Yesterday, we saw that Jesus’ command to be salt and light is not primarily about social justice but rather about sharing the Gospel.
Today, I wanted to pick up further on little side point, which is that if we want to be distinctive in what we speak up about, then we need to be ready to speak up for those things and for those people that no-one else is speaking up for.
When George Floyd died, I was challenged about what we were doing as a church to respond to Black Lives Matter. As it happened, both our communities and families worker and I had spoken on facebook an YouTube, we had shared articles and our elders had met and spent time in self reflection and prayer. However, there were those who wanted us to go further and do something we had never done before on any issue. We were asked where the official statement from all the elders was and why it wasn’t on our church website.
Now, you will know from other articles I’ve written that I am concerned that we face the sin of racism head on, not just when it is in the news but all the time. However, as I’ve just mentioned, we’ve never been in the habit of putting statements on our website and there have been numerous issues that were serious and we could have taken a church position on. Take for example Greta Thumberg and the earth extinction protests. We are meant to be wise stewards of our planet but we have exploited and damaged it to the point where the consensus is that climate change will bring severe and increasing danger over the next few decades. We did not put out a statement on the school strikes and nor do I remember us being asked to.
Last week legislation was proposed that by decriminalising abortion would have significantly changed the status of unborn babies. No longer would the Offenses Against the Person act have provided the child with protection as a person in their own right. Guess how many people were pushing me to ensure we had a statement on this as elders? That’s right not a single person raised this with me.
I believe that facing down racism and seeking to remove systemic aspects of it is important. Similarly, concern for the environment, advocacy for the refugee and food for the hungry are important but saying that doesn’t make me particularly salty or distinctive. A few hundred years ago, a man called William Wilberforce decided it was time to speak out on an issue knowing it would lead to him being disowned, unpopular and subject to attack. It was a counter-cultural step, it was the salty thing to do. Wilberforce led the campaign in parliament against the slave trade.
Speaking up against abortion today will not win you plaudits in respectable circles. You are likely to be heckled, slandered and shamed. Alongside a Biblical view on sexuality, opposition to abortion is likely to prove career and opportunity limiting for many in the future.
If you want to be salty on social issues choose to take up a cause, not because it is popular but because it is right.