The Betrayal Paradox

by E.L. Anglin

The playwright Tennessee Williams once wrote that, "We have to distrust each other. It is our only defense against betrayal."

At the onset of His greatest crisis, as hundreds of followers deserted Jesus, He looked at the few remaining from His inner circle and asked, "Will you also go away?" (John 6:67) Unfortunately, the verbal answer to that question did not match what would play out, because eventually the overwhelming majority of his inner circle walked away, too.

I've often felt sympathy for Christ's struggle with rejection. Lately, however, I empathize.

Betrayal is something the socially mature (otherwise known as the jaded) seem beyond. It only happens to those with open hearts.

We could not have imagined when first we answered the call to "take up our cross" (Matthew 16:24) that the decision would cause people who had only ever loved and respected us to desert us.

We struggle to comprehend how even those who remain with us physically could be so emotionally detached.

We wilt under the weight of the knowledge that our theological shift is a great embarrassment to those who used to love us.

The joy of new illumination is tempered with the sting of betrayal.

Those we considered friends and loved proved nothing more than temporary allies. We were only valuable so long as we sang their song, and marched in their army.

The sense of loss is stifling.
The grief palpable.

The paradox is that the system we left feels wounded, too.

~We left doctrines we once held dear.
~The people who still hold those beliefs feel betrayed.
~They equate doctrinal rejection with personal rejection.
~They worry that they will be judged harshly for continued association with us, so they disconnect .

This extends beyond casual church acquaintances. Families fracture, too. I mourn when I read messages from spouses who've been divorced, or children who've been disowned, over doctrinal shifts.

The absurdity is that the Gospel, the greatest message of peace, is contorted into a religious weapon with which to kill the souls of those we once loved.

Doctrinal disagreements are no reason to sever relationships, especially those sealed with vows and/or blood.

Tennessee Williams was wrong. We do not have to distrust each other. The antidote for betrayal is love. It's selflessness. It's remaining open when the heart wants to close.

Jesus expressed this on a cross, and a cross is what you agreed to carry when you said you would follow.

Learn to pray, with gusto, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)


This writing is the copyright of E.L. Anglin and is reprinted on this site by permission. View all of his available articles here.


Page added March 27, 2015

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