I find myself in a quandary, and it is this: how to lovingly support a friend when engaged in practices that are questionable at best and yet this person expects, or even demands, my approval of them in order to maintain the relationship? I know we all function with people every day that are not the exact same as ourslves (thank the Lord), but sometimes there are important and/or life and death issues that come up that cannot be in good conscience ignored by at least one of the persons involved. So what is the response of a friend in disagreement supposed to be? What should it be?
Of course it is almost an easy matter if advice is requested. Then, at least, permission is granted for dialogue. But what if a celebration is planned for a party that is based on congratulatories that makes you sick to your stomach? How do you graciously bow out of the underlying assumption that if you’re friends, then of course you agree with their premises? And if you must bow out, how then? How do you lovingly disagree without any person feeling (God forbid) judged? Is it even possible to strongly disagree with one big issue but still fellowship with each other through the other parts of those lives that are compatible? I’m afraid that even when hard things are gently shared with the greatest of trepidation and fear…it doesn’t always fare well. Add the fact that you’re dealing with two sinful people and whoa-baby!
I’m pretty lame at this; I don’t know how to do this well. If I knew the answers, I would still have not only the friends I have now, but all of the friends I’ve lost through disagreements over the years (some without even knowing why or how or in what I was apparently disagreeing with!). It just seems to me that a friend who is always in agreement and blessing with everything you say and do isn’t a loyal friend at all, but a fan. Or maybe one that has been somewhat manipulative demanding complete acceptance (or silence) in exchange for friendship.
If friends can’t ever disagree, then I do wonder what the point of a friend is at all. Better, it seems to me, to just buy a dog. In the meantime, if you have friends that not only hold you up, but will hold your feet to the fire when they think it is necessary, give thanks to God. They are rare, and as such are precious. I know, because I have them. The others that demand my unconditional approval of things I cannot in good conscience bare? Those, I’m afraid, I need to learn to sadly let go.