Editorial: Pick-And-Choose Spirituality

As you know, I have felt a strong check in my spirit when it comes to “editorializing” on this blog site.  There are plenty of sites that do that—some well, some not so well.  And I do not even begin to consider myself an “editorial” writer in the professional sense of that term.

But….there are some times when I believe that an emerging idea or trend is directly intersecting the discipline of Christian Spiritual Formation, and when that’s the case, I make selective use of this category of posting.

Recently, I have read articles about the ultra-liberal criticism of conservative Christians who continue to stand up for “right to life” issues.  This post is not about abortion, or any related hot-button topics. But it is about something that’s being attached to it.

It is about something I find amazing.  The recent articles have documented that the ultra liberals are now calling what conservatives are trying to do “Fetal Theater” and trying to create “voices from the womb.”

The amazing thing is that I have grown up in a theological world where liberals were the ones who appointed themselves as “voices” for those who seemingly had no voice in society.  Some of them have caricatured conservatives as not being a sufficient “voice” for those who lack voices.  The caricature is largely unfounded when the total history of orthodox Christianity is studied.  That too, is not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that the very ones who have championed Christianity’s need to be a “voice for the voiceless” are now criticizing conservative Christians for trying to be that for babies in the womb.  Who lacks a “voice” more than the unborn?  Who may need an advocate more than a being whose future existence can be taken away without any “vote” from them?

Let me be very clear—-I have not been a “card-carrying” person when it comes to the issue of abortion—precisely because I have not felt the way some people were describing the issue, or acting in relation to it, best represented the Christian witness.

But I cannot be silent when a kind of “pick-and-choose spirituality” enters the scene, and ironically is promoted by the very ones who would scream “no fair” if we tried to keep them from being a “voice” for the persons and causes who have been their focal points.

We will not likely ever come to consensus around this issue, or others like it.  But for God’s sake, let us not erode into a spirituality which contradicts itself by prohibiting one group from doing what another group does as a matter of course. If liberals can be a “voice” for their causes, so can conservatives.

If we believe there are those who lack a “voice” and that Christ calls us to be that “voice,” we are no longer in control of who gets an advocate and who does not.  That’s as dangerous as failing to give a voice to the voiceless in the first place.


About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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