Opinions on faith and life

A Bad Experience

2009-01-10

I have noticed that whenever you disagree with someone, one of the most common assumptions they jump to is that “you had a bad experience”; that there must be some trauma you suffered that makes you crazy enough to disagree with them.

For example, anyone who disagrees with male supremacy is presumed to have been abused or had a bad marriage. Anyone who questions the “churchianity” paradigm is presumed to have had some kind of problem “at church”, or is only whining about not finding the perfect church. Anyone who is politically conservative is presumed to be either uneducated or a “fundy”. Anyone who believes in the Rapture is presumed to be escapist or elitist.

Notice to the presumptuous: it ain’t necessarily so.

In fact, I’d be so bold to say that a lot of disagreements happen just because we’re not all clones or robots. Two people can be equally intelligent, equally educated, equally willing to see the other side, and yet still disagree in the end. It isn’t that one is proud or blind, but that people sometimes (frequently) just disagree. It’s a human thing.

Bad experiences can affect people, some temporarily and some permanently. But one should never presume that a bad experience is at the root of every disagreement. My readers know my stance on a lot of controversial issues, such as women in the church and home, church organization, security of salvation, and so on. But I have a good marriage, never had a big problem in any church, and am not looking for the Rapture out of fear or pride but because I so ache to see my Savior and for the long history of human suffering on earth to end.

So next time you find your self in a disagreement with someone, be alert for this presumption and make sure it isn’t being used as a reason for an argument to be dismissed.

6 Comments

Lynne

the corollary of that is that if a bad experience wakes you up to the fact that something you’ve been taught doesn’t actually work -- it is assumed that your decision is emotional and irrational, Aren’t we capable of re-evaluating the validity of our beliefs in the light of our experience? eg a "bad" experience of marriage that led a woman to re-examine her beliefs on male and female roles does not mean that her new egal beliefs are irrationalor discountable -- she may have only changed her mind after long, prayerful study

Paula Fether

Yes, excellent point Lynne. Bad experience or not, people are capable of changing their minds or being stronger for the experience. Yet opponents will use it as an excuse to brush us off. Those experiences told in Perpetuating Error somehow aren’t used as excuses to brush off the "callings" of those "ministers", are they.

Lin

My ’bad experience’ drove me to scripture alone begging the Holy Spirit to teach me. That is a good thing. I was stunned at how much I believed was man made. My bad experience made me much more spiritual and showed me to not lean on my own (or man’s) understanding but on the Holy Spirit through the Word.

But there are many that will think that makes me emotional, bitter and unforgiving. What it makes me is motivated to encourage others to do the same...run to HIM and His Word. Be a Berean.

Paula Fether

Yep. Maybe a lot more people need bad experiences. ;-)

molly

Ah, how many many times has that "experience" been used on me to "prove" that whatever I had to say was without any value. I hate that!

Paula Fether

In all honesty, I think that no matter what we’d say or not say, they’d find an excuse to brush us off.