Alright, let me start in on the Nehemiah Institute and their Mini-PEERS test. (See my earlier post "What Did You Call Me?" if you're confused.) One of my biggest beefs I have with the test is how poorly it seems to be written. Take question number nine -- probably the worst offender, in my opinion. Here is the statement: Individuals should be allowed to conduct life as they choose as long as it does not interfere with the lives of others. This sounds to me like the typical libertarian view of things. (I dated a guy in high school who was a rabid libertarian. He would say, "Your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins.")
For the record, I answered this with a "TA" (Tend to Agree) -- with the available choices being Strongly Agree, Tend to Agree, Neutral, Tend to Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. There are situations, such as those when individuals are under the authority of another who is responsible for their well-being, when it behooves one to interfere in the life of another. I'm not completely sold on the libertarian philosophy, but I certainly lean that way more than the other; thus, my response.
However, Nehemiah Institute indicates that a Biblical response would be to disagree with the statement. I wasn't completely surprised, but I was puzzled by their explanation for why we should disagree. "We are all accountable for helping our brother not sin," they say. They quote familiar scriptures about reproving each other when we are doing wrong. It is a loving thing, they argue, to warn people when they are on the wrong track.
Well, yeah. One for the duh file, as Jay Leno says. And when we do confront people, we hope and pray they turn from their erroneous ways. But if they don't . . if they hear our warnings and still choose to continue in their sinful behavior . . well, what then? Do we not then "allow them to conduct life as they choose as long as it does not interfere with the lives of others"?
I mean, unless they're breaking the law, what else would we do? Beat them over the head with a brick? Shame and humiliate them? Cry and whine and blubber until they give in to shut us up?
We can't force them to do the right thing. God doesn't even do that. I think that's a basic tenet of the gospel, isn't it? God wants us to choose. He doesn't force our hand. He wants us to obey him out of love and trust.
The concept in the original statement (people are allowed the freedom to choose wrong as long as others aren't harmed) and the concept in their explanation (we should lovingly warn someone we see choosing wrong) are not incompatible Biblically, as far as I can see. Warning someone of the dangers we see coming doesn't deny them their freedom; acknowledging they have freedom to choose isn't being unloving.
Either their explanation doesn't fit the statement, or it is a very simplistic response to the issue. Either way, I'm not impressed.
Am I wrong, friends? If so, please point it out. Lord knows, I don't want to be a secular humanist unawares.