When People Disagree. . .

| Weekly Word

A member of our church sent me a message this week, saying,  “Another super pressing morality debate is upon us!  This is, what, like #258 in the past five years?” They were, of course, referring to the news of the leaked Supreme Court opinion regarding the possible overturning of the Roe vs. Wade decision on abortion.  When I wrote back, I said, ruefully, “I’m sure that anything I can add to the discussion of Roe vs. Wade will settle things completely!”  Of course, I was only joking.  Nothing I say will settle things once and for all on an issue as deeply divisive and complex as abortion.

One of the most interesting discussions I ever had on abortion took place with a friend on a long car ride.  They were firmly in the anti-abortion camp.  I did not necessarily share their views.  Is abortion as cut-and-dry an issue as some claim it to be or is it filled with all of the complexities of biology, morality, wholeness, well-being, and bodily autonomy?  My friend and I talked and talked about these issues.  At the end of the long car ride, nothing was resolved in terms of “solving” the problem, but we did walk away with some mutual respect and greater understanding for one another and our views.  I was impressed by their passion and their resolve and I’d like to think that they acknowledged just how complex the issue of abortion can be for so many people.  

Again, nothing was settled, completely, but we tried to understand one another in a civil way.  We started and ended as friends and fellow pilgrims on the journey toward understanding and loving our neighbors.  Perhaps this is really what is needed in these days.  The Presbyterian Book of Order calls this “mutual forbearance.”  I call it, just plain "trying to get along."

I want to have more conversations like this - even though they are difficult - because I believe that this is one of the tasks of the church.  We are called to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) and we read about it in the Confession of 1967 and the Belhar Confession of Faith in our Book of Confessions as Presbyterians.  To this end, I will be participating in a group called “New Hampshire Listens,” which is a project of the University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy.  I hope to gain some practical skills in facilitating conversations between people who differ and I would love for you to join me in this effort!  Let me know if you’re interested!  

I am grateful for the varied perspectives of the members of our church family! Here’s to deeper understanding and greater love. . .

Grace and Peace,
John


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