Sometimes I write posts when I’m all riled up. And as my fingers dance across my keyboard and I take deep breaths, trying to remind myself that I also can tend to be a proud know-it-all, I feel some sense of relief knowing that someone somewhere might read, might listen to what’s so heavy on my heart…and maybe, possibly they will even understand, even just a little bit. Isn’t this what we all desire?
I’m not too riled up today, but I’m going to share what I’ve come to realize was a part of my life, how I used to think and process. The things that tend to set me off these days. The things that have given me more of a questioning (and I think beautiful) spirit. Things that sometimes make me want to run away from everything that I’ve known or done. But things that I believe will free me from what is not real, so that I can move further into what is. Free me of dogma and crumble my weak systems, so that my hope need not rest in the created binaries of man, western culture, society, religion, whatever. These black and white, either/or systems of belief subtly used to manipulate and control.
And I believe these things can (and do) have long-term, painful, psychological and emotional impact on people. They did on me. I think that is why I care so much. And in the “Christian world” and in Christian circles, these things are pretty normal, which is frightening. The underlying implications aren’t easily understood by many. Perhaps this is even how you think and operate…I used to, at least to some degree. If so, I just ask you to consider some of these thoughts. And there is always grace.
Perhaps you’ve heard the following:
“You’re not arguing/disagreeing with me…but with the Bible/God.”
“From a Biblical perspective…la la la..” or “Biblically speaking…da da da..” (or “Biblical manhood/womanhood,” “Biblical marriage,” “Biblical ministry,” “Biblical sexuality, Biblical this and that..”…)
“We just preach the Bible.”
“I just take the Bible literally.”
Can you see what happens when these kinds of words are spoken? (and good heavens not just spoken, but believed as absolute truth) Do you sense the underlying implications? In most cases, the conversation will be over. In fact, it really wasn’t much of a dialogue to begin with. Any opportunity for dialogue has been shut down. If my disagreement is against God, there’s not much more to be said, is there? If your perspective on marriage, ministry, sexuality, and life is THE Biblical one, well woe to my perspective if it doesn’t line up, right? What more can be said? If you already know then you’ve no reason to listen to or consider my thoughts, right? If you preach the Bible and I don’t preach what you preach, then my thoughts are invaluable to you.
Think about the spirit behind these messages. Do you sense a spirit of love or of fear, of compassion or control, humility or pride, peace or hostility, gentleness or harshness, openness or closed-mindedness?
But here is the thing. I’m not disagreeing with the Bible. I’m disagreeing with your interpretation of it. I’m saying that currently, my interpretation does not line up with yours. That I’m trying my best to read and understand the Bible, and right now, we don’t come up with the same conclusion. And what you are claiming to be THE Biblical perspective on every issue, is actually your Biblical interpretation and understanding of these issues. And when you say you are just straight up preaching the Bible, what you’re really saying is that you are straight up preaching your interpretation of the Bible.
Because it seems to me that no one person has a corner on THE truth or perfect understanding. And this may push you too far, but honestly….it seems that in the end, nobody knows for sure. How can we as humans really speak in certainties? I mean truthfully, can we? I’m not saying certainties do not exist. I’m not railing against some form of absolute truth. But can we, with integrity, make a claim to knowing it, or is there always an element of faith? If you think so, please help me to understand why you do…I’m genuinely asking…
I wonder how things might be different in our world if we could get off our self-created thrones and realize that in the end, all we’ve got are our interpretations, our understandings, and things we’ve put faith in. If we could approach our own perspectives and understandings with humility, holding them loosely, as well as the perspectives of others… wow.
I wonder how relationships, communities, and the world might transform. Really. I imagine beauty…
…I imagine people seeing people rather than labels (liberal, conservative, progressive, traditional, homosexual, heterosexual, calvinist, egalitarian, pro-life, pro-choice, welfare system, disabled, rich, poor, immigrant, white, black, believer, nonbeliever, democrat, feminist, bread-winner, republican…)
…I imagine people seeking to understand one another, rather than change or correct. I imagine people believing the best in one another. Realizing how small and vulnerable we really are…all of us. But how much we need one another. And realizing how out-of-control we really are. And then I imagine us letting go of all of these ways we try to gain false control, because in the end, we’re just isolating ourselves from others. From real relationship. I might even imagine having community with those whom I’m in stark disagreement with. Community serving one another, serving others together, meeting each others needs, eating together, asking questions, and maybe even seeking truth and meaning and understanding and purity together. At least it’s neat to imagine.