I’ve been musing lately on the topic of “black and white thinking…” Many christians I know consider “black and white” thinking to be a great thing…. and yet in psychological terms, “black and white” thinking is a sign of something called “splitting” which is part of the overall makeup of “borderline personality disorder.”
I think when christians eagerly embrace things as being “black and white” that it is mostly a stance that is designed to buffer against the feared tendency for people to create “gray zones” of morality.
Now the irony of this, is that nowhere in the world or nature do we see so much “GRAY” as when things actually ARE in “black and white.” That is, the very thing that christians fear, moral ambiguity, may in fact be a byproduct of trying to always cast things in “black and white” terms. Case in point – have you ever seen so much variety of “gray” as you see in black and white photos or black and white television? Gray is the absolute effect of trying to view the world in black and white.
But in LIFE, we see in color. Brilliant, beautiful, color. Thus, the opposite of “black and white” thinking is not as many fear, “gray zone thinking.” No…the opposite, or actually, AUTHENTIC type of mindset that “black and white” is the counterfeit of, is FULL COLOR thinking.
In full color, sometimes you still see something is actually white, or that something is actually black. Color does not preclude the ability to actually see black where black exists and white where white truly exists. But how often do you find yourself obsessed with black and white when you are pointing out how blue the sky is today, or how beautiful that flower is over there, or how cute that chocolate labrador retriever is with his shiny brown nose and coat? Or how yucky the brown pollution is in the wave at the shore?
Life in the Lord is a cascade of colors. Black and White has its place, but it’s not so prevalent as some might wish it to be.
One last thought, from the verse below:
Ephesians 3:10 – “so that through the church the manifold [literally, “multi-colored”] wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
If we dwell in black and white, we risk falling short of our calling as the people of God!
March 26, 2014 at 8:01 pm
Awesome post. Could be expanded. Having felt condemned for years for not seeing everything in ‘black and white,’ I found liberation several years ago in Col 3:10. Also 1 Cor 13: we see in a dim mirror, we know in part (with each of us knowing different parts).
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March 26, 2014 at 9:15 pm
I had a good pastor friend years ago who spoke about how much biblical truth was “bi-polar”, rather than “either-or”, either all-black or all white. I find myself often speaking of both/and or a “third way” that our polarities don’t capture. This is harder because it means holding things in tension but I find when I don’t do this, while life gets simpler, it also gets smaller.
March 27, 2014 at 12:06 am
You may be on to something with your metaphor. An observation I’ve made that was highlighted recently on a book I’m reading is that the most sectarian spirit is demonstrated by those who talk the most being “biblical”. Focusing too much on who’s right and who’s wrong inadvertently distracts us from enjoying all that life has to offer and in doing so makes us seem a little crazy.
March 27, 2014 at 7:58 am
So often Christians focus on who’s right and who’s wrong, just like the Pharisees, and forget Jesus said, ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ (John 13:34-35). He didn’t say ‘the world will know you’re my disciples because you know all the right answers’. It is sad – and probably drives people away from the Church rather than draws them into the fold.
I really enjoyed reading this, though. You have expressed this difficult concept in a very simple way – thank you 🙂
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March 27, 2014 at 8:00 am
Reblogged this on multicolouredsmartypants and commented:
Very interesting post.
March 27, 2014 at 2:03 pm
Great post. I just started blogging after many years of hibernation. I started to write down my thoughts on fundamentalism yesterday and I will post more. I called it binary thinking. You can find it on http://dragonfinger.wordpress.com
March 27, 2014 at 11:37 pm
How true this is. The thing we see in nature is that even black and white comes with tints and variations. I grieve the message our divisiveness gives to the worlds in which we live. May we find a way to live a risen Lord.