Let’s talk about the Third Way

Jun 6, 2014 by

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If you have been reading recent statements by Mennonite Church USA leaders, or even engaging in more private conversations about the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Mennonite church, you have heard the term “third way.” A lot.

Coming from denominational leadership, third way seems to be code for status quo. Calls for people to adopt the third way boil down to: “Let’s everyone just calm down about all of this sexuality stuff so the church doesn’t split.” The “third way” is presented as simply a complacent middle ground.

And that’s a fine way to use the term “third way” in the secular world. The Wikipedia entry for “Third Way” defines it as a political philosophy that “tries to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics.” So for the sake of political sanity, if we’re seeking political expediency, we can talk about about the third way as a coming together of two opposing sides, as a place to be concerned about our “rhetorical tone,” as Ervin Stutzman put it (in a recent MC USA blog).

But I am not looking for political sanity or expediency in my denomination. I am looking for faithfulness to the way of Jesus. In our church discussions, we should not be invoking the secular meaning of the third way, we should be thinking hard about the theological meaning of that term.

Walter Wink uses this term to describe Jesus’ teachings about turning the other cheek and walking the extra mile. In Jesus’ day, a Roman soldier was allowed to force a Jewish peasant to carry his gear for one mile. So if a soldier thrust his gear on a peasant, the two obvious responses were for the peasant to throw the gear down and refuse to walk or to carry the gear one mile. The third way is to carry the gear two miles. The first mile is required, but the second mile is a choice — a choice that would probably confuse the soldier, possibly even get the soldier in trouble if his superiors thought he was breaking the rules.

From a theological perspective, there are a few things we need to understand about the “third way.”

First, the third way is not for white, middle class, straight men. Theologically speaking, the third way is for those who are oppressed. It’s for the one who gets slapped on the cheek — not the one who does the slapping. It’s for the Jewish peasant weighed down with military gear — not the Roman soldier. And, in the context of our discussions about sexuality, it is for queer Mennonites who have been demeaned and excluded by the church — not for us straight people.

Second, the third way is not synonymous with being nice to each other. I mean, there is nothing wrong with being nice to each other, but that is not what the third way is about. The truth is that Jesus’ “rhetorical tone” varied widely depending on who he was talking to — and possibly how tired and cranky he was. He spoke gently to the children and the woman caught in adultery. He got testy with the disciples. He called the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers.” He turned over the money changers’ tables in the temple. If the third way means following Jesus, then it cannot also mean smiling and nodding and trying to make everyone happy all of the time.

Finally, the third way does not have to do with compromise, or even synergy. There are plenty of texts in scripture that do talk about the early church — the gifting of the Spirit, the way that disagreements were negotiated, the importance of love and humility in community. So there is a place for synergy — and even compromise — when it comes to many of the questions we face as churches. But if we are talking about compromise, we are talking about something different from the third way. The third way is for people who have no power to negotiate a compromise or participate in the decision-making synergy.

If we are going to continue to use the term “third way” in our discussions of sexuality and the church, we need to start using it based on its theological meaning, not its political meaning. Theologically, the third way is not increased complacency to be negotiated by those in power. Theologically, the third way involves creative, peaceful resistance to oppressive forces.

Which means that, ultimately, our goal should be to have no need of a third way within the church. When all people are respected and power is truly shared, then the third way is not needed. When there are no longer oppressed people within the church, then we will be better able to live as the true church, walking the third way together with the powerless out in the world. Just like Jesus did.

Joanna Harader is pastor of Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, Kan., and blogs at Spacious Faith, where this post originally appeared.

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  • berryfriesen

    When Jesus called upon his listeners to “take up their cross and follow,” he was describing the “third way” of the Kingdom of God. Yes, he was speaking theologically; yes, he was speaking politically.

    Jesus’ third way was a marked contrast to the first way of the Pharisees (piety and purity) and the second way of the Herodians (accommodation with empire). Turning the other cheek was a specific way of taking up the cross.

    For us today, the debate about same-sex relationships is divided between the advocates for piety/purity and the advocates for accommodation. They are the same two ways Jesus rejected in his milieu.

    The third way for us will require, as it did for Jesus disciples, confrontation with empire.

    It’s shocking to see a teaching in Harader’s post that excludes the way of the cross for those who happen to possess one racial, gender and sexual identity: “the third way is not for white, middle class, straight men.” But when we choose the way of the Herodians, that is the kind of divisive politics we get.

