I like to read. Ok yes, truthfully, most of the reading I do these days is just whatever viral post is being shared and discussed on Facebook. But light reading is better than no reading at all, right? And some of these topics are really intriguing and teach me a lot about our culture and the spiritual state of our society.
Just a few of the recent topics being hotly discussed on my Facebook newsfeed are, "Why I Chose To No Longer Wear Leggings," "Dear Church, Here's Why People Are Really Leaving You," and "We Can't Be Friends. (If you can't stand my messy house - not in the title, but it's the point)" All of these articles had valid points and I found myself nodding along in agreement as I read their passionate and well-executed arguments. But then I read... "Ten Things We Should Get Angry About Before Yoga Pants," "An Open Letter to All the People Who Are Writing (and Sharing) Open Letters About What's Wrong With the Church, and "No, You're Not More of a Real Mom Because Your House is Messy." Each offering a perspective completely opposite from the one I originally read and agreed with.
And a funny thing happened within me - something that I don't believe typically happens for many of us anymore - I saw both sides.
It got me thinking. I wonder how much of our belief system is basically just a collection of information that we happened to read or hear first.
It wouldn't be that far-fetched of an idea - the Bible even speaks that this is likely to happen.
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. -Proverbs 18:17
I've seen this happen on so many occasions. Especially since entering into the motherhood stage of life and all the "mommy-wars" that come along with it.
Whether it's discussing the benefits of a natural vs medicated labor, formula vs breastfed baby, working vs stay-at-home mom, cry-it-out vs attachment parenting. To vaccinate or not? Disposable or cloth diapers? Time-out or spankings? My stomach is churning at the thought of getting into a discussion with a mommy friend who is passionate one way or the other on any of these topics.
Because you know what? Outside of Jesus being the Son of God, all scripture being infallible and eating cake on my birthday - there are very few things that are non-negotiable for me. Sure there are things that I hold strong opinions on. And I believe in the value of doing research to make a wise decision. But at the end of the day, sometimes the argument is so right down the middle - that it would probably do more good to "flip a coin" than risk losing a relationship because of a strong opinion.
Flipping a coin can end arguments; it settles disputes between powerful opponents. An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. - Proverbs 18:18-19
Hear me when I say - I believe in healthy discussion. I encourage healthy discussion. In fact, I've been known to even instigate healthy discussion a time or two. But always making sure to keep the relationship at the forefront of my mind. And remembering that at the end of the day, two people can see from two completely different perspectives and both can be right. Not talking theologically here. Just talking good, ole-fashioned opinions.
So where do we draw the line between advocating and arguing? I think it should stop before someone gets hurt.
It's okay to say, "I had an amazing experience with my in-home water birth!" but it probably wouldn't be wise to say, "If you get an epidural you are weak and unnatural!" One advocates, the other is just asking for an argument.
Of course, you are free to disagree with me. This whole post, after-all, is just observations from my recent experiences with reading contradictory post after post. That's why incorporating Scripture into my writing has become so crucial for me. I want to be more passionate about God's word, than I am about a fad that is here today and gone tomorrow.
What amazes and breaks my heart is that while we are arguing for people to believe the same way we do about leggings (or birth plans or so on and so on), we may inadvertently be wounding others and turning them away from the greatest cause we could ever be advocates for - Jesus Christ.