It’s a sentence that poisoned the well into toxic sludge at at least one church I’ve attended.
“Everybody has a right to their own opinion.”
I didn’t know it at the time, but it was pretty much the unofficial motto of that church. I’m not sure exactly when I finally became aware of it. Almost everyone in the church, from the pastor to the custodian, had said it from one time to another. Especially when we were discussing a rather sticky topic…
Maybe that’s when the scales finally fell from my eyes. The day we brought up abortion.
There was a dear old lady of the church, the kind who wore frilly white dresses and flowered hats. The one who sang off key, but must’ve been quite the hoofer in her day. She was just a little bit wacky, perhaps nearing senility, but she was saccharine and sweet-spirited. She and her quiet-spoken husband were regular attendees, though they would not join the membership [no worries, mate]. And she could tell you stories of the church’s bygone glory days. Yet if her husband rarely spoke, she was outspoken… and quite the liberal!
It was something that bothered me, frankly. I had to wonder how such an avowed and outspoken liberal could feel so comfortable in a conservative church. She was, among other things, a feminist, pro-abortionist and pro-gay rights/marriage activist. And, no big surprise here, she was a liberal Democrat. [West Virginia, largely due to the influence of once-beneficial unions, is mostly Democrat, but are conservative Democrats on most moral and social issues.] Theologically, she belived that everyone would eventually get to Heaven somehow, despite the Bible’s insistence to the contrary.
A wolf amongst the sheepfold.
The pastor preached the exact opposite of what she believed, but he always dissembled with that oft-heard motto, “But everybody has a right to their own opinion.” [This was that self-same church where the Archko Volume was being preached as superior to the Bible by the Assistant Pastor/Adult Sunday School teacher.]
I should mention that on the abortion issue, I’m a Biblicist. As a Bible-believing Christian, I am pro-life. As the product of an alleged rape, the father of an extremely premature infant and the proud father of an adoptive special needs child, I am without a doubt the pro-choice movement’s worst nightmare. When they protest that abortion ought to be available for rape victims, I inform them just how rare such cases are [by biological necessity!] and remind them, as a product of such an unfortunate event, that the baby is not at fault for the crime of the rapist. And when they prattle on about “quality of life” issues, I remind them that the key word is “life” without which there is no quality thereof and then introduce them to two children who have suffered and overcome medical special needs with the aid of loving, nurturing parents. And if they don’t feel up to the task, I note that the second child is adopted and counsel them of a much better alternative than pre-birth murder.
My wife sells a T-shirt that says it all: Adoption: The choice where no one has to die.
This lady and I locked horns on the abortion issue. I gave her a reasonable [read: non-liberal] reply to each of her objections and then went over the Biblical evidence for a pro-life stance. Yet the pastor shut down the spirited discussion with those ill-fated words: “Everybody has a right to their own opinion.”
I began to wonder: But what about God’s opinion? What about the Word of God? And isn’t that saying that all opinions are valid? Let’s face it: Opinions are like noses, since most everyone has them and most of them smell! Hitler’s opinions led to the Holocaust. Should he have had a right to his? For that matter, there are those who say the Holocaust never happened, that the Earth is flat and that Elvis is still alive. Which is to say, not all opinions are true. The church, on the other hand, is described as the pillar and ground of truth. We follow a Savior who is self-described as the way, the Truth and the life. We are told to judge and discern between truth and error and told that the Bible is a lamp to light our path in that regard.
So can we truly say that the Christian has a right to his opinion where the Word of God says otherwise?
True, there are positions the Bible states which are not today very popular or en vogue, but such has always been the case in Church history. Lest we forget, the truth is not determined by popular opinion. The exclusivity of salvation by Christ Jesus, the reality of Hell [which even C.S. Lewis said he would erase from Christianity if it were possible, yet he had to accept its validity since it was evident from the Bible] or even the pro-life position are not points of personal opinion, but are truths from the Living Word of God.
Of course, if we aren’t studying the Bible, how would our opinions match its truth? I fear too often that our views are determined by what else we read or what we watch, rather than b y the Word. Even in church, we are more and more heaping to ourselves teachers who will tell us what we want to hear, rather than listening to convicting messages from the Word of God.
How many folks sit in our pews comfortably, all the while their minds being at emnity with God, because we lack boldness, zeal for truth or biblical convictions?
Read more of the What’s Wrong With Church series!