This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Issue-based discussions must start with Scripture

We are a people who believe that the Bible is the revealed Word of God.

We suffer those who disagree with that premise to participate in, and in some cases lead discussion on how this portion of God’s church on Earth responds to cultural challenges and changes. Similarly, we discuss from the basis of emotion and a desire to love when we should be discussing how, as we understand it, God’s Word relates to the issue at hand.

I challenge this church to begin discussion of cultural topics with a dispassionate study of Scripture to discern the perspective of God. Our conversations should use the terms “I understand God’s Word to say this because . . . ” rather than “I think . . . ”

If we discuss the response of the church to, say, immigration, we must start with a search of Scripture. What reference is there in Scripture to people visiting or moving to other countries? How does Israel, other countries, and the New Testament church treat visitors? How is that treatment portrayed in Scripture? Is it a positive or negative example? Is there a difference between New and Old Testament portrayals?

Or another example: examining marriage and same-sex sexuality, look at the passages related to marriage. All of them. How is marriage related to us by God? What are the positive and negative examples given to us? How is marriage referred to by way of allusion? What does Scripture say about sexuality, both directly and by inference? Is there a difference between New and Old Testament references?

Having studied what God says and does not say about a topic, then we should discuss how we understand these passages and how they relate to the cultures we live among. Doing this, our discussions will be more peaceful and grounded in God’s love.

Let’s leave our old selves behind, and search for the wisdom of God in our troubled times.

Neal Steiner is a member of Cornerstone Mennonite in Hartville, Ohio. It is part of the Conservative Mennonite Conference.

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