People could disagree about things, even major ideals, and still be friends. They could work together on solutions to big problems even if they didn't see eye-to-eye.
Well, those days are long gone. From politics to porches, diners to dinner tables, people have stopped listening to one another. The discord in our society has reached a fever pitch. We have political gridlock. And I know numerous people who have broken friendships and even family relationships because they disagree about the "hot-button" topics.
What is going on? Is it tribalism? The media shaping societal expectations and setting us against one another? The epidemic of fear that breeds contempt toward "the other"? Perhaps it is all this and more.
But I'm convinced that we can and will find a better way to talk to one another and work through our differences.
As Presbyterians, we have as one of our Historic Principles of Church Order (i.e., governance) the understanding that "there are truths and forms with respect to which men of good characters and principles may differ. And in all these we think it the duty both of private Christians and societies to exercise mutual forbearance toward each other." (Book of Order, F-3.0105). Scripture tells us "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Colossians 3:12-14).
This is how we are called to converse and behave as Christians. But we see very little of this reflected in the words and actions of many who identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ and specifically as Presbyterians.
Here are some blogs and articles that may help set up our civilized discussion this Thursday at Untapped Questions:
"The 'Other Side' is Not Dumb" - Blog post from Sean Blanda
"Humble Connections: Staying In Challenging Relationships" - feature article in the Christian Century
Happy reading, and I'll see you soon!