Sometimes I get incredibly frustrated that there are sides within the Christian world. And then there are time where I just think that God must love diversity among His flock, and dang-it, we all need to learn to appreciate that more.
I don't know about you, but I love history--really love it. I know so many people who really dislike history because school turned into this drudgery, but history isn't drudgery. History in it's genuine state is storytelling--true storytelling. And shortly after the reformation, those in the Catholic church murmured--and right they were--that after this huge break, the Protestants would forever be breaking and dividing from each other. Time has proven those little prophetic words true.
There are now so many differing Christian groups, denominations, subcultures, and--to use the more popular term now--"tribes" across the board, all of which have differing views and beliefs about gray issues.
Christianity is not as black-and-white as it's portrayed. Christianity does have black and white to it, but there comes many shades of gray in between. This is why Christianity is living in tension and why scripture exhorts us to practice wisdom. In the Bible God gives us commands--foundational truths, which are cut and dry. They are good, they are right, they are perfect, and to say otherwise is to be quite frankly, wrong. In other words they're not up for debate; God has said them to be true and we cannot undo them. (*Go figure, God actually literally meant some of the things He said... funny how that works.*) These are the black and white.
But then there are the gray areas... things like... alcohol consumption (providing the person isn't getting drunk or breaking the civil laws), celebrating Halloween, complementarian vs. egalitarian, tattoos, the types of media we entertain ourselves with, to date or to court?... and on the list goes. What do we do with these things? And is there room for differing opinions on them?
The Answers: We navigate the gray as a sailor navigates a sea with all it's differing tides and emotions. And yes, there's indeed room for differing opinions on many of the gray issues, because here's what all protestants for centuries have said: To be a Christian means one holds to those truths presented in the Apostle's creed (and other creeds that are extremely similar with the Nicene being another one) as primary beliefs. Everything else is secondary or tertiary, and there's grace and freedom to wriggle and wrestle with our convictions on those things. Which means some of us are going to navigate our ships along the water in different paths. We're going to be convicted and swayed differently because we're all extremely diverse, with our own backgrounds and experiences.
Any parent will tell you that no two children of their own are the same. They're different in a variety of ways. They have different strengths, and likewise different weaknesses. But they belong and are loved by their mother and father. Just as all Christians--with their differences--belong and are loved by their Heavenly Father.
We have the same Shepherd, we belong, and are united in one flock.