I am the kind of person who desires clarity because it provides things like answers and direction. It allows one to move forward with confidence and the assurance that “I am leading in the right direction.” I have been brought up to believe that it is important to know some things, for example, the difference between right and wrong.
There is a lurking danger when some in leadership claim to have divine clarity or direction. More often than not it is simply arrogance parading as morality. As I am writing this blog our nation is watching our federal leaders bring us to the brink of economic meltdown all in the name of their political “clarity.” Everyone thinks they are absolutely right and this absoluteness leads to arrogance and a complete unwillingness to compromise.
This kind of misplaced clarity also shows up in the church. From the benign – think of the worship style wars; to the sinister – consider how many in the church have treated those who are gay. All of these struggles emerge from a false position of clarity.
As much as I desire clarity, both personally and professionally, I am slowly coming to realize how dangerous and destructive certainty and clarity can be, I am thinking particularly about a kind of certainly that emerges out of a desire to control, manipulate or rule the other. The simple truth is that we live in a world which is mostly gray. And it is not easy or comfortable living in the gray.
In politics, living in the gray means valuing and working with those who do not hold to your particular position. It means owning the silliness of absolute viewpoints and assuming a position of humility that allows space to be wrong.
From a theological perspective we must own that black and white makes God small and manageable. It removes the mystery and wonder. It makes God easy to follow. It allows us to shape God into our image rather opening ourselves to the possibility of being formed in God’s image.
Living in the gray opens us to the possibility of living in the tension of not knowing. As strange as it might sound this is good and freeing.