The Perils of Status Quo Theology

An interesting discussion was started over at the Faith and Theology blog yesterday. The name of the post is “On the Moral Superiority of Gays”, dated 3 May 2008. The point of the post is, to quote Ben Myers, “the task of Christian ethics is not to shore up the status quo, not to reassure us of our own security – and certainly not to naturalise the status quo, so that our own behavior becomes the self-evident norm against which every deviation can be identified and condemned as such. Instead, the task of Christian ethics is to bring us under the judgment of the gospel, and to remind us that our action is always fraught with danger.”

On the surface, I agree with the spirit of this conclusion (based on the writings of Rowan Williams and Stanley Hauerwas). I agree that theology, and especially homilies, must not be reduced to making the pew dwellers feel comfortable and secure in their own salvation. The Gospel message is indeed revolutionary and life changing, but is rarely treated as such. Having said that, I am uncomfortable with the conclusions that have seemed to be drawn from this understanding of Christian ethics. It is almost as if the job of the Christian ethicist is to merely question the status quo, or to, at least, regularly question it. But what sense would this make? This would render traditional moral values suspect simply because they have always been held to be true. Of course, accepting something merely because it is traditional can also be problematic, but must we go so far the other way that traditional morality is questioned simply because there has been a virtual consensus for centuries? I hope not.


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