We are blessed with the freedom of speech in the United States, but sometimes that blessing can be a curse.
Politicians lie to our faces constantly, manipulating the truth for political gain, while their followers carry on the lies in blind allegiance to a party’s ideology caring little about the very real damage their rhetoric can inflict.
Preachers spew hateful rhetoric in the name of Jesus as their followers turn a blind eye, or worse defend it, because there’s that one verse in the Bible and all the while the pain of others is dismissed in the name of orthodoxy.
Tragically, the lies, manipulation, and hate speech haven’t just become acceptable; they’re expected and cause less and less outrage the more they’re repeated.
But for all the freedom we give preachers and politicians to say whatever they want to say however they want to say it, there are three words that are still forbidden in the church, in Washington, and everywhere in between.
“I was wrong.”
They’re simple words, but words most of us find all but impossible to say.
Admitting we’re wrong exposes our imperfection and in a culture that worships perfection and treats arrogance and narcissism are virtues, there is no greater sin than finding the humility to admit one’s flaws. Our brokenness simply doesn’t have a place in a world of chiseled bodies, toned abs, and perfectly constructed tweets.
And it’s painful admitting we’re wrong. Doing so requires us to give up our position of power and control, temptations we’ve craved since the Garden. Admitting our imperfect knowledge means admitting we’re not in control, that we’re not the lords of all creation our society tells us we need to be if we’re to make it in life.
But admitting we’re wrong may actually be most painful for those around us, because it turns us into a mirror in which our neighbors and enemies alike are forced to confront the very real possibility that they may not have everything figured out either.
And so, any change in a position is portrayed as weakness rather than wisdom, as weak willed failure rather than mature courage.
But this culture of intellectual stubbornness isn’t healthy.
It doesn’t allow for the growth that’s necessary not just for us to mature, but the growth society (and the church) needs to undergo in order become a better, more just, and holier place in which to live.
We learn most from our mistakes, not our success, because our mistakes force us to carefully examine what went wrong and why. But if we never admit we’re wrong, we can never learn from our mistakes and thus we can never grow
Now, this doesn’t mean we can’t be right about some things and stick to our convictions.
We can and we should, but we also need to have the wisdom, humility, and courage to consider the possibility we could be wrong about important things that have serious consequences.
In other words, the bravest, wisest, most principled thing we can do sometimes, isn’t standing up for what we believe in and refusing to compromise.
It’s admitting that we believe in might be wrong.
Grace and peace,