Sibling Rivalry in the Family of God
At first glance, you wouldn’t think that ours is an interfaith relationship. We are all Christian after all. But as we have struggled to navigate unexpected tension, unintended word wounds, and the ways all of us have changed in our beliefs and practices, the concept of “interfaith” helps me understand the dynamic. (Please know that in embracing the term, I do not intend in any way to diminish or dismiss the challenges of relationships between people of vastly different faiths.)
Christendom is like a family of dozens of siblings. In the same way that siblings fight over little family issues that outsiders see as petty, Christian denominations (and oftentimes individual churches) argue over points of doctrine or practice whose significance is lost on those outside. They draw lines in the sand that others don’t or won’t acknowledge, bicker, backstab, name-call, or clamor for attention. Some hate each other so much they try to run them out or declare them illegitimate. Alliances shift constantly, just like in regular families. (It isn’t all bad – some stay out of the fray, still others try to be peacemakers.)
Members of my extended family identify with a variety of denominations within Christianity, some of whom do not get along very well, even though they are more alike than they are different. (Like I said, some of these disagreements are over things outsiders consider to be petty.)
And then there’s me.