Avoiding Responsibility by Pointing Fingers

I’ve been reading N. T. Wright’s latest book, After You Believe, and came across this paragraph this morning:

“…we who have lived for many generations with the phenomenon of ‘denominations’ may well sigh and throw up our hands. Our denominations, with all their ambiguities and puzzles, are often rooted in the very kind of ethnic distinctions or personality-based divisions which Paul went out of his way to combat. Perhaps that is one reason why moral discussions in the church tend to go round and round in small circles on a few favored issues, especially sex: discussing how, why, and when two human beings come together in a loving or quasi-loving act may be, after all, a displacement activity when we can’t cope with the question of how, why, and when a whole family of Christians should (but can’t) come together in mutual love and support. That doesn’t mean that sexual ethics are unimportant. On the contrary, they are symptomatic of the health or unhealthy of the wider community.” (N. T. Wright. After You Believe. New York: HarperOne, 2010, p. 208-209)

Questions Wright raises for me:

  • Are there ways in which I am focusing more on the “big sins” of others as a way of avoiding my own?
  • How might God want me to become more awake to my own shortcomings so that I might experience mercy and grow in grace myself?
  • Specifically, how might He wish our communities to focus more on loving one another in such a way that this mutual care overflows into the world around us?

(A repost from April 2010)