Disagreement ≠ Hate
We have entered a scary new world. It’s a world where there are no absolutes. We define what’s true. If something makes us uncomfortable or requires us to change, well it must not be true. So instead of adapting to absolutes that have existed for all of time, we adapt the absolutes to meet our ideas. This is the world we live in. We are the decision makers. No one can tell us how to think or what to believe. We will decide for ourselves, thank you very much.
This, however, has caused a great dilemma. Because of this shift, truth has become something that is central to our being (as if absolute truth is not). We have created this truth. Because we are the creators of our own truth, disagreement becomes a bit more personal.
Dissenters aren’t just disagreeing with a philosophy, they are disagreeing with me. And they aren’t simply disagreeing with me, they are disagreeing with the core of who I am – the thing I have wrapped my identity up in – the center of my life.
So, when I create my own truth and someone disagrees with me, I am inclined to interpret their disagreement as hatred. “If you don’t agree with my truth, that must mean you dislike me as a person because I created that truth.”
How do we proceed in a world where everyone has their own truth?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. It’s tricky. It’s even dangerous. We are seeing that played out before our eyes these days. Whether it’s the murdering of law enforcement officials, the murdering of people of a different race than our own, the slaughter of Christians in the middle east or the derogation of Christians who have beliefs that counter the culture around us, it feels dangerous to support truth.
But, this is not a new problem. This is the problem that was born in the garden of eden. When the serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit, he established the dilemma:
“‘God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.'” (Gen 3: 5)
It would seem, that prior to this instance the only truth that Adam and Eve could see was God’s truth. I’m not entirely sure what they saw. I know they walked with God in the garden – and to do that they had to be righteous and holy.
One thing is clear, it is becoming much more difficult to separate a person’s beliefs from their being. When someone’s identity is wrapped up in their created “truth” it feels like hatred if we disagree with them. (By the way, I have been contrasting the absolute truth created by God with “truth” created by man. By definition, there can only be one truth. If truth is what is, there can only be one. This is either a tree or not a tree, it cannot be both a tree and a fish at the same time.)
But, let us go back to the garden. Prior to eating the fruit, Adam and Eve’s identity was wrapped in up whose image they were created in. They were both made in God’s image. After eating the fruit, they sought to hide that image. They knew they were naked and felt ashamed to be that way. So they covered themselves.
Truth, in its unaltered state is freeing. It sets us free from the shame that we are covered in by the nature of our sinful state.
So, may I ask, are you free? Has the truth set you free? Freed people free people. So, if we’re free, our response to those who aren’t free should be one of compassion and hope that there is freedom they can find if they will believe the truth.
If your “truth” is causing you to hate, then that should be a pretty clear sign that you have not yet found the truth. If you interpret opposing ideas as hatred towards you, that’s another sign that you are clinging to the lie instead of the truth.
If you believe me to be wrong, that the truth I cling to is wrong and your reaction to me because of my belief is hatred, then I urge you to take a deeper look. Because my truth drives me to love you unconditionally.
A word of clarification, while my truth drives me to love you unconditionally, it does not require me to agree with you unconditionally. In fact, I cannot agree with a lie. And it is love the drives us to stand up for the truth and to try to persuade you to believe it. If I didn’t love you, I would let you go on believing what you believe without saying anything. I wouldn’t care that you’re destined for destruction. But the love of Christ compels me to show you the truth so that you may be set free.
But, I would urge you to understand that we who disagree with what you believe do not hate you. Our disagreement is actually love. We want you to be set free.
Disagreement does not equal hatred. In fact, disagreeing with you could quite possibly be the most loving thing I do.
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32
PS – It would probably be a good idea to read the rest of John 8…
I should also add this: you may not agree with me, and I may not agree with you. That does not mean we have to hate one another. Somewhere along the way, we stopped being able to have civil disagreement. We can disagree on almost any topic without it driving us to act out in aggression towards those who disagree with us. The fact that I disagree with you does not drive me to want to destroy you or the world you live in. The fact that you disagree with me should not drive you to destroy me, to want to harm me or to write me off as a human being.
We can disagree without hating one another. In fact, I think that’s the way we can make the world a better place.
If you’re only surrounded by people who agree with you, then you never have the chance to sharpen your thoughts and ideas about what you believe. If I only have people around me who think the same way I do, I never get challenged to think about what I believe. It is through civil & respectful disagreement that we actually have the opportunity to understand the world better. And the better we understand the world (not just one side of it), the more likely we will be to be able to solve its problems.
And wouldn’t that be better anyway? Wouldn’t it be better to solve the problems that divide us instead of merely yelling at the people who don’t think like we do?