I watched some of Larry King’s program tonight, and observed the discussion between the straight seminary president, the gay movie star and the gay (former) mayor in Wyoming. What struck me most was the way each made moral judgments and decisions — the seminary president by appeal to the Bible, and the movie star and the mayor by appeal to both experience and to the US Constitution. I will be blogging on this topic soon, but the issue that must be faced before anything else is said is this one: How do we, as Christians — regardless where we place ourselves on the theological spectrum, make moral decisions? (Grant me the point that regardless of one’s view of this very serious and often trampled-upon moral issue, each person renders a moral judgement somehow.)
Let me suggest at this point that there are five elements, and each interacts with one another rather than being a simplistic conveyor belt series of actions:
1. Biblical statement (and interpretation)
2. Church tradition (shaped by denomination or “brand of Christian”) and resolution
3. Cultural context and the legal system (don’t deny it)
4. Experience and individual conscience
5. Reason: penetrating, at some level, everything above.
We could easily fasten upon which of these, and to what degree each of these, elements influenced each of the persons involved, but this is not a blog about “who was right on the Larry King show?” but about an important introductory consideration when we (at a later date) consider this issue: On what basis do we make moral decisions? And are we are aware of how we are doing this? And how do Christians make such decisions?
I know it sounds simplistic, but this issue is at the center of all the debate and it will only be fair for each of us, if we wish to engage in a serious conversation about the topic, to put our cards on the table and genuinely engage with one another at this level too.