bearing the tension

Over the years I've tended to favor some sort of conscientious objection when the group I'm a part of seems to be headed in the wrong direction. It probably started from my Navy experience. But I've found a similar refusal to cooperate or participate has often seemed like the best response when the majority of the group doesn't listen to my objections. It doesn't try to force them to relent. It just says I object enough to not want to be a part of what they are doing. And it leaves it for God to bring out the truth in the end.

One aspect of a conscientious objection, though, is tension between the objector and the majority of the group. That's hard to bear for long, in my experience. In that situation the tendency is to find a way to relieve the tension, either by leaving the group, or by somehow pressing the issue to a crisis, so that the group has to give in or expel the objector. Either way, the tension ends.

I can understand why people choose these tension relievers, and I've done it myself at times. It's very unsettling to be at odds with the community of people around us. But our inability to remain at tension usually leads to breaks in the community, and those usually do not benefit anyone very much. In most cases, it takes people a long time to learn a hard truth. When we just make our objection and go, we relieve ourselves (and others) of discomfort, but we don't give much time for anything to actually sink in.

So I think it's really important, not just to have the courage to conscientiously object, but to have the greater courage and patience to object and stay. To stay involved. To find other ways of showing we care, and that our relationships are about more than whatever we may be disagreeing about. To give people the time they need. To bear the tension until God relieves it, not by breaking but by mending.