Karen Jones asked in response to my last post:
I wish someone would say exactly what the minor and major issues are…even the bible leaves me confused about it…
I think I know that the basics should be Jesus son of God…God come to earth to die on a cross for all our sins and be resurrected into eternal life that we all can freely have if we confess his name as our savior, the bible is God’s words to us ” an instruction book for earth living” then I do not compromise on any of that. But people are calling marriage or abortion and other things minor issues which I consider major issues. Yet I see people have formed different churches over things like length of hair , dress , etc. which I consider more minor issues.
This is a good question and if you’re like me, you find that the things you consider major change as you grow and change. Things that seemed monumental to me 5 years ago seem inconsequential to me now. I’ll use the marriage debate as an example since it is an issue that several Christians have disagreed with me about as well as issue raised by Karen in her comment.
When I wrote Why The Marriage Debate Fails to Move Me, most of the response was positive, but I did receive private correspondence from a few readers who thought I was way off base. They believe that this is a major issue, that the church needs to take a stand on it, and that my position is antithetical to the Christian mandate.
Five years ago, I felt the exact same way. I thought that the extension of marriage “rights” to homosexuals would signal the death knell of marriage as we know it. I thought that we needed to fight state sanctioned homosexual marriage. The validity of all marriages depended on it. While this was once a major issue to me, it no longer is. In fact, I have evolved even more as I have come to believe that the state should probably withdraw from the marriage business altogether, that the church should perform and record sacramental marriages among its own, and that the church should also impose harsh disciplinary and social penalties on those who divorce for any reasons not clearly outlined in Scripture. The state can do and honor whatever it wishes for those on the outside, and it should be of little concern to us.
Does this mean that I am in favor of homosexual marriage? Absolutely not. It is an abomination and there is nothing good or right about it. Is it a hill that the church should be willing to die on? In my opinion, it is not. Again, I haven’t always felt that way, but I do now. The fact that I don’t see it as major doesn’t mean that it isn’t a major issue for someone else. It has been a struggle for me to divorce the political from the spiritual.
Others who have not had that struggle may be perfectly free to fight this fight. It is not my fight. I am more concerned with the dismal state of marriage within the church and am thoroughly convinced that we should give more attention to that issue than we should whether or not the state gives gays access to civilly recognized unions under the umbrella of marriage, as if tacking the word marriage on to the word “gay” suddenly makes it a valid form of marriage. I don’t believe it does, so for me the issue is less exciting.
Ultimately, I believe there are some things that are major issued for us all and I’ll end this post in just a minute with what I believe those issues are. First however, I think we need to understand as believers that everyone has a story and a struggle for deliverance from certain vices, and what is a a genuine, eternal life or death major issue for one person may not rise to the same level for another.
For a recovered alcoholic, one glass of wine is a major. For another believer, it is a minor issue where total abstention is not required. To declare that the only way to walk is as a teetotaler is to impose an unbiblical standard on another believer’s liberty.
For the woman who has struggled with lust, promiscuity, or a desire to be desired, the modesty issue comes front and center in a way that it doesn’t for a woman who doesn’t have the same issues even though we are all Scripturally committed to modesty. Makeup or none, jeans or none, sleeveless or not, it will play out differently depending on the woman, her story, her husband. It’s not for me to decide whether or not it’s a major issue nor how she should walk it out.
There are major issues that all believers can unite around. As we strive to prayerfully live out the universal majors, we free others to master their personal major issues and we are free to do the same. Well, what are the major issues?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16
30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:9-10
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 [b]bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23
6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
There are of course, other bedrock doctrinal truths that I could list, but there isn’t the time. I could go on for days! You get the picture.
It is not my intent to ignore this most important question: How Then Shall We Live? I just happen to believe that the answer to that question comes into much better focus when we strive to build a firm foundation on the fundamentals.