14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
“Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6.14-18 (NIV)
I’m going to blog about chapter 18 of my book. I’ve already blogged about it before as a negative example for how to use scripture. In my book, I’ve already established that the passage was not about marriage between believers and unbelievers. Rather, it is about unity between radically different value systems within the church possibly propagated by different parties. I believe this passage has huge implications for HK in the present climate among SOME pastors to call for unity. The Chinese Christian blog sphere also lit up with discontent and outrage. I believe Paul’s teaching prohibits the church from a compromised unity. In a situation where black and white are not neutralized by heavy shades of grey, perhaps, unity is not the answer, as we shall see below.
The passage talks about being yoked together possibly borrowing from farming practice of putting two different animals together to plow. In this metaphor, Paul was talking about working together with unbelievers, but was Paul’s writing a total prohibition on working with unbelievers? I don’t believe so. The subsequent verses show that certain anti-Christian results that came from working with unbelievers such as idolatry. In other words, you can’t work with unbelievers if the results go against the fundamentals of Christian value. For believers who may be tempted to link themselves to such anti-Christian values, they ought to separate themselves. This is the essence of Paul’s message. Let’s look at the HK situation.
The fault line between the two parties in the church is political where one party sides with the government and the other does not. Before we call for reconciliation and unity, let’s see what reconciliation consists of. The most successful example of recent history is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South African abolition of Apartheid. In fact, this bloodless revolution has caused other countries to form TRC’s, countries as varied as Colombia, Nigeria, Canada and so on. In reconciliation, those who are wrong do not get an easy escape. They confess that they’re wrong not because they hold a different opinion and reject others’ opinions, but because they actually hold the WRONG opinion about race and politics and must confess their falsehood. Bring that to HK. Can anyone honestly say that siding with the government that lies repeatedly to its own people is RIGHT? Is oppression and dishonesty part of our Christian value system? We don’t need to sweep rubbish under the table right now. We need separation from lies. We need truth, even if that truth tears our church asunder. This recent protest movement has become the mirror in the church to show where everyone stands in relation of oppression and dishonesty. We need those who have supported lies in the faith community to 1) confess their sins 2) to separate from such anti-Christian values. The preachers from those rich and large churches who have sided with governmental oppression should be the first to come out and confess their sins! I dare them to be an example to the flock by following Paul’s advice.
IF our church leaders are willing to take such harsh and courageous steps the way Desmond Tutu did, I’m all in favor of reconciliation and unity. Otherwise, count me out! So, if you want a Christian way to do unity and reconciliation, read, meditate and apply 2 Corinthians 6.14 for its real meaning instead of going for cheap unity because cheap unity will create more injury in the long run. So, for now, give me a break from this cheap unity talk because such unity is not just untenable; it’s immoral.
As I always say, the texts are not at fault. The interpreter is!