Apathy has reared its ugly head, again.
Or is that a contradiction in terms?
Nearly two years ago I wrote in a column titled "How's that again?" about a statement made in the hallway of a church by a member of that church to the effect that she wasn't promoting Christianity above any other religion. That was one example at the time of statements made by self-professed believers that belied their beliefs. A definite contradiction in terms.
For weeks after the column was published, in print and online, I answered my telephone with trepidation each time it rang. I fully expected to hear from at least one area pastor the questions I feared each one would be compelled to ask, "Who said that? Do I know her? Do I need to speak with her?"
My fears were unfounded. My rehearsed answer, my mental gymnastics over whether or not to even answer the question, were all unnecessary. No one called.
Recently I submitted for publication an observation about Mr. Tiller. (I simply cannot bring myself to use the title "doctor" though he had the necessary degree. After all, doctors heal. Tiller's supporters can argue this point all they want; abortion heals no one.) One of my observations, which apparently was somewhat obscure in the reading, was the location of his murder. (And murder it certainly was, without question.) The cause of my consternation was that in the church where he was killed, he apparently found no opposition to his career choice and was welcome to attend, to tithe, to worship and to serve.
I expected a hue and a cry. I could already hear the arguments. Church is for sinners (No argument there, since we all are sinners.) No takers.
Surprisingly absent also was the tried and true, "Judge not, lest ye be judged," perhaps one of the most misused quotations in all of Scripture.
Apparently, believers are suffering from a bad case of straight As.
Apathy. Apostacy. Acquiescence. Adaptation. Ambiguity. Ambivalence. Appeasement.
Even when our toes are stepped on, even when someone questions the validity of our values, our beliefs, our absolutes, we dare not speak out.
I understand that this is in our human nature. When conflict comes, or even appears on the horizon, nine times out of 10, we withdraw.
When we visited the base where Ben took his military training, the night before his graduation, he introduced us to one of his drill sergeants, who greeted us saying, "Oh, you belong to 'quiet Cribbs'."
We turned to Ben in astonishment. "Quiet Cribbs?," we asked in unison. Sheepishly, he confessed, "I learned early to keep a low profile here. A very low profile."
There are times when silence, or Ben's low profile approach, are entirely appropriate. There also are times when silence can be deadly. Who among us could hold our tongue if we see someone about to step in front of a bus? Who among us could hold our tongue when we see a child reach toward a hot stove or run pell mell for an open staircase?
For all of the pro-choice rhetoric spoken by people of the world, for all of the outcry on behalf of the right to life for the pre-born, the silence of organized Christianity, when criticized for openly embracing unrepentant sinners, a category I believe includes Tiller, Bishop Gene Robinson and many others, is deafening. Is it because there is no defense? Or is it because no one dares to criticize or the criticism is dismissed out of hand?
Perhaps w hen we abandoned our Absolutes, we were forced to embrace the other As.
Which apparently leaves us free to explore other As. Adultery. Abdication of marital and familial responsibilities, abandonment of financial obligations, even aberrant and amoral lifestyles.
The consequences are serious. Sometimes silence is deadly. Sometimes silence carries eternal consequences.
If the church, the representation of Christ in the world, abandons scriptural absolutes and teaches others that it's OK to do so, how then will we stand before God?
"For it is time for the judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God." 1 Peter 4:17 (NIV)