‘Everything Christ did was done to keep us bound together and living at peace with one another. . . And so it was that Paul could have accused the Corinthians of many great crimes but he accused them of contentiousness before any other. He could have accused them of fornication, of pride, of taking their quarrels to the pagan courts, of banquets in the shrines of idols. He could have charged that the women did not veil their heads and that the men did. Over and above all this, he could have accused them of neglecting the poor, of the pride they took in their charismatic gifts, and in the matter of the resurrection of the body. But since, along with these, he could also find fault with them because of their dissensions and quarrels with one another, he passed over all the other crimes, and corrected their contentiousness first.’

St. John Chrysostom

Alas, this is not a homage to one of my favorite bluesmen, but a commentary on the Church I love.  In my previous post on human sexuality and the Church, I made a statement, “Anything that divides the Body of Christ, The Church, is not a good thing.  Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.  How dare we presume that it is ours to alter according to our whims?  My great dream in life is to see a shared communion table amongst all believers, a unified Church.  This should be a goal for all believers.  We can’t allow our own agendas to outweigh God’s agendas.”

I was challenged a short while later by a reader with the question, “What exactly is God’s agenda?”

Now that’s a compelling question.

Rather than answer that query in regards to  a specific issue, such as human sexuality, I pondered it for a bit in broader terms, and tried to frame some ideas from both negative and positive perspectives.  From the negative, I looked at the question in terms of the problem, “Why is the Church so confused over certain ideas, the things that divide us?  How did we get to this point, where we seem to have lost any form of unity over basic beliefs?”

From a more positive framework, I considered the question, “What is the appropriate response, a ‘Proceed in this manner…’ type of answer, that helps us to define, in broad terms, how God wants us to act, even in specific circumstances?  What is a general overview, or dare I say, mission statement (Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little…), that would allow us to proceed as a Church, unified, and in God’s will in the midst of a culture that wants the Church to adhere to differing agendas and plans?”

In short, I’m defining what I see as the problem, or at least part of the problem, then instead of camping out and complaining about it, exploring a framework or general mindset that would help the Church adequately approach specific issues, such as inclusiveness and human sexuality, as they arise.

Why do we need to do this?  Muddy water is neither palatable for drinking, nor comfortable for diving into.  You can’t tell how deep it is, what lies in its depths, but you can be pretty sure that it would be unpleasant to take a big swig of it.  Even worse, there’s a possibility that something dangerous and ugly is just beneath the surface, stirring up the mud.  In the same way, if we aren’t unified as the Bride of Christ, then we give the appearance to the greater culture of being troubled, unpleasant, and unpalatable.  When we argue and bicker amongst ourselves as believers, we become unappealing to those whom Christ came to seek and save.

We seem ugly.