    As for the use of “third way” in U.S. politics, it was pioneered by Bill Clinton and the “new democrats” of his ilk. They championed liberal social causes in public and behind closed doors sold out the party’s historic ideals to Wall Street, following pretty much the same script as the Herodians in Jesus’ time.

    • Elaine Fehr

      Berry, aren’t there just two choices – God’s way or Satan’s way? (Nicely illustrated in Matthew.)7:13,14

      • berryfriesen

        Elaine, my reference was to Mark 8 and the “yeast of the Pharisees” and the “yeast of the Herodians,” in contrast to which Jesus spoke of his way as the bread of life.

        • Dan Rush

          Supporting deviancy and abomination is not the way of GOD but the call of Satan. Repent you fools or be turned away by GOD.

      • Lisa_Schirch

        Elaine, In the past Mennonites have split over whether or not to use buttons, to have sunday school, to allow African Americans in our churches and schools. And people in the church also said they alone knew what was “God’s way.” They cited this passage in Matthew when they said it was ungodly to have sunday school.

        We disagree about scripture. Some of us think it is more evil to deny people the right to go to church. When I look back at our church history, of the hatred between Mennonites over the use of buttons or hook and eye fasteners on our clothing, I think God must be very disappointed that pacifist Christians are so hateful of each other and so self-righteous to think that they alone know God’s way and that anyone with a different interpretation of scripture must be following Satan…. Mennonites have done so much violence to each other.

        • Elaine Fehr

          Lisa, all those issues you mentioned point to lack of biblical understanding. Whether brought on wilfully or ignorantly. I don’t know, but it is spiritually dangerous. One thing I do know is that if a believer in Jesus Christ truly seeks the will of God, and diligently studies His word, then it becomes possible to differentiate between man’s often misguided rules and God’s laws. Only then can there be a sense of peace as it becomes crystal clear as to how God wants us to live our lives.

  • Thank you for writing this, Joanna.
    The “third way” (and, for Berry, that’s code for “the way of Jesus”) is all about a radical extension of Scripture into radical action. “Going the extra mile” for our friends in the LGBTQ category means precisely taking up their burden (primarily social mariginalization) as our own, and following through with the promise made in the Sermon on the Mount: “The meek shall inherit the earth”.
    Joanna is absolutely right to point out that those in power do not get to set the terms of the discussion. Privilege begets abuse–a concept not unfamiliar to those who read their Bibles, I’m sure. The canary in the mineshaft here is our own ability to accept those that seem “too different” from the norms decided by the privileged class. If we can’t bring everyone full citizenship in the Kingdom as they are, that bird’s gonna surely meet an early demise.
    Pick up that luggage, Folks. And walk it all the way home. Some of our other friends could use the rest.

    Zack Gingrich-Gaylord
    Marginal Mennonite Society
    Wichita, Kansas

  • Berry, you’ve been talking about this “third way” for a long time. I think you said you’d been involved in seeking such a compromise for some 20 years or more. Well, isn’t it time you define what such a compromise would entail? I have some suggestions. 1) All churches would become “welcoming” churches and same-sex weddings would be performed in those states where it is legal. However, the compromise would be that LGBT people would not be allowed to be actual church members for a five year waiting period, after which the current membership of any congregation can approve or disapprove membership for LGBT people. 2) Abolish membership altogether. Welcome everyone to congregations, but have no official memberships. 3) Establish a “third way” of Bible interpretation, allowing for multiple interpretations. Scholarship can be cited to confirm things one way or another, so accept that not everyone will adhere to your particular reading and — especially inasmuch as some specific passage does not apply to you or your behavior personally — refrain from judging another’s interpretation. Welcome everybody on that basis: non-judgment.
    Those are pretty much off the top of my head, but they are actual, actionable ideas. What are yours? I’m not interested in who is right and who is wrong. I want to hear some solid suggestions, something to at least chew on.

    • berryfriesen

      Greg, advocates for change have shown the church where we have failed: we passed statements at conventions and then treated that as the end of it. We (or many of us) failed and/or refused to engage with same-gendered couples and individuals with that disposition as we do others who for one reason or another do not meet the highest values of our community.

      Correcting this is not a “compromise”; it is a matter of faithfulness to our calling in Messiah Jesus.

