Finding the Balance Between Truth and Grace

Posted on December 9, 2011 by

There is a war going on for the soul of the Church. Can’t you feel it? The battle lines are drawn and people are getting entrenched in the camp that most closely mirrors their interpretation of Scripture. And there is no shortage of movements to take a side on. Fundamentalists vs. Emergents. Quiverfull only vs. Christians who believe in family planning. Homeschool vs. Any other evil kind of schooling. Complementarians vs. Egalitarians. Dresses only vs. Immodest jeans and makeup wearing women. Churches with youth groups vs. Family integrated churches. And of course, Protestants vs. Catholics, vs. Orthodox. That age old feud. I could go on and on, unfortunately, but I think you get the picture.

I appreciate strong convictions and sound theology. I am frequently alarmed by what I believe is a spirit of heresy being propagated by many Christians in the name of being “led” by the Spirit. The discarding of sound Biblical doctrine and the embracing of cheap grace has produced a generation of Christians with no moral authority, no witness, no salt and dim lights. And all of this spiritual anarchy is excused because our God loves us and we are “free in Christ”. Free apparently to walk, look, talk and act like the world, storing up for ourselves treasures on earth rather than in heaven with no concern for making disciples.

I am equally concerned by the growing faction of Christians who rightly have rebelled against this new “if it feels good do it” form of Christianity. The problem is that in the effort to create distances from one heresy, we must be careful not to produce another. The idea that the only way to be a godly Christian woman is to stay in the house, never work under any circumstances, have 10 kids, wear long dresses, and homeschool said large brood of kids. Anything else is seen as embracing the world and makes you unfit to call yourself a godly woman. As if we can do anything in our own power to make ourselves acceptable to God.

I do believe in the Bible as the inerrant word of God. I believe that there are few truly gray areas on issues of daily life. Where there is no express command or prohibition in Scripture, more often than not there is enough evidence for us to conclude with confidence what the will of the Lord is in any given situation. An example:

According to Titus 2, wives are to keep the home. I believe that keeping the home is the first and most important duty of any married woman. I also believe that anything that interferes with a wife’s ability to do that needs to be eliminated. This includes outside careers. But does this command extend to include every woman at every stage of life? Single women? Single mothers? Women who are done raising their children? Families in extreme economic hardship (which is increasing rather than decreasing)?  There are many who would say yes. That there are no circumstances under which a woman should work outside the home.

I would call that legalism, not based on Scripture but on a dogmatic theology that bases one’s entire perspective on one verse. As  I am a strong proponent of women keeping their homes, of modesty, of the blessing of children according to Psalm 127 , it would be easy for me to fall into the trap of harshly judging those who live differently than I do. Indeed I do believe that far too many of us have bought into the “it takes two to make it” mentality with no real examination of whether that is actually true.  But I’m also looking hard for the mercy that seems so painfully absent from these discussions.

To those women who feel free to be “led” to make their own decisions on how to live I ask: How does that reconcile itself with the clear directives and implications in Scripture for women to obey their husbands and embrace the birth and raising of children as a blessing? We must answer to God for how we raise our children and we can’t very well do a good job if we are obsessed with finding our own purpose and making our own mark, now can we? Our crumbling Christian families are the evidence that whatever spirit is leading down this path, it most certainly can’t be the Holy Spirit.

There is an inherent danger in an all or nothing approach to this or any issue. To imply that God is not concerned with our individual circumstances denies His mercy and compassion. To insist that God is only concerned with our individual circumstances denies His holiness and sovereignty. None of us has all the answers, but we lie to ourselves when we deny that in many cases the answer is right there in Scripture, clear and easy to understand.


Posted in: Religion