I’ve been reading a lot about dialogue lately. I actually read all the way through Justin Lee’s blog chronologically yesterday. It got me thinking about what happens when someone changes their mind about a controversial issue (as I’ve been doing recently) or about what happens when two people meet who disagree on a number of points. It made me remember ways that I’ve responded to differences that I’m not proud to look back on.
I wrote this letter because it’s how I want to move forward in my own life and how I would like to see the Church move forward as a whole. It started out as a letter from a parent to a child, but I realized that these relationships are not limited to blood connections. Those who “come out” (as GLBT, as liberals, as feminists, as conservatives, as Christians, as Muslims, as Buddhists, as different) face reactions of anger and betrayal from many different directions, and they can all be quite devastating.
We seem to be disagreeing a lot lately, don’t we? It seems to make you sad. It makes me sad, too. These are issues that I really care about, some of them because I believe that they carry a great deal of moral weight and others because they affect my own life. I know that you see them the same way, as morally and practically important, even if we do take opposite positions.
You also seem angry, though, that I disagree with you. You seem to take my opinions, my beliefs, as an affront to our friendship. You seem angry that I could betray you by turning away from the things you believe in. You seem angry that I would transgress the values you hold so dear.
Friend, we are two completely different people, and it’s only natural that our experiences and explorations would have led us to have some differences. I have seen and done things that you will never do, not because I am better than you but because we are different people living different lives. I was never going to see the world entirely through your eyes.
I am entitled to my opinions. You don’t have to agree with them, but I wish you would respect my right to hold them.
Mostly, though, I wish that our entire relationship didn’t seem to revolve around these issues. Do you really love our disagreements more than you love me? Why can’t we talk about how that new guy at your job is doing and what color I’m going to paint the bathroom? Why can’t we spend time together and just catch up instead of turning to political debate and sermonizing? Is it really necessary to leave informational pamphlets in the bathroom every time I come over? Is it really necessary to email me all those articles?
I don’t want our differences to define us. I want love to be the center of our relationship.
I hope we can hang out again soon.