      Faithfulness will require us to re-engage with such persons, welcome them into membership, bless their commitments and encourage them to love, fidelity and service as couples. I wouldn’t call that marriage because I hold the traditional understanding of marriage, but what it is called is likely to be a decision congregations make one by one, just as each congregation will decide how to carry out the new call to faithfulness vis-à-vis gay and lesbian persons.

      Faithfulness also would require us to remain true to our historic identity as a community shaped by the Bible. So we wouldn’t change our traditional understandings of Genesis 2 and Romans 1, even as we learn anew the meaning of Isaiah 56 and Acts 8. Nor would we change our written confession, nor our credentialing of pastors through conference structures, nor the relationships of accountability in place through those conferences to ensure our pastors honor the commitments they have made. Thus, we would continue to expect our pastors to teach heterosexual union as the divine design for sexual expression and also to teach that for those unfit for such a relationship, God also provides the blessing of his grace and Holy Spirit.

      I can even imagine Theda Good being licensed for ministry under this form of faithfulness, provided she is prepared to teach the church’s understanding of heterosexuality as the divine design.

      I don’t like any of the possibilities you outlined. Do you?

  • Vicki Penner

    Thank you Joanna for assisting the church in articulating the theological and biblical underpinnings of a commitment to inclusion.

  • James Regier

    Very well stated, Joanna.

    Berry, I must admit I am more than a little bit confused by this reference to “empire”. Or what you are referring to as “Herodian” about Joanna’s argument. As I understand the issue, we, as a church, are attempting to discern the great question of whether we can remain one body despite disagreements about how we ought to view and treat those among us who are not heterosexual. Our conclusions in the matter proceed not from how the “empire” might be served or opposed, but rather from the dictates of conscience and good faith.

    Now we have two major factions. One that, upon discernment of relevant scripture, has chosen to “hate the sin, but love the sinner”. This is the most mild end of the spectrum, which ranges from those who would deny congregational membership to GLBTQ people until repentance to very extreme factions whose names and stances do not bear repeating.

    Another faction, upon discernment of relevant scripture, combined with discernment of compelling biological and psychological evidence, has concluded that our former interpretation of scripture to classify of non-heterosexual orientation and activity as a category of sin is every bit as relevant as interpretations of scripture that have been used to justify racial segregation, sexism, genocide, and imperial aggression. These folks believe that our GLBTQ brothers and sisters ought to be considered full standing members of congregations. From there, many would conclude that we cannot, in good conscience, exclude our GLBTQ brothers and sisters from church leadership, refuse to bless their relationships, or extend any of the other privileges that accompany church membership in good standing. This comes not from what may or may not be going on with the legal situation outside the church, but rather from an understanding that this is the right and Christ-like thing to do.

    As such, the only reasonable “Third Way”, if there is to be one–I would concur with Joanna that the term is perhaps misapplied here–would be to allow congregations to choose their own membership and pastors, free from the interference of other congregations. A true answer might come in the explicit recognition, from the conference level, that all, regardless of orientation–or opinions of orientation–are involved in the same vital mission of following Christ, in bringing healing to a broken world, in finding creative ways to right the wrongs of society.

    • berryfriesen

      James, the Herodian approach operates within prevailing ideology; this MO is its pathway to power and influence.

      Harader follows that approach in her unfortunate post; she takes the factionalism of 21st Century USA and uses its categories to define the meaning of justice and who is qualified to contend for justice within the church.

      The Bible is written against a background of empire, which claims the legitimate authority to define for one and all what is reasonable and what is unreasonable, what will work in managing the affairs of the world and what will fail, what is just and what is unjust, what is loving and what is hateful, why violence is necessary and where to use it.

      Jesus inaugurated another way for the world to operate and he called into being a political community that made this other way visible. The empire understood this to be a challenge to it legitimacy, which is why it responded as harshly as it did. Paul had a special genius for talking about all of this; 1 Corinthians 1 is an example.

      Sylvian Keesmaat and Brian Walsh (Colossians Remixed) write, “If all the maps are provided by the empire, it all the reality we can see is what the empire has constructed as reality for us, then our praxis will never be creative and it will never be subversive to the empire.”

      Your two choices are right off the empire’s roadmap, James. We can call them the Republican and Democrat options, or the rural and urban options, or the old fashioned and hip options. Absolutely nothing subversive about any of them.

      The early church said to the empire, we don’t accept the authority of your map; we have a better one. The empire didn’t care if they were conservative or liberal or what god they worshipped, but it hated having another map out there attracting adherents and creating another political reality.

