by Dr. Bruce Campbell Moyer, July 19, 2015:    David Brooks has written, for the New York Times, “Social conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society. They already subscribe to a faith built on selfless love. They can serve as examples of commitment. They are equipped with a vocabulary to distinguish right from wrong, what dignifies and what demeans. They already, but in private, tithe to the poor and nurture the lonely.

“The defining face of social conservatism could be this: Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.

“This culture war is more Albert Schweitzer and Dorothy Day than Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham; more Salvation Army than Moral Majority. It’s doing purposefully in public what social conservatives already do in private.” (New York Times, 29 June 2015)

Talk has been cheapened by overexpenditure. It is action that makes our faith real. We are in for a lot of talk in the near future, especially on same-sex marriage, now legalized in the United States by the Supreme Court.

While I may not choose to conduct such a wedding, I applaud the court’s decision. Civil marriages are “weddings” separate from the church’s blessings. They are “blessed” by the love and commitment of the couple and the participants. I have chosen not to participate in some heterosexual weddings because of personal convictions that God was neither involved in the arrangement nor was it appropriate. All people, however, deserve the gift of love, protected by the state.

This does not sanctify it. It only protects it and dignifies people. Christians must be true to their theological convictions while still being loving and supportive of others who disagree, who do not share all of their convictions. This is, I think, where grace enters the picture. It is this grace that must characterize our lives and interpersonal relations. If we fail here, we have little to offer except more rules.

Dr. Bruce Campbell Moyer is an ordained Adventist minister and retired faculty member in the seminary at Andrews University. He has served as an urban pastor, a staff member at the Institute of World Mission, director of the Adventist Center for Global Urban Mission and coordinator of worldwide HIV-AIDS programs for the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA).