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A Ramble on Controversy & Principles

I think this is one of those entries that has to start with a disclaimer. So here it is:

These are my own, personal thoughts. Although they pertain to work, in that they stemmed from a conversation with a coworker, they are not representative of my employer or my employer's views. Nor are they in any way intended to put down those whose views differ from mine.

A friend, and relatively new coworker, sent me an email today in which she commented on the stress she feels with regards to the oh-so-controversial issue of "the role of women." She asked me, "Beth! What is my role as a woman on staff!"

This makes me cringe. This, and the Calvinism-Arminianism debate.

I should clarify. Neither of these issues in and of themselves make me angry. I actually think they are good discussions to have. But I consider both of them as non-essentials. That is, the stance someone takes in either area is not of that much importance. In the big picture.

Which is why I cringe. When this becomes a source of stress and fear for people who fully love Jesus, it is out of its proper place. When it is the issue that is readily associated with a specific person, or a group of people, it is out of its proper place. As people who love Jesus, we should be known for that. What I want people to know of me, is that I love Jesus. After that, I want to be known as someone who loves people.

So I advised my friend: a) your role on staff is to help ladies (AND men) fall more in love with Jesus, and equip them to be faithful evangelists & discipler
b) egalitarianism doesn't equal the end of our faith, just like evolution doesn't mean the cross was just a symbol.

c) Jesus isn't going to burn you with a flame if complete complimentarianism is true and yet you teach at a weekly meeting, because God looks at the heart.

d) don't let fear of man hold you back from what God says to you. That goes for people inside and outside of work.

e) (final point) God will show you, over time, what your convictions are. It may take years (it is for me). Don't stress that you have to know tomorrow. Or yesterday. And don't let stress rule your heart. Let peace, and the knowledge that, at the end of the day, God loves you dearly and will use you as you faithfully seek Him, give you great joy in all you do.

I have felt stress about both of these things, and the fact that my actions and beliefs stemmed predominantly from culture and not from conviction. I remember the conversation that first introduced me to the reality that there was a frame of view other than Calvinist within the Christian faith. And now, I have thoughts and opinions - I wouldn't yet say convictions.

To be honest, I sometimes feel unable to ask people (on both sides of both debates) their thoughts, because I know how strongly their opinions are held. I've been in conversations that have spoken poorly of "the other side" and let myself be thought of as being on the "same side" when I should have spoken up. It makes me sad. I have been complicit in it, and I want out.

I want people, myself included, to have the freedom to be uncertain, to know love is not dependent on their opinions, and that what matters most is what God convicts them of. Recently, I've been mulling over the verse, "anything that does not come from faith is sin." Which is really a profound and simple truth.


steph said…
i'd like to think that the issue isn't as pervasive on this side of canada. though, i'm not naive enough to think it's a non-issue altogether. but i agree, it is frustrating when it becomes an unnecessary source of stress and fear, grr.

and you make a great point about the influence of culture over conviction. preach it, beth!

ps. and... i believe in purgatory... uhhhhh, *nervous laughter. JOKING.

Beth said…
well, steph, purgatory is probably where you're going to end up now!!


just to clarify (for everyone), i'm not talking about this issue only within our work context - it exists there, for sure, but also anywhere within the church...
hisearthgirl said…
yes, let's have the freedom to be uncertain. *contented sigh*
Mavaddat said…
I loved this line, Beth:

"I want people, myself included, to have the freedom to be uncertain, to know love is not dependent on their opinions, and that what matters most is what God convicts them of."

I passionately agree. What a profound freedom, the freedom of conscience -- to feel unconstrained to follow one's intuition, inspiration, experience, and reason where it will lead her or him.

I didn't know about the Calvinism-Arminianism and Complementarianism-Egalitarianism debates. Neat! Do you have opinions on the issues you mentioned, Beth? I'd love to hear your thoughts some time (off the record, of course ☺). Especially about egalitarianism.
Beth said…
thanks, mav - you know, i think i have an opinion about pretty much everything - egalitarianism included :) i'm reading a book on it right now, and will gladly share my thoughts next time we catch up. it had a couple thoughts too on how it is that we arrive at knowledge/beliefs that made me think of our ongoing discussion.

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