      Our debates about sexuality may sound religious, but in our honest moments, few of us expect God to drop a hammer on people who fall short of the ideal. It’s a political discussion; we’re trying to decide whether our understanding of Jesus and the gospel preached by Paul is a map we still believe in, or whether the empire’s choices pretty well cover the waterfront and the best we can do is yell at one another about which one is best and then come to some sort of unhappy compromise.

  • Gary Hill

    Joanna, when a “man lies with a man” is it oppression to offer both men God’s forgiveness and salvation? I believe this is God’s love we are to share.

  • Lisa_Schirch

    In the field of peacebuilding, we also talk about finding a “third way” – though it is different from the Walter Wink definition used here. In peacebuilding, finding a third way means listening to multiple perspectives – in this case the spectrum of view in the church on same-sex sexuality. Listening takes place for two purposes: first to identify the common ground and second to identify the differences. Peacebuilding usually starts by building awareness of common ground and then moves to identify mechanisms for working on differences that are causing tension or violence.

    There is much common ground on sexuality. I believe across the spectrum, Mennonites believe in sexual integrity. I think all of us would critique Hollywood and advertiser’s exploitation of the human body for purposes of marketing. I think all of us would advocate that sexuality is sacred and can, on the other hand, cause great harm if it is experienced in an abusive relationship.

    If the church focused on broadening our understanding of sexual integrity, it would have to work to make sure sexual abuse doesn’t take place in the church. It would have to make sure that rape of any kind, even in marriage, was deemed immoral. It would have to take steps to promote healthy sexuality among Mennonite youth – encouraging them to critique the media’s sexualization as entertainment. It would have to speak out for sexual integrity for people of all sexual orientations. It would have to stop point the finger at people of minority of church members with same-sex sexuality and instead advocate for sexual integrity for everyone and most importantly for heterosexuals since the majority of the Mennonite church are heterosexual.

    But in the past, the church has failed to stop Mennonite leaders groping and forcibly kissing women who did not invite or ask for these assualts. The church chose to protect the dignity of church leaders sexually assaulting women instead of taking steps to make sure all the women, men and children in the church were both safe and were empowered to speak out on sexual abuse. The church failed to hold sexual perpetrators accountable to their victims. The church still turns a blind eye to the abuse happening in Mennonite homes. There is too much silence on the widespread lack of sexual integrity in the church. There is too much pride to look more broadly. So people of same-sex sexuality are scapegoated.

    This is the “third way” for the church. MCUSA has made positive steps to address the historical harms made by church leaders in the past. The John Howard Yoder Discernment Group is a positive sign that today’s church, with women in leadership, takes violence against women seriously. MCUSA should now also take steps to move away from the focus on same-sex sexuality and broader the church discussion to focus on how the church as a whole can advocate “sexual integrity.”

  • James Regier

    Berry, I am concerned that you are so obsessed with the concept of empire vs. cross that you see it in everything, and are almost reactionary to it. The thing is, sometimes the paths, or maps, to use your phrasing, intersect. Moreover, some matters simply do not fit within the rubric at all.

    The idea that we must include our GLBTQ brothers and sisters in our congregations extends not from empire, but from an understanding of human dignity, fairness, and brotherhood in Christ. The idea that we ought to be able to call them to serve as leaders comes from the idea that all believers are called to the priesthood.

    Again, I say both sides must recognize–bearing in mind that the failure to recognize this is not equally balanced between the sides–that the work of the kingdom of God, the work of the church, is far more important than our quibbling about this one particular issue. The vital work of the church requires all hands. Perhaps we can look at this instead of who is unworthy of doing the work.

    • berryfriesen

      James, we do need one another, you’re right about that. And we should ecome a welcoming church because the Way of Jesus will save Earth, while the empire’s way is destroying it. And no, I’m not just talking about its insatiable greed and thirst for power or how it has destroyed Iraq, Libya and Syria, now has begun destroying Ukraine, and has its sights set on Venezuela and Iran and Russia too. I’m also talking about how its political, educational, media, cultural and economic leaders have joined their voices to call good evil and evil good.

      So how do we become a welcoming church but not on the empire’s terms? That is the third way we must seek and find.

      You say that the empire’s ways and the ways of Jesus sometimes intersect. In theory, I tend to agree, although I’m sure you would choke rather than say that about certain empires of the past that we could name. Well, I choke now too. And I am astonished at the number of my brothers and sisters within the church who know full well what evil the empire has done in the world and how hopeless its vision for the future of Earth is and yet imagine its elite can instruct us on the meaning of love, justice, and the fellowship of the Spirit within the church of Messiah Jesus.

