I had a conversation yesterday with a friend. He was concerned about divisions in the Church. I tend not to think in terms of “divisions”, preferring to frame the issue in terms of holding in dynamic tension diverse practices and theologies within the Church. The Church has always done this, sometimes more successfully than others. Holding in dynamic tension, to me, means allowing the anxieties of difference to remain a source of bonding rather than of separation.
Perhaps that is a bit counter-intuitive at first glance. Perhaps it is with deeper thought. But to me, there is something real about the tension of difference being a bonding force, rather than a divisive force, in the community of the faithful.
We need each other if we are to be a living community. We will die if we don’t recognize our mutual dependency. Because of this, we need to support each other, yes, even those who are different than us.
Easier said than done.
All of this is built, though, upon Truth. And obedience to Truth. Our freedom to grow as Church rests upon freedom for the Truth, not freedom from the Truth. We are community, not just individuals. We wilt and wither away when we become autonomous. We are alive in the Truth, who is Jesus Christ. Our faith, our lives, are relational. They are a relationship with the Truth. Obedience to the Truth comes from listening.
On a practical level, this requires obedience to our local bishop, and the universal teaching of the Church. Many have a hard time with that, both those on the “left” and those on the “right”.
Unity, even with tension, brings freedom. Division and separation, to bring an end to tension, brings slavery. Obedience to authority gives us the blueprint for Truth for which we long.