Sunday, August 16, 2009

Where There's Smoke...

I try to give other churches and other Christians the benefit of the doubt. Only God knows the heart and I'm in no position to judge anyone. However, I will challenge anyone who will listen to "live a life worth of the calling you have received." (Ephesians 4:1) And I will also call out what I believe to be blatant cases of false doctrine (on this blog these are generally related to politics). But this is just fishy to me.

When I first saw the headline it read, "teen fears parents will kill her after conversion." I was all ready to whip out a post on "perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:8) thinking it was the parents who converted. This is the common argument against parental notification for abortions by minors. It's a sad world we live in when children are so fearful of their parents that they'd rather kill an unborn life than face them. Even more sad that so many have twisted their own religion to completely remove grace so that some children are right to be afraid.

But this is different. In this case, the girl converted from her Muslim upbringing. She fears her parents will kill her for the sake of their "honor". Tragically, this is a reality in may parts of the world, but seems out of place in the United States where we can freely exercise our religion.

However, it's not this case that I want to write about. Rather her church is what caught my attention. I recognized the name (only reported by AOL that I could find) from this lengthy discussion at theophiles. Both cases are similar- minor converts against the will of his and her parents, parents label church a cult, and "a man [is turned] against his father, a daughter against her mother..." (Matthew 10:35ff)

It's a cycle my fellowship of churches recognizes all too well. In fact when the first story broke I thought it was a sister church. Even the church's description (small groups, discipleship, evangelistic) made me think so. But there is one (doctrinally a couple) significant difference- we would never convert a minor against the will of their parents. (I'm not meaning to sound prideful, but I've spent most of my Christian life in the teen ministry and that is rule #1, even for teens whose parents are members of the church. If the parents say no, that's the end of the story.)

While we enjoy religious freedom in this country, and the above scripture does tell us that the Gospel will divide our families, we still have to abide by the law of the land: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." (Romans 13:1) And in this country, parents have the legal authority over their children while they are minors.

The runaway girl is an interesting case since she believes her life is in danger. If her church is trying to score "persecution" points in the media, shame on them. But they should have never pursued converting this girl until she was legally out of her home. Even if it was initiated by her, she still needs to follow the Bible and obey her parents (Ephesians 6:1-3, Colossians 3:20, Exodus 20:12). Her small group/discipleship partner/whatever should have been quick to point this out.

I pray for the safety of this girl and I pray for compassion from her parents. Most of all, I pray for her church, that it is a light to the world- who is an abassador of Christ that is spreading a true Gospel that unites believers.

No comments: