Christianity & two logical struggles
Binary logic & General-particular transition
In certain thinking, there are only two options; it’s either true or false. It is true that this has helped a lot in the digital revolution. But is life always so binary? Are Christianity and the church teaching so binary?
A necessary corollary is also about the question of moving from a general rule to a particular situation? Is it so straightforward?
Many Christians do think that “yes” is the answer to all the above questions; why do they think so? One of the primary reasons is that some of the Church teachings may have been introduced to them in such a manner. Or it is easier to think in binary because you always know the right answer. Or arriving at the answer, to make a judgment is so easy. Was Jesus a person who thought in binaries? Jesus may have thought in binaries, at times…but definitely not all the time. He treated people (at times) differently from the general rules. I think it is true with the church too. Maybe a few examples clarify it.
- “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.” (Luke 6, 29) This is one of the commandments of Jesus. But does it mean that the person who suffered the injustice should continue to suffer? Jesus would demand his followers not to give back violence for violence, but love. Does it mean, you don’t have the right to protest? And probably you have a counter verse in the Bible itself.
When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” (John 18, 22–23).
Jesus has given a general rule in the statement of showing the other cheek. But don’t apply the rule blindly as if it is the only rule. Discerning based on the situation is very important.
2. The church speaks highly of the sanctity of marriage. This is the universal idea, and the general rule which emerges from it is that divorce is unacceptable. But in church, the annulment of marriage does take place, though it is uncommon, exceptional, and quite time-consuming. The point of this article is not to get into the discussion on divorce etc, but to show that things are not black and white even in the official teachings too.
Similar incidences can be found on many other teachings, which are occasionally thought of as black/white. I find two interesting points here;
- Not to go completely with black/white logic. Shades of grey do exist, and discernment is important in most cases.
- General rules do exist. But moving from general rule to a particular case is not always straightforward.
I think following these two points can save the church from many of the unnecessary criticisms, and be more authentic to Jesus. Definitely, it complicates things; responses and solutions are not easy; it needs time and energy;
Who said the easy path is the authentic one???