Why is it that we argue about things we cannot change?
For example, recently there was a debate between a young earth creationist, and Bill Nye the Science Guy, which was apparently broadcast around the nation. (Full disclosure: I did not see the debate.) Why would any Christian think it is important what we believe about creation and evolution? I can see why this is important for scientists; they have to work with this stuff on a daily basis. But I am not a scientist, so as a Christian why is what I believe about creation or evolution of any importance at all? If the world was created in six calendar days, then it was and there is nothing I can do about it. If it evolved over millions and millions of years, then again that is what happened, and I can do nothing about it.
For Christians, the argument is abstract, and to be honest, most, if not all the of evidence is against a six day creation. Do we think that our faith invalidates scientific investigation? I read that in Tibetan Buddhism there is a belief that the moon is a flat surface. The Dalai Lama was looking through his telescope, saw shadows, and had to conclude that the moon was not flat. As far as I can tell, that change did not destroy the integrity of Tibetan Buddhism. I don’t think that accepting the science behind evolution will destroy the integrity of Christianity.
But I can tell you what will destroy the integrity of Christianity–Christians who do not love. If we got all Christians together on creation, and all Christians were to agree in a the literal biblical story of Genesis, pretty much nothing in the world would be changed. But if we got all Christians to agree that peace was better was war, that caring for others was better than accumulating tons of crap for yourself, that compassion was better than apathy, that we are all related as Children of God and that we ought to treat one another as Children of God, then the world could be changed. One of my seminary professors, Stan Hauerwas, had a sign on his door that read, “A Modest Proposal for Peace; that all Christians should agree not to kill one another.” If we could get all Christians behind THAT, that would make a difference.
It really is time the church grew up. We can no longer afford to be involved in these petty arguments. We can no longer afford to cling to our parochial view of the faith. Our faith is much bigger than any individual within the faith, and it can withstand differences of opinions. We can disagree on issues such as evolution, homosexuality, worship music, style of worship, without losing the integrity of our devotion to God. What we cannot do is fight and bicker, and let the fighting and bickering get in the way of our love. I can love God, and believe that God accepts a healthy sexuality that includes same sex relationships, and you can love God, and differ with me on that. I can love God and believe that God was mysteriously involved in creation, and you can believe that God created it all in six days. I can love God, and believe that not every single word of the Bible is relevant to modern life and you can love God and believe that every word was inspired and dictated.
Paul says, in I Corinthians 3:1-4:
And so, brothers and sisters,I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?
The people were immature, Paul says, because they insisted that their group was better than the other group. What Paul wants them to see, what he emphasized throughout the whole letter to the Corinthians, is that they ALL belong to Christ. So rather than split off into factions, they need to support one another in love. And by “in love” I mean lovingly support one another AND support them as they love others.
That is what makes us the Church.
We can spend our time bickering over things that we cannot change, or we can change the world. It is up to us.