I typically try to stay away from legitimate belief discussions on FB, but the other day I engaged in one. And it didn't go well. It essentially went like this:
(Context: Someone put an article about pending new marriage/divorce laws that discussed the idea of making it slightly harder to get divorced and comments ensued, this is the gist)
Dude I don't know: People can get divorced if they want to, it doesn't affect anyone else.
Me: If one couple gets divorced, it's not a big deal. But when a lot of people do, it is. That affects society, it affects people.
Dude I don't know: Show me research proving that. Until I see hard evidence that that's true, that divorce affects society, I say let people do whatever they want. Who are you, the government, or anyone else to tell people what to do?
(There was other stuff, but that's the main gist. So then out of spite, I went onto JSTOR and Google scholar and found about 20 different peer reviewed articles that was the evidence he asked for, even if it was rhetorical)
Dude I don't know: I don't care about any of that, nothing will ever make me change my mind. No amount of research will, I think people can do whatever they want and no one should say otherwise.
I was almost going to tell him before finding the articles, that I was willing to bet that no amount of research would change his mind. Because almost always when people say, show me the research and then I'll change my mind, they won't. It took all my self control to refrain from calling him on it BEFORE I sent the articles, and I couldn't help myself but send the articles to him (it was out of spite, if I'm being honest, it wasn't because I really thought it would be helpful), and then it took all the more self control to call him on it AFTER that. Actually, I just took myself away from the conversation and no longer engaged. And I've started a FB fast, so just FYI...
Anyways, onto the point:
"It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong."
This is a quote I strongly believe in. This is why I have doubts in my faith, because I refuse to just willy nilly believe in something. This guy had a strong belief (that people should be able to divorce if they want to and it doesn't affect anyone else, in this case), and it is so strong that no amount of evidence can change it.
As much as I desire a rock solid faith in Jesus, I don't ever have to have the kind of belief that blinds me from truth. So when something is presented to me that doesn't seem to line up with my beliefs, I will think about it, I will wrestle with it, I will engage with it. I won't brush it off, I won't say "I don't care", I won't stick so hard to my beliefs.
I do wrestle and grapple and fight and defend and question and struggle. And I think that is good and healthy. And I think that's why I so desperately love Jesus.
What bothered me the most about what the guy said wasn't his opinions, what bothered me was that his beliefs were so entrenched with him that he said "I don't care, nothing will change my mind". That rigidity is what scares me. That rigidity is what I don't want for me. Including in regards to my beliefs in Jesus or marriage.
I remember when I was teaching a healthy relationships workshop, and the second class the topic was sex. And I told my supervisor that I was most nervous because the research supported my beliefs. That may make some people feel better, but I wanted to just present research to the folks taking my class, not instill my values upon them. I told them at the beginning I only have three beliefs I want to instill upon them and believe in:
- Know people's names
- Importance of accountability
- Importance of making this a safe place
Everything else, take what you want, leave what you want, and don't have to believe anything else I say. I had a professor one time that told us, "The point of this class, any other class, is to expose you to information. You can keep your opinions, I'm just providing you with more information." And I love that and I told my class that. (That class went really, really well, by the way.)
Have strong beliefs, have strong faith, hold tight to your values. But be willing to fruitfully engage with others, other beliefs, other faiths, other values, and other evidence.