Then there are some issues about which I have chosen a position, but I understand why others might disagree with my position. I sometimes still vehemently disagree, but I get how they could land where they've landed. Personally, the issues of baptism and sexual equality fall into this category. I have solid opinions about the baptism of infants and the full equality of women in the Church, but I understand when you disagree with me. Often, these issues are ones that are scripturally less than clear, but do force a practical decision be made eventually--either you baptize infants or you don't; either you ordain women or you don't.
But tonight I want to write about a conviction that has shaped me this year in regard to a third category: issues about which I have a position and am unable to understand how someone could hold an alternate opinion. These are the issues about which I think to myself, or say to a friend, "I just don't get it. It seems so clear." It's hard to pick an example for this because I'm sure it will hurt someone, but here it goes: In my life, I feel this way about Christians who marry nonChristians. Call me old fashioned, but I just don't understand how you can build a life with someone who does not share a worldview shaped by the story of God. I know that people do, but I genuinely don't get it.
And to put it briefly, this is my new conviction: When these topics come up, I should keep my mouth shut. There are people better equipped to carry the conversations around these topics, and I should defer to them. My inability to understand alternate views is really a weakness, not a strength (as it so often feels).
Now, if I really feel compelled to speak into an issue like this, I think I should only do so after I take some time to genuinely understand how people with opposing views have arrived at them. And then I should speak carefully, humbly, and kindly, as I am still speaking from a position of weakness. And I should remember to put relationships with those who disagree with me above my need/desire to persuade them.
This might sound extreme, but for someone like me, this has been a mark of growth; I am not the type to naturally hold my tongue when I have a strong opinion. I think I have always felt that these issues demanded I speak up, because I could see so "clearly" when others could not. But I have realized that a) while it's possible I might see "clearly," I am finite and so is my vision; and b) doing so only alienates people who either disagree with me or are on the fence, while drawing closer those with whom I already agree.
So I'm writing this to share a bit of how God is working on me, and to challenge you to identify those issues about which you say, "I just don't understand." I'm not saying you need to zip it on those issues, but I am offering the possibility that it's not a bad idea. In any event, it is certainly a good idea to proceed with extra doses of humility and kindness.