I think its time that various Bloggernacle tactics that I’ve seen used get called out and made public in hopes that such tactics will ceased to be used and be replaced with a more rational discussion.
Today’s tactic is to use the scripture about the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to find the 1 lost sheep as a means of demanding change. The following statement I overheard online (I wish I could take credit!) explains this tactic very well:
Like most of the Savior’s injunctions, that was meant to be advice for the shepherd, not a lever for the straying sheep to demand change. Whenever someone tells you that you should not judge their behavior, that you should forgive them without their repentance, that you should leave the 99 to come after them, or that you should turn the other cheek to them, they are weaponizing and perverting the gospel.
Anyhow, the advice for the shepherd was that he bring the straying sheep back to the 99. The ones not playing their role in this parable are the… folks who flee the shepherds and refuse to be brought back.
I think the key point here is that this scripture is about taking people out of step with God’s teachings and is not about changing God’s teachings to accommodate them but changing them to accommodate God’s teachings.
I realize that sometimes people who use this tactic often completely disagree with the teachings of the Church over what “God’s teachings” (however they define ‘God’ literally or non-literally) are in the first place. I’ve seen John Dehlin and Richard Dutcher use this tactic specifically because they think the LDS Church teachings are at odds with God’s will. Perhaps more subtly this tactic is employed in BCC’s current “Our Sisters are Leaving” post where it is also being used to claim that certain actions on the part of the Brethren are at odds with God’s will.
But if the disagreement is over what God’s teachings really are, why use this tactic at all since it then clearly doesn’t apply to the situation? We’re not then talking about some shepherd bring a lost sheep to the fold, we’re talking about a non-lost sheep bring a lost shepherd and his 99 lost sheep to the fold. In any case, it seems to me that either way this tactic is an abuse of the scripture and is more of an emotional appeal to avoid dialogue. I believe that this tactic should be discontinued.