The Reported Issue
Last week Rice declared on her Facebook page that:
“I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”
Rice recommitted to the Roman Catholic Church in 1998 and she has openly described her decision to recommit to Christ.
‘In the moment of surrender, I let go of all the theological or social questions which had kept me from [God] for countless years. I simply let them go. There was the sense, profound and wordless, that if He knew everything I did not have to know everything, and that, in seeking to know everything, I’d been, all of my life, missing the entire point. No social paradox, no historic disaster, no hideous record of injustice or misery should keep me from Him. No question of Scriptural integrity, no torment over the fate of this or that atheist or gay friend, no worry for those condemned and ostracized by my church or any other church should stand between me and Him. The reason? It was magnificently simple: He knew how or why everything happened; He knew the disposition of every single soul. He wasn’t going to let anything happen by accident! Nobody was going to go to Hell by mistake. (Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, ISBN 978-0-307-268-27-3, p. 183)
Despite her declaration that she could trust God to judge correctly Rice never came to accept a biblical position on a number of issues as an interview with the LA Times in 2005 revealed (I’m not including her position on birth control in this);
“Her views will not please all of the devout. Rice favors gay marriage. She believes the church position regarding birth control is a grievous error that is not supported by Scripture. She repudiates what she sees as intolerant, “sex-obsessed” church leaders, and says she does not find support in the message of Jesus for their focus on sexual orientation or abortion. She argues for a more inclusive church”
Rice herself said in the interview;
“He (Jesus) doesn’t say anything about abortion,” Rice said. “He doesn’t say anything about gays. I abhor abortion too. But to make Christianity rise and fall on these issues is a great distortion of Christ’s message.”
Her statement about making Christianity all about homosexuality and abortion is entirely valid. Christianity is certainly relevant to these issues and vice versa but they are not central points in themselves. The irony is that Rice appears to have distorted Christ’s message herself by making her own Christianity rise and fall on these very issues (as well as others). As she said in her own statement above ‘I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist.’
The Real Issue
If Rice’s issues simply rested with the church’s conduct then I could say that I empathise with her. The church has not always represented Christ well. I do believe that the biblical position on homosexuality is that it is outside of God’s plan for the gift of sex (Romans 1:24-32) and that the biblical position on abortion is that we have no right to presume when life begins and cannot therefore end it at our own convenience. That said I do not support the crimes that others who hold these same beliefs have committed in the name of these values.
I would suggest, however, based on Rice’s own statements, that her problem goes beyond the church. In an interview with Joy Behar from HLN on CNN she speaks on whether she would join a church that had a gay minister or who were feminists. She says ‘That’s always been an option since the reformation, to find a group that more reflects what you hold to be the truth, or what you feel you have to hold onto….I prefer to walk away from the argument’
In her conversion to Christianity Rice declared that ‘no torment over the fate of this or that atheist or gay friend, no worry for those condemned and ostracized by my church or any other church should stand between me and Him.’
Anne Rice’s torment over the fate of her gay or atheist friend is a noble thing. It is a concern that all believers should share. However it is not justification for rejecting scripture and sound biblical doctrine.
Rice would have people believe that she is still committed to Christ while simply departing the church.
‘I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.’
However, what she is really committed to is a picture of Christ that she has created for herself that endorses the values she wants to hold. Ultimately instead of trusting in Christ to judge rightly according to the laws He has given, she has chosen to redefine right and wrong for herself and to stand in judgement of the church.
This is not an issue of trying to convince Rice to return to church. Some parts of the church, as in institution, are absolutely guilty of mistreating people on the grounds of sexual orientation, race, gender, and any manner of sins. There are other parts of the body of Christ who have stood for reconciliation between God and man and shown the love of Christ to all regardless of race, colour, gender or sexual orientation. Christ declared that he builds the church and it is clear that we as believers are to be part of it. (Matt 16:18)
The issue for Rice is that she has chosen a picture of Christ to believe in that is not the Jesus of the Bible. Christ died for the sake of homosexuals and abortionists and for religious, legalistic, arrogant fools. In seeking to protest against the discrimination of one group she has chosen to discriminate against the other and ultimately doomed both by denying the true Christ.
Let us pray she realises her mistake.