A Church Without Distinctions?

While I’m still crafting my response to Rob’s earlier challenge to me about 1 Cor. 7, I do want to make clear one thing arising from a comment from him that just came in today:

No, I don’t believe that Christ’s Church is a Body with no distinctions — a formless, uniform, bland, and monotonous corpus ecclesiastis with no diversity at all. The New Testament, especially Paul in Romans and First Corinthians, makes it clear that’s not the case.

But I also believe that the entirety of Scripture, and most markedly, as we’d expect, the New Testament, endeavors to point out that while the God-given distinctions between the members of the Body still exist, and God be praised that they do, those distinctions are never meant to be ordered hierarchically, to reflect the sinful divisions of the world, or to deny full participation and opportunity for the exercise of gifts amongst the members therein. It’s the multitudinous differentiation found within the Body that gives it the strength of an infinite Christ Jesus, and so we celebrate the differences in language, culture, gender perspectives, and other areas of diversity.

The weakening of the Body, the denying of the victory of Christ in redeeming the world, and the impotent testimony the Church offers a waiting, watching world occurs when Christ’s Body takes the reality, even the blessedness, of Body-differences and constrains them within the brittle old wineskins of sinfulness: sexism, racism, classism, etc. I believe that service in the Church ought to be based on Godly character and Spirit gifting — and neither of those things is gender-based. To deny the one with Godly character and evident Spiritual gifts full participation in the Body because of gender is wrong, and not because I say so, but because the Bible says so.

I yearn for a Body more diverse, more full of the vibrancy and strength that comes from differences respected, instead of a Church that gives lip service to “distinctions,” but primarily as a means to harness them in the buttressing of hierarchy and power — contrary to the testimony of Scripture and in favor of a weary, sinful, worldy sameness of thought and impotence of effectiveness. A Church whose earthly leadership is always male and usually “male-among-the-most-powerful” is a Church unable to reflect its true diversity — a Church that erases, not respects, distinctions and does so in favor of the elevation of a distinction it must not privilege

Expect more engagement with Rob, with my thanks, in the next day or two.

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