      • James Regier

        And in what ways do you see “[the empire’s] elite instruct us on the meaning of love, justice, and the fellowship of the Spirit”? This is the key point I am missing.

        • berryfriesen

          James, I understand the church to be a social movement whose purpose is to live out the saving way of Jesus. His way subverts the claims of empire and so the church and empire are fundamentally at odds. This is what we read about in Paul’s writings.

          When someone discredits the church because of its failure to meet standards that are not its own nor from another religion, then we must ask what other societal structure is the source of those standards. The empire is the most likely source; after all, it is the source of the worldview most people live by in North American and Europe and it is the configuration of power that has the most to fear from the church.

          Joanna Harader writes that “the third way is not for white, middle class, straight men.” As we know, Jesus and the early church called all people to the third way, the way of the cross. One cannot truncate that call unless another frame
          of reference has been elevated above the Way of Jesus. I call that frame of reference empire because it so happily accommodates interest group divisiveness. What would you call it? It’s a classic divide and conquer tactic, long a favorite way for empire to weaken dissenting elements within society, but I do not assume Harader used it for that purpose.

          Lisa Schirch writes that “sexual integrity” should replace heterosexual marriage as our highest sexual value. Only an imperial hubris could be so dismissive of what has been so important to so many for so long. Any non-imperial frame of reference – even if it called for change – would take pains not to be dismissive.

          The faction calling for change in the church claims that using scripture to call non-heterosexual orientation and activity “sin” is parallel to interpretations of scripture that have been used to justify racial segregation, sexism, genocide, and imperial aggression. OK, this doesn’t exhibit imperial fingerprints, just a lack of serious attention to the Bible and church history. We should not inflate the importance of such a claim by calling it imperial; it’s just lazy.

          Lisa Schirch characterizes Mennonite efforts to maintain movement standards as “hate” and an effort to keep people from joining the movement. Implicit in such a view is an impoverished understanding of civil society: only those who “hate” can live by a rationality other than the prevailing one. Again, this is how the empire’s sycophants talk when they seek to ridicule and marginalize opposition. I don’t know why Schirch chooses to talk this way, but I can’t ignore whose interests it serves.

          • James Regier

            Sorry. I just cannot buy this logic.

            Abolition of slavery ran counter to “church tradition”, as did desegregation, as did gender equality. At least one powerful school of historiography has put forth the argument that modern antisemitism, and ultimately even the Holocaust was “new wine in an old wineskin” (Richard Steigmann Gall). Or, to put it more clearly, amounted to the empire’s (in this case the Third Reich’s) ability to co-opt and subvert Christian prejudices to sinister ends, noting the number of protestant clergy heavily involved in Third Reich leadership and the broad appeal of the German Christian movement. Each of these other examples amounted to the same sort of subversion of Biblical texts and “church tradition” to serve unjust, imperial ends.

            So here is why I cannot buy this argument about “imperialism” or “Herodianism” related to efforts to end heterosexism and homophobia within the church. Each and every example of “imperial” or “Herodic” subversion of church principles has involved an interpretation of “church tradition” to favor the disenfranchisement or dehumanization of one group or another. Welcoming our GLBTQ brothers and sisters as full members of the church, with recognized leadership potential and full accountability to the faith community, would do quite the opposite. It would enfranchise, humanize, and represent the ONLY plausible third way.

            In the wake of abolition, in the process desegregation (which is not complete by any means), and in the wake of the Holocaust, the argument is ubiquitous that “The Bible was always against this. They–it’s not nearly often enough ‘we’–interpreted it incorrectly.” And this phrasing is not incorrect, because people have used to the Bible to support all manner of imperial injustice. I believe the same will be the case for heterosexism. For many people, it already is.

          • berryfriesen

            The Bible doesn’t speak with one voice on women’s status, slavery, imperialism, violence or xenophobia. So both sides of those arguments have been able to claim biblical support. Yet the significance of those mixed messages recedes when compared to the remarkable coherence we see in the writings of the prophets, the post-exilic writings of Genesis and Leviticus, the teachings of Jesus and the letters of Paul (he did not write 1 Corinthians 14:34-40 nor Titus and 2 Timothy, IMO). This line of teaching is consistent, very supportive of human dignity, passionate about justice, and convinced that empire is leading us to destruction.

