The Dangers of Giving In To Disagreement Fatigue
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give
you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle
and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.
One thing we can all agree on--2020 was filled with disagreements about so many things: Covid, masks, lock-downs, whether churches should open or stay closed, racial injustice, whether Christians should be social justice warriors or even get involved with politics, and last, but not least, the election. 2020 was a year like no other, and many people, Christians included, are tired. My sister-in-law got off Facebook because of disagreement fatigue.
Natasha Crain wrote a blog post on the subject, and what she has to say is so true. She writes:
Fatigue has led many Christians to avoid any kind of disagreement. After a year like 2020, that perhaps sounds like a good idea to some. But disagreement is not inherently a bad thing. From a Christian perspective, we can certainly disagree in bad ways (with wrong motivation, hurtful words, etc.), but disagreement is often both good and important. We can’t be salt and light to a decaying and dark world when we’re continually afraid we’ll offend someone by merely expressing something that is at odds with their view. I’m concerned that the disagreement fatigue of 2020 will shape how Christians interact with each other and with secular culture for a long time to come.
Natasha goes on to cover five things she expects to see in the coming months, if not longer, because of disagreement fatigue. I will give a summary, but I would highly recommend reading her blog post too.
"More Christians will be hesitant to speak publically about their faith." Speaking publically about your faith isn't easy. I remember working with a couple of bold Christians, but most of us were not so brave. Natasha rightly points out that there were already too few Christians before 2020 willing to speak publically about their faith, and now with "woke" America labeling Christianity as oppressive, we can expect it to get worse.
"Many Christians will be misled by the appeal of a seemingly harmonious progressive Christianity." I was recently introduced to progressive Christianity through Alisa Childers' podcast. I was astonished at how widespread it is. We can no longer assume that someone who says they are a Christian is just like us. Natasha writes, "In progressive Christianity, there is typically a lowered view of the Bible, essential Christian doctrines are open for reinterpretation, historic terms are redefined, and the heart of the gospel shifts from sin and redemption to social justice." Progressive Christianity can be more inviting for those who are tired of the chaos and not interested in having disagreements about faith.
"Christians will increasingly see apologetics as a contributor to (unhealthy) disagreement." I took an Apologetics class in Bible college and remember thinking, 'Who would be interested in this stuff?' But now, I can't get enough of it! Many Christians don't know what apologetics is, and those who do are suspicious of it. They view apologetics as something that leads to division, not as what it is: a reasonable defense of the Christian faith as defined by the Bible. Apologetics is needed more today than ever.
"Belief in a generic God will continue to be acceptable in culture, but belief in Jesus as God will become increasingly gauche." I had to look up the word gauche, and for those of you who don't know what it means either, gauche can be defined as awkward, clumsy, tactless. I thought maybe it meant "unpopular" because that would be true as well. Natasha writes, "Secular culture can readily accommodate a generic god who requires nothing, but not a specific one who requires everything."
"Tired Christian parents will underestimate culture's pull on their children." I remember being a tired parent when my husband and I were raising our kids, and that was long before 2020. I can't imagine what it must have been like this past year. But Natasha, who is still raising her children, can, and she says, "Parents may be tired right now, but we can’t let that fatigue make us weary of fighting for our kids. They need our guidance on how to disagree well with the world around them from a biblical perspective."
I will leave you with three verses as reminders that now is not the time for us to give up:
Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Ephesians 6:13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Natasha Crain: Disagreement Fatigue and 2020: How the Events of the Year Will Shape Christian Interactions in 2021 and Beyond
*quotes in bold print (1-5) are taken from Natasha Crain's blog post.