A couple had a conversation with me about our church's stance (or lack thereof) on a variety of social, ethical and political issues. When I explained my pietistic orientation, one that focusses primarily on the interior and personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ as an historic reaction to Swedish Lutheran State Church control and American fundamentalism and its endless legalisms, they understood my quietism better.
Every election cycle I get particularly quiet and they called me on that. How can I be quiet about clear moral issues that do not just pop up every four years? What about the killing of 1.1million babies every year through abortion? Does my pietistic relationship with Jesus tell me to be quiet about that or say clearly that it's wrong? Has the issue of the sovereignty of personal choice removed both abortion and homosexual marriage from the range of issues that bear on being a disciple of Jesus Christ?
When the discussion translated into the realm of my teaching confirmation to 7th and 8th graders, I had no problem being clear and explicit with my ethics: Premarital sex? not a good idea. Pornography? bad deal. Racism? no. Bullying? not! Violent video games? bad stuff for the brain. Homosexuality? not God's planned way. On confirmation retreats the students have a time to pepper me with just those sorts of questions and I have no problem shooting back short and, I hope, accurate responses based on the Bible. But in all things, over all issues, and to all people we must reflect first and foremost the love of Jesus for us and through us.
While pietism's deep love of fellowship and preservation of the community is wonderful, sometimes we sacrifice speaking truthfully about the big issues and let us go our own ways. Maybe it's being reticent to go back to legalism. Maybe it's because we recoil from partisanship. Maybe it's because we just don't want to rock the boat. Is it time for pietism to get more muscle?