Wilderness: The ongoing grief of disagreement

Posted by Victoria Mason on March 14, 2023

Lent Series

by Rev Megan Powell du Toit

In this guest blog, Rev Megan Powell du Toit reflects on the cost involved in building and sustaining friendships when disagreements can’t be resolvedand on where she finds the hope to keep going.

One of the reasons many of us find disagreement difficult is that some issues really matter to us. And they often should matter.

For me, as an ordained female minister, positions on gender roles aren’t abstract. They are highly personal. I’ve had people accuse me of being power-hungry. I’ve had others tell me I’m ‘in sin’. Therefore it isn’t just that we disagree but that for some, what to me is faithful service is instead unfaithful ambition. It speaks of my integrity as a person, and the authenticity of my life of discipleship.

More than that, though, as a female pastor I have been the recipient of many stories of trauma. Women tell me how theologies which do not champion their full worth and equality have been used to harm them.

There are many theological and ethical positions I hold which matter to me. But I am called to this one. It is my burden.

The podcast and project with Michael have brought me into relationship not only with him but with many others whom I disagree with about gender roles. You might think this becomes easier with time. It does not. Indeed, the more I care for the person, the more this disagreement causes me grief. Now, it is no longer people out there who disagree with me. Instead, it is people I love and respect.

I haven’t reached some point of peace about this disagreement. Rather, I continue to weep when I come up against it. I hope for change, and am dejected when change is slow or absent.

It would be so easy to walk away from this grief. I would not need to do so with animosity. I could just stop reaching out. Stop developing friendships. Does God really expect me to carry this burden?

And yet, as I turn my eyes to Jesus in this time of Lent, I am reminded that God has consistently and persistently chosen to suffer this grief, again and again. For it is the cost of love and the companion of hope. My faith calls me to what seems unreasonable hope. Or is it unreasonable?

After all, as Paul puts it in Romans 5:5, ‘hope does not put us to shame’ (NRSVUE). And so, here I am again, choosing hope, and looking forward to the age to come in which we will ‘know fully’ (1 Cor 13:12) and will rejoice together in eternal friendship.

Click here to read the companion piece by Rev Dr Michael Jensen, with whom Megan leads the With All Due Respect project.

Rev Megan Powell du Toit is Publishing Manager at the Australian College of Theology. She has worked as a pastor and academic, and her research area is evangelicalism. She leads the With All Due Respect project with Rev Dr Michael Jensen.

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