Thursday, August 10, 2017

Meat and plays

In an earlier post I put a question:

Is yoga viewed by the church as worse than homosexuality?

The question arose on a day where I learnt that a local community group was beset with the problem of destruction of their advertising signs.  I'm quite sensitive to their issue as I've personally witnessed, as first responder, the results of vandalism of a church's signboard. No-one should hold destruction or vandalism of property as acceptable.

I had no answer to the question when a thought struck me:

By allowing a play to be presented in its hall a church is tacitly
communicating its position towards the play's subject matter.

Having drawn a contrast between yoga and homosexuality, I turned to the paper: ''Yoga and other such activities" (A report from the Anglican Diocese of Sydney Social Issues Committee of 20 July 2015, Karin Sowada, Chair)" to seek the core proposition as to the paper's conclusion; that church halls should not be leased for yoga practices.  

Not surprisingly, the paper's core proposition is found within Scripture.  Here is the essential reasoning:

"For the sake of the conscience of the other, however, a Christian person or a Christian organisation may wisely choose to forgo the practice of yoga. This takes careful discernment of the kind that Paul encourages us to pursue in 1 Corinthians 8-10, and of which this paper is hopefully a model."

Paul, the author of the letter to Corinthians is considering a sticky matter of food.  More specifically, Paul is focused upon meat.  It was common for meat that was sold to be sacrificed to a pagan god. Because the food is sacrificed to a pagan god, Paul argues it has not been tainted at all - a pagan god being nothing in the eyes of a believer in the one true God.  Nonetheless, Paul is concerned that someone who is of weak conscience may be irrationally focussed on the characteristic attributed upon the meat. The one who finds it acceptable to eat the meat, should not act detrimentally to the one who is of weak conscience.  Paul's argument, in part, is:  

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?
1 Corinthians 8:7-10 NIV
From this, we see that it is the subjective rather than the objective that matters ["do not", says Paul, "become a stumbling block to the weak"].  It is what you communicate (subjective); rather than the factual aspects (objective).  It is not to the food, or the sacrifice to the pagan god; it is to the person's own understanding.  We can not bemoan the other person's immaturity or innocence but instead to work to the bounds of their comfort.  We are therefore to care for our neighbours in a position of care that is shaped to communicate the right message. 

So, a Christian church hall used for yoga practices subtly suggests that the practices are compatible with Christian teaching.  It does not matter that it communicates the message to everyone; only that it communicates the message to some.  That is not the right message. The right message is instead the absence of yoga practices at the hall.  

Now, allow me to repeat the preceding paragraph topically with transposition:

So, a Christian church hall used for presentation of a play that is presenting the homosexuality lifestyle subtly suggests that homosexuality is compatible with Christian teaching. That is not the right message. The right message is instead the absence of the play at the hall.  

If transposition of that paragraph holds, then yoga and homosexuality are both uncomfortable bed-fellows in respect uses of a church hall.


Note: all links good as at 9 August 2017

No comments:

Post a Comment