            It hasn’t been understood to support same-gendered unions, but it may be there (as I stated in my response to Greg below). But we won’t find it so long as we insist that it be articulated in terms of “equality,” “fairness” or new understandings of gender. Instead, we will find it as we reclaim our understanding of our church as a social movement with a very political purpose. We don’t exist to tell the world that everything is going to be all right, nor to reassure everyone that they are going to be all right, nor to give everyone’s voice the same weight. We are a mission movement; we exist to proclaim that the way of Jesus is the salvation of Earth and to live in that truth by what we do and say. Within that purpose, many sinners are welcome (who else is available?) but not all, not those who reject the authority of our Lord or the authority of the church to both forgive and retain sins (John 20:23), not those who don’t care to be part of a movement that is very serious about calling out the deceptions of empire.

  • James Regier

    The Bible clearly spoke with one voice about each of these things, to support slavery, sexism, racism, colonialism, genocide (how many Native Americans lost their lives because of the zeal with which the conquistadors lived out the apostolic creed?). Until people decided it did not. Until people decided that these interpretations had become horribly wrong, had resulted in immense harm. The Bible has been readily made to support all manner of evil and empire, until people realized that these interpretations were wrong and dehumanizing.

    You say that the Bible never stated any of these things, but you only provide demonstration of my argument in doing so. It’s convenient to forget history, to pretend this hasn’t been the case over and over again, to pretend that the church, and its traditions, were on this unstoppable road of progress. But recognize this sort of whitewashing for what it is. In the empire’s terminology, this would be very much in the Whig line of interpretation.

    It has clearly been demonstrated by this point that the movement within the church to welcome our GLBTQ brothers and sisters has nothing to do with empire. That argument is completely bogus. Rather, it has to do with recognizing them for the human beings, the creations of God that they are, just as they are. I absolutely reject the notion that this would result in some sort of degradation of the Lord’s authority, of the church’s to forgive or retain sins, or of mutual accountability.

    • Berry Friesen

      James, the third way welcomes same-gender couples through the church’s exercise of the authority Jesus gave it to bind and loose, to forgive sin and to retain sin, and declare what frees and what enslaves. It makes this change in historic church practice by interpreting the Bible’s teachings with regard to human dignity and flourishing, listening to the Spirit, discerning the times and affirming the authority of the church as above the authority of any nation, ideology or human construct.

      The empire’s way welcomes same-gender couples through the ideology of rights. It makes this change in historic church practice by emphasizing the Bible’s support for oppression, equating human dignity with abstract notions of equality, ignoring the very real threats to Earth’s survival presented by empire, and delegitimizing the authority of the church to bind and loose and declare the purposes of God.

      Superficially, the results of these two paths seem similar; both lead to a new welcoming stance. But they are very different in rationale. One acts with the authority of Jesus to declare the purposes of God and embody the salvation of Messiah Jesus. The other neuters its authority by adopting the empire’s labels of “hate,” “heterosexism”, and “privilege.”

      • James Regier

        OK. So basically, Jesus would lead to the same conclusions, that GLBTQ brothers and sisters are welcome within the congregations, and that they are fit for church leadership. And the church has the authority to do it.

        I do not claim that the Bible supports oppression; I do not believe that, in all context, such a stance is defensible. I do, however claim that the Bible has consistently been used to support the oppression of empire, and this is irrefutable. If we want to get into the existential threats to the earth’s–or at least humanity’s–survival, one need only point to those climate change deniers for use of “Biblical” backup. So, forgive me if I fail to see this mystical line between the language of “empire” and the language of “faith”.

        One can only judge an action by its intent, and its effectiveness by its outcomes. Other metrics strike me as arguments of semantics that have little to no real world meaning. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin again?

  • Rainer Moeller

    In the LGBTQ question, my third way is simply that there are – and will always be – a lot of matters in which people disagree about what’s sin and what’s not. Take the early debates about eating meat sacrificed for idols (in which Paul gives very clear and useful advice). But this doesn’t affect the general truth that one has to love the sinner but not become complicit in his sin (as one understands it).

    I wouldn’t use “third way” for walking the extra mile. And I deny that this “extra mile” advice is only for outward situations of definite oppression – it is as well an advice for conflicts in families where there’s no definite border between the oppressors and the oppressed. Different from Harader I think that life consists out of situations in which both sides feel that the other is oppressive, and so life consists out of moral insecurities and ambiguities.