A friend told me he left his church because the pastor finally said something he did not agree with.
I asked him what it was. Something about feminism. He couldn’t remember too well.
I asked him, “So that’s it then?”
He said, “Of course. I mean now I know who this pastor really is.”
There could’ve been a legitimate reason here, but even if not: I understand, because the second I can drop someone, I usually do. It’s this sick part of me that can’t stand it when someone else thinks differently than I do.
More than ever, we’re an easily offended culture. We are vocal paper tigers. The blogosphere has exposed us as absurdly critical creatures, each of us with an impetuously loud voice that makes up for our real personalities. The shyest kitten becomes a German shepherd on a blog. I know this because I’m like this. We know it shouldn’t be this way: but we are just so bad at disagreeing, it’s nearly an artform.
The thing is: I will eventually say something you do not find pleasant. You will resist it completely. Forget that it’s right or wrong or worth hearing or not — you will push back, never read here again, and judge the rest of my character based on this point of contention. “How could I have liked this guy? How could I have been so blind?” And so on.
Others have done this to you with great aplomb. If you missed even one tiny angle, they forever swore off your opinions, your writing, and your values. You’ve been accused of deeply entrenched character flaws. If you’re not 100% for a side, you must be 100% against it.
I really want to believe we are a more thoughtful generation that knows how to slow down and remember that bloggers are also human beings. Your pastors and leaders do not merely live in subterranean lairs trying to find ways to frustrate you. They also go grocery shopping, use the bathroom, raise children, and watch the game on a Sunday night in their boxers. If you have to disagree with them, you don’t have to desecrate their dignity.
I don’t believe that a difference of negotiable opinions suddenly means this person has failed you or fallen or gone off the deep end.
Maybe these moments of disagreement can be an opportunity to extend grace and reach for what our mind hasn’t considered. God does not contain His imagination within a handful of select people, and sometimes He will work through the sharp contrast of something you never heard before to open up your old walls. It’s threatening, and it’s not always right — but let a new idea break through the familiar, and you may become free simply by the humility of embracing the other.