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Monday, August 08, 2016

When Worlds Collide

In the recent past I had the opportunity to observe (without participating in) a disagreement in another family over politics. The dad sent out an email telling his adult children of the evils of the present regime and the angry backlash from said offspring about how narrow-minded and misinformed Dad was. It made me wonder. What do you do when, within a family or even close friends, worlds collide?

It was curious to me because the (adult) children had learned a radically different set of values than their father held. One sibling said that they had learned something different from Mom. (Unverifiable since Mom was no longer alive.) Clearly anyone who believed what Dad believed was bigoted and gullible, the product of listening to Fox News which could not be trusted to report on the weather conditions let alone important matters. What an idiot! No, worse than that. An offensive idiot! "But we still love you, Dad." I found that ending just as curious. The responses (more than one) were harsh, incendiary, accusatory, and abusive, but they always ended with that "We still love you" kind of line.

So, what do you do when your worlds collide with others close in relationship? When your brother or sister produces a position that directly violates your own, what is your proper response? I mean, sure, it would depend on the importance of the position. I get that. "I love avocados." "What?!! You love avocados??!! Well! Never speak to me again!!" Not an appropriate response. I mean, it's just avocados, right? But when it's something important, like "I believe that Jesus was a myth and anyone who believes he was a real person is a mindless robot." What do you do with that? With the relationship?

The Bible has some things to say on the subject. Jesus, for instance, said,
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matt 5:9)
Paul urged,
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom 12:18)
It is clear that the wrong approach is anger and bitterness.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Eph 4:31)
On the other hand, we read,
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Cor 13:11)
At the core of our response, regardless of the response, there is a singular command, overarching, that must always be present.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34)
But how does this work itself out in your experience? How do you make peace, avoid bitterness, aim for restoration, and "agree with one another" when disagreements on important issues arise with close friends and relatives? Clearly the response must be based in love. But beyond that, just how does all this look?


Anonymous said...

My grandmother used to say that she and my grandfather agreed on everything, which is impossible except she said in matters where they disagreed, they agreed to disagree. Wise words. Where relationships matter, agree to disagree - especially when, "come, let us reason together, fails."

Stan said...

I've never liked "Let's agree to disagree" because it is an abandoning of the discussion, but we certainly don't need to be disagreeable when we disagree.