Friday, May 17, 2013

Choosing Relationships Over Being Right

I don't know about you, but I love the feeling of superiority that comes with being right. The "I'm better than you because I know more" high. The feeling of being worthy.

And because of that, I can focus too much on dichotomies: picking a side and debating it, even if it really doesn't matter.

I've had to work very hard at not being obnoxiously dogmatic when stating my opinion. I'm a naturally passionate person, and when you combine that with the black-and-white thinking I was raised with, you get some serious arrogance.

Time has mellowed me. I've learned that not everything is black and white. I've learned that issues often have many, many more than two sides. And I've changed my mind about a lot of things.

For instance, I've embraced panentheism. I support gay rights. I am politically pro-choice while remaining personally pro-life. I believe women can be pastors. I believe in an egalitarian view of marriage. I am leaning toward a universalist view of salvation. I practice gentle, grace-based discipline. I believe in theistic evolution. Any of which could get me labelled a heretic at my current church. Or a liberal. (They're the same, you know.)

So, why do I attend a church that on the surface is so at odds with my personal views?

I value people and relationships over being right.

The people at my church love me. They care about me as an individual much more than my stance on issues. And I love and respect them enough to let them believe and live their convictions without trying to change them.

When someone is saying something incredibly narrow-minded (like, "A real Christian can't believe in evolution."), yes, I will speak up. I say something like, "Just because someone has read the Bible and come to a different conclusion than you doesn't make them any less Christian. If they love God and love the Bible, they are your brother or sister in Christ, even if you differ in your beliefs in this area."

I most certainly have confronted those who I believe are damaging in their dogmatism, but not to prove I am right. Frankly, I'm not certain I am right about anything, anymore! I just point out that there are people and feelings involved, and denigrating someone else's convictions because they differ from your own (whether based on your interpretation of the Bible or simply personal opinion) is inappropriate, at best. At the very least, that attitude of "I'm right and they're wrong" is not humble; it's not exemplifying the spirit of being wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Because life is not about being right. It's about how you relate to others - whether you agree with them, or not.