Compromise Is Good for Your Beliefs

Last week, I wrote a blog called "I Can Never Be a Feminist," and I was dead wrong. I am a feminist and I need to be. Not just because I need to be a part of something bigger than myself, but because I believe people are too awful and stupid to do what's right on their own. That's when I realized this wasn't just about feminism. I have to accept that I can't keep calling myself a moderate when I'm really a liberal.

This is a reluctant realization because I don't want to be a liberal. Most liberals I know are just as hypocritical and inconsistent as the conservatives I know. But as an arrogant, idealistic moderate, I've spent more time thinking about what I wanted to support than actually doing anything about it. Too much thinking only leads to the discovery of paradoxes and ethical quandaries--sometimes there isn't a right answer, there's only the best answer. And sometimes we have to support things we don't necessarily believe in.

That's not heresy; that's life. On Sunday morning (or Saturday evening or once-a-whatever-you-do), do you agree with absolutely everything your church does? That includes every nuance of doctrine, every ministry application, every leadership decision down to the choice between hymnal or projector. Or do you accept some things with grace for the sake of being a functioning, non-divisive member of the body of Christ?

Compromise is the main reason why I've chosen to swing left and not right. Growing up in a conservative context, I was taught that compromise was never an option for the Christian and any concession was a sign of weak faith. But my time as a moderate has taught me something different.

I've met the God who both discourages divorce and wrote laws for divorce. I've met the God who emancipated Onesimus after telling the Israelites how to take slaves. I've met the God who commanded one generation to commit genocide and then taught another to turn the other cheek.

I'm not enough of a liberal to call these contradictions, but I do think they illustrate a God who makes concessions from time to time. Just look at our savior: Jesus is a living concession. By clothing himself with humanity, he condescended to our level. He didn't expect us to come to know him as he truly is; he compromised for our sake.

Without compromise, we're forced to make everything a priority. And if everything is a priority then nothing is. My priorities are making Jesus known and keeping people alive long enough to learn about him. That's why I'm a liberal. Not because I support everything that they believe; I'm a liberal because the ideology as a whole best represents what I believe.

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