It’s either black or white
yes or no
democrat or republican
good or bad
Or not. Consider the future, for example:
Will technology contribute to the deterioration of spiritual values or promote revival?
Will people grow in faith or become more cynical?
Will the web make the world more homogeneous, or more diverse?
Will the world become brighter or darker?
Will wisdom increase or will angst prevail?
Will power concentrate in new institutions or become fragmented?
The problem is not the issues addressed by each question, per se, it’s the binary (“bi” meaning “two” as in bicycle) way in which they are expressed. Maybe you’ll find elements of both in the answer. Maybe the complexity of the future requires greater nuance in our analytical tools, beginning with our questions.
People were forever asking Jesus questions like, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”* And he tied them in knots by showing the complexity of spiritual reality. It’s a good model to learn from. It’s always been about worshiping at the tree of life not the binary tree of right and wrong.
We live in an increasingly binary world. Computers run on binary code and are built by people who understand how to write it. We’ve all got our issues, but folks who are highly structured, engineers for example, seem to fall into the binary trap more than others. I know of a few engineers who inadvertently destroyed their marriages with this kind of thinking. They allowed their personality type and preferences to preclude the possibility of learning to live a life of grace. And they are poorer for it; bless their hearts.
There’s a tribe forming that’s based on grace. If you have a problem with judging other people, with placing them in categories, you may struggle with us.
Whole denominations are built around binary thinking. Theologians
call it legalism. Young people have seen its bankruptcy and are fleeing
it in droves. And the good news is, that’s one thing that Jesus came set
us free from.
My counsel for living a free life: think twice about answering next time you hear:
“Who do you agree with, them or us?”
“Do you like her more than me?”
“Are you for him or for her?”
I don’t know about you, but I’m boycotting binary questions. I suggest you join me and make today a binary-free day. Let’s walk in the mystery of “I don’t know,” just for one day.