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Can A Christian's Morals Be Progressive? - 8/31/2012
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During my morning commute I was listening to a sport talk radio host discuss the need for people to be "progressive." The host was talking about Augusta National's recent decision to admit women into their organization as golfing members. Like most people I have heard the term "progressive" being mentioned relative to a whole litany of topics such as politics, race, gender and more recently sexuality. It is this mixed association that has given me pause to reflect as to the merit of being "progressive" as a Christian.
M-W.com defines the word "
" as :
of, relating to, or characterized by progress
making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities.
In order to measure progress, it is implied that there must be two points of reference, a point of origination and a desired end point. To make a judgment on the degree of progress made, one must observe and measure the distance traveled along the path between the origination point and the destination point. Fundamentally speaking, in order to progress and cross the "moral" gap illustrated by my geometric reference there must be movement.
It is that need for movement, change in position, that caused me to consider the validity and value of being progressive. Progressive thinking implies that truth can change and evolve over time relative to cultural and societal pressures. Meaning if I can protest loud enough or boycott long enough then I have a great chance of making society reconsider long-held positions. As a Christian, we believe that:
God is the source of absolute truth.
Truth is not mutable(subject to change):
As Christians we are called to live and adhere to the Word of God for the source of truth (
1 John 5:1-5
). Given that the source of truth on the Christian's world view is an eternal and immutable God, then our morals cannot be progressive in the sense they they change with social pressure, but that our understanding and growth in God's word promotes us to further shed worldly perspectives and deepen our understanding of biblical truth (
The reason it is important to understand the implications and dangers of crafting progressive morals is that "moral movement" erodes conviction and leads to sin. One tactic used by proponents of progressive thought is the coupling of secular values that align with biblical values to secular values that do not align with biblical values. For instance, racial equality is often championed as a major accomplishment of progressive thought in America. No Christian can refute the importance and biblical basis for racial equality. However progressive thought runs afoul of Christian beliefs when it tries to draw analogous comparisons of sexual preference(homosexuality) to that of race. In doing so, those in favor of homosexual legislative measures can equate morally the frustrations of homosexuals that stem from the lack of legal support for their lifestyle(marriage, etc...) as being as unjust as the racism experienced by Blacks in America.
In conclusion, the key differentiation the Christian must make in developing moral values is can the proposed moral value be substantiated biblically. If God's Word is being taught accurately in an attempt to orate God's Will for our lives, then we will develop a deeper and richer understanding of biblical morality. Growth in our understanding will promote the courage to stand on conviction when our morals deviate from secular thought, even at the expense of not being "progressive." No avoidance of social pressures, boycotts, protests, or popularity contests is worth the forfeiting our souls and deviation from the perfect and pleasing Will of God.
By: Jamison Smallwood
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