Monday, August 23, 2010

Egalitarianism: A practical concept for church?

I think there are few who would contest that equality is important in church. It is a matter of principle personally that I treat everyone the same regardless of their background and status. I even hold to the same principle in teaching, educating youths in an adult manner. There are few things that I would say to an adult that I won't also share frankly with a youth.

Such a noble concept is tested in a recent event. One of our beloved elder has passed away, and our church is tasked with the wake and funeral services. However, we have greatly simplify our services over the years because of the large number of deaths that we, a greying congregation, have.

So, on one hand, we want to uphold the principle that all should be treated as equals. An elder's wake and funeral should be no different from that of a normal church member. Why the favoritism? We should set an example to the people that this is what church should be.

On the other hand, there are those who argue that an elder's wake and funeral should be more grand and stately, as befits the years of sacrifice and service. The church should show our appreciation and gratitude especially in times like this. Why the depersonalization?

I unfortunately stand with the latter. While I do wish to believe in true equality, the church is after all a human environment. I believe that as a human, we are bound to our emotional ties and feelings. If we appear nonchalant, it is not perceived as noble, but rather uncaring. That is the likely assumption of most. I think most will forgive us for that slight bias (to do more for an elder) in times like this. So in weighing a moral outrage on one hand, and a more understanding crowd on the other hand, it is sadly the case that we must sacrifice egalitarianism over practicality.


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