Saturday, December 29, 2012

Teaching Charity and Virtue

I had an interesting conversation with a female pastor of a local Baptist Church. She was attending to a family member in the hospital. She joked that her Baptist Church was little more liberal leaning than most.

We got into a brief conversation about why the LDS Church sends it's missionaries to evangelize other Christians. I explained that while many Christians express faith in Christ, many don't live their faith and sin still has very painful individual and social consequences. LDS missionaries serve as social and spiritual therapists in the community, inspiring others to a return to virtue and to attend to essential daily spiritual habits like reading scriptures and praying.

We discussed how the reality that in spite of the atonement of Christ, sin still leaves its mark, so-to-speak. She recounted picking up a sharp object as a child, that her mother warned her not to touch; cutting her arm, and living with that scar the rest of her life. I commented how Jesus Christ still wears the marks of our sins upon himself.

While this pastor described herself as spiritually liberal, she confessed being strongly politically conservative and having supported Gov Romney for president. I told her that this last election posed a significant spiritual choice to the American people. I told her that I felt the choice between Obama and Romney was a choice between continued bailouts versus real repentance and change.

When we give or accept a bailout, we are reenforcing and enabling the dysfunctional behavior. Whether its GM, or banks or individuals; bailouts don't help change the behavior that got them into their predicament in the first place. When Mitt Romney worked for Bain capital, he worked to save failing and bankrupt companies, not by bailing them out, but by restructuring them, cutting away the bad and saving the good. Romney continued this strategy in saving the Salt Lake Olympics and in Massachusetts.

I told my new Baptist Pastor friend that Romney's attitude about restructuring was a direct parallel to reflection of LDS understanding of repentance and Christ's atonement. I then asked her if she thought many Christians were spiritual liberals who viewed Christ's atonement as more of an Obama-style bailout vs. an opportunity for Romney-style restructuring.

My overall impression of this brief conversation is that regardless of creed or denomination, our Constitutional government requires its churches to teach virtue. Charity (do's) and Virtue ( don'ts) are the essence of pure religion. The reason for religion and the promise of a judgement and reward in heaven is for the purpose of teaching and reenforcing virtuous behavior. Unfortunately we have too many in this country who have been taught to believe without been taught virtue and our families and our nation are suffering the terrible consequences.

My recommendation for any Christian Church is to follow the direction of Paul in 1 Cor 5:11. There Paul directs the church to take care to not administer the Lord's Supper to those who are unworthy. Paul says that if any man be guilty of sexual sin, abuse, coveting, idolatry, fraud, and drunkenness, that they not be permitted to break bread with the Saints. You don't have to be perfect to attend church and partake of the Lords Supper, but Christ's people should live up to a certain standard. This higher standard creates a community of safety and unity.

On the other hand, permitting unrepentant sinners to go through the motions of religious observance without expectations is damaging to the soul of the sinner and the community. Accordingly the Bible is clear about upholding the Lords system where the Bishop can receive confession and verify ritual purity just like the priests in the Old Testament.

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