Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Disagree!

I disagree... and that's a good thing.

Why does it feel like we always secretly hope, no matter how nice and accepting we are of other people, that they'll some day see the light and think like us? Yes, I suppose, on some selfish level, life would be easier if everyone thought exactly like me, but, really, if we're thinking about it, life would also kinda suck.

For one, there would be no one to tell us an idea is stupid until AFTER we've done it. Everyone would think it is a great idea and be really encouraging, right up until the point it goes horribly wrong, then they'd be all, "that was a terrible idea." Yeah, thanks. I got it.

We really need people to be different and think different. It's good for us. It's good for the world. We need to disagree. We need it. It's that important.

Now, of course, there are going to be some fundamental things that we'd like everyone to agree on - things like, "don't kill Ryan," that's a big one for me. Perhaps more generally, "don't kill people," but honestly, we don't really agree on that one anyway. The best we can hope is to be sincere in our desires, willing to change if our conscience leads us to do so, and respecting when others think differently.

I don't get this notion that my sincere beliefs should be those of other people. Yes, it's nice to have the validation when people do actually accept my reasons for belief and we do all need people who agree with us at some level for community and support, but why do we really expect everyone to agree?

This is especially troubling among Christians - who have (supposed) unity in Christ. It's not like we're coming from vastly different foundations when we disagree, we're essentially choosing different beliefs for the exact same reason.

I'll just call it out - my denomination responded to the Supreme Court ruling this week with a pretty well-worded conservative statement (as expected), explaining that its position has not changed and generally wishing good will towards all people. Great. But it ends with the line, "We pray that God will help us be examples of His truth in a world that needs to see God’s love demonstrated in word and deed more than ever."

This line could be construed just as it says - longing for truth - but earlier in the paragraph, truth was defined as a particular view of gay marriage. Now, I'm not expecting my denomination to change its stance over night (in fact, I think we ask the wrong questions and focus on the wrong things - as I've written about before), but it might be nice to be charitable and humble.

We're essentially saying, "We disagree and we hope God uses us to bring other people around to right thinking." I guess it's honest, if nothing else, which is good, but it's also sad.

I don't have a problem with what we believe (although I wish we'd talk about it better). I do have a problem with us assuming our convictions are definitive of a "Christian" of "faithful" position. It reeks of arrogance and it turns my stomach.

We also believe that we shouldn't drink alcohol. That's a Nazarene distinctive. We do it not because alcohol is inherently evil, but because we desire to be open to all people, even those who struggle with alcohol addiction or were hurt by its effects on their family, so we choose to forgo it as a means of supporting those people. Other Christians choose differently. We don't demonize them or use this veiled "truth" language to insinuate they're somehow wrong.

We just disagree.

As I said, I don't mind disagreement. It's a good thing. But we don't have to do it self-righteously. We also don't have to do it apologetically. Wouldn't the statement have looked better if instead of closing with a prayer that all people would be converted to our way of thinking we said something like, "We pray that God will help us be example of His truth in the world, that all people, ourselves included, would be converted to the Way of Christ, even if it means changing our long held beliefs."

That, to me, is the crux of real, healthy disagreement. I believe this, but I might be wrong. If I am, forgive me, but I can only do what I think is right. Let's keep talking and maybe one of us will change their mind, but if not, that's ok, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The BGS statement does sound arrogant. It makes it sound like it is much more important to be a Nazarane than to be Christian. Statements like "We remind our people... " don't help at all especially given the recent scandals in the Nazarene church. Maybe it isn't possible to declare oneself Holy without the sin of pride and self righteousness being attached with it. It is much better to try and live Holy than to announce to everyone about being Holy. Yes it turns one stomach. Unfortunately the attitude of self righteousness persists at the local church level also (not all local churches, hopefully just a few). It is destroying our local church.