Yesterday I was having lunch with Melinda West, a Community Network Developer for the Mt Druitt Community Ministry, when she came out with a fascinating phrase, “Skinning the fish before you’ve caught it.”
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
You see, we’d been talking about public Christianity and the problems it sometimes experiences in engaging with our pluralistic culture. I had a sense where she was coming from but just had to make sure.
“It’s when Christians try to force Christian behavioural standards onto people who haven’t experienced Christian conversion yet,” she said, or something to that effect.
“Legislating grace you mean?”
Melinda then related the story of a prostitute who’d been drawn to a church and had gotten the message that she needed to tithe. So she did. But it was only belatedly that the pastor realised she was faithfully tithing from her prostitution money, which understandably triggered a rethink.
Sometimes the issue is not the real issue.
Which brings me to the current controversies about same sex marriage. I thinker there is a lot of “skinning” of uncaught fish going on here. Whilst I agree with conservatives, that it is very difficult, even impossible, to reconcile homosexual lifestyles with holy scripture, I do not see church defence of state legislation as a particularly biblical response. What we need to encourage more of is transforming relationships not legalistic lobbying.