The other day I had an experience that has become all too familiar. I was listening to an interview with one of my favorite recording artists when I found out that she is a fan of a theologian with whom I have some pretty major disagreements. My reaction? “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” And “WHYYYYYY?”
I’m not saying it’s wrong to feel sad that someone who you thought you agreed with isn’t quite as on point with you as you thought. It’s always nice to feel like we have allies. But one thing I’ve discovered is that part of my disappointment isn’t just from that fact; it’s from my sadness that I’ll actually have to be discerning now when I listen or read what these “heroes” of mine have to say.
I so badly just want there to be people who I can trust implicitly and not be forced to have my critical thinking cap on when they speak. Because let’s be honest, it can be exhausting to always be aware. Sometimes we just want a mental safe haven. I want there to be people who are always solid, always biblical, always on-point. This is also somehow connected with my perfectionism and performance-based view of life. I’m so good at following rules, guys. If I can just find people who will always tell me the right thing to do, I’m all set. It frees me from the hard work of having to discern and make hard choices when things aren’t clear, from the gray areas of life.
But guess what? That’s not only impossible, but that kind of attitude is dangerous. That kind of attitude is probably how we ended up with Donald Trump as a presidential front-runner.
And we can’t even approach the Bible that way, not because it’s not true, but because you’re not supposed to read the Bible as if everything in it dictates how things are supposed to be. In sermons, our pastors often talk about how narrative passages are descriptive, not prescriptive. For example, just because Nehemiah once tore someone’s hair out in his anger does not mean that the Bible recommends it as an anger-management strategy. And not only that, but because we ourselves are not perfect people and we all suffer from faulty thinking in one way or another, our own interpretation of the Bible will not always be 100% accurate, either.
Before you judge me too harshly for not wanting to think, you should also know that one of my struggles is black-and-white thinking. Unless I check myself, everything can easily become all-or-nothing for me. So I think at least part of my despair was this sense that if there’s something majorly wrong with someone’s beliefs, then I’ll have to reject them entirely. No, I just have to reject the bad parts. That’s it. If I still get other good things from them, that’s great. I’ll just have to use my--you guessed it--critical thinking skills to discern the difference.
So it’s good for me to be reminded that people I admire aren’t perfect. It doesn’t mean that I can’t be sad about some choices that they make, but I’ll still try to take whatever good I can.