James Meehan - How to Disagree With Dignity?
- Get involved
Vince Parker: Well welcome back to Culture Makers. Today we talk should Christians watch rated R movies? And can Christians disagree with dignity? I'm your host Vince Parker, my man James Meehan, how you doin'?
James Meehan: Better now that Vince is back.
Vince Parker: Okay then, I see you.
James Meehan: Bra I missed you.
Vince Parker: Hey, next week I got this new intro I wanna try out.
James Meehan: Can't wait, stick around next week. New intro.
Vince Parker: New intro. So how you been?
James Meehan: Really good man, really good.
Vince Parker: A little bit happened this week. I'm not gonna say a lot. Let's just say a little bit happened. I was gone last week, Ariana was here. Y'all crushed it.
James Meehan: Come on bro.
Vince Parker: Y'all were talking about Enneagram. I was down reading the comments and I was like, "There's some disagreements in there".
James Meehan: Come on.
Vince Parker: Some people who felt differently. And I thought today, let's talk about that like a broader subject. Let's talk about this, how do Christians disagree? Can Christians even disagree? Like, are you friends if you disagree with another Christian? Do you have to stop being a Christian if you disagree with another... Like how does all this work James? Break it down.
James Meehan: Great question. Can Christians disagree? No. If somebody disagrees with you, cut them out. Cancel them. All jokes aside, I think that this is one of the things that is so important for us to be able to recognize is that we can disagree without creating division. Right?
Vince Parker: Okay
James Meehan: We can disagree while still honoring the dignity of the other person. And I think there are times where as Christians we can be so convinced that our understanding of what's good and true is right, that we don't create any space for other people that disagree with us because we can interpret that as, Oh if you're disagreeing with me, then you must be disagreeing with what I believe the Bible says.
Vince Parker: That's a good way to look at it.
James Meehan: And I think this is the part where it can get really really tricky because all of us that consider ourselves Christians hopefully are trying to build our lives around what scripture reveals as truth. The problem is, is that none of us have a fully objective view of scripture. All of us bring our own perspectives and biases to what we read in the Bible.
Vince Parker: So none of us are Jesus.
James Meehan: Oh shoot! None of us are Jesus. Come on. Tweet that. Do people tweet?
Vince Parker: Yes. They do. Still the same James
James Meehan: Good, good. But I think that's the important thing to remember is that there will be times where we can disagree with somebody about things that feel really important to us. But we have to always remember is that our relationship with the other individual is so much more important than how we are choosing to define what we think is right or wrong. Because if we put what's right over caring for the individual, than I think we're actually missing it because Jesus didn't say, "Hey the world's gonna know who you are by how right you are, by how well you argue, by all the people you show what's what". Jesus said, "The world will know who we are as followers of him, by the way that we love". And so when I think about disagreeing with others, I wanna always do the best I can to put the individual ahead of my own ideas. I want to do the best that I can to serve that person rather than win a conversation. Now, of course, they're gonna be things that are important that we do want to do the best we can to get right. But in the process, if I push people aside if I tear people down or if I cut people out than I think we're missing it a little bit.
Vince Parker: We all don't have the same interpretation of the Bible 'cause there's some personal perspective that we add to it as you said, what do you think leads to some of these disagreements? What do you think leads to some of these arguments where people steadfast and you get to division?
James Meehan: Yep. I think it comes to this idea that sometimes we can forget that in order for something to be true, it has to be loving.
Vince Parker: Okay.
James Meehan: And here's what I mean by that. We believe that the foundation of reality is Jesus. It is the God revealed through Christ. It is the God who is defined as love and for something to be true, it means that it's consistent with reality. And so if what we're saying the foundation of reality is, is a loving God, then in order for it to be true it has to be consistent with that. So here's what that means. That means there are times where we can say things that might be true factually but we deliver them in a way that is not loving. Now that thing is no longer consistent with reality. It's no longer true. So in order for it to be true, it has to be loving and in order for it to be loving, it also has to be true. It's this really really difficult tension to live inside of which says "Hey I'm going to refuse to say anything that is not true, and I'm gonna make sure that anytime I say what's true I'm gonna do it in a way that's loving" because anything short of that is less than what's actually true.
Vince Parker: Okay. Now let's kind and move on to a topic that might have some controversy too.
James Meehan: Come on, my favorite line.
Vince Parker: When I was growing up this was a straight clear answer, straight clear thing. So last night the Oscars were on or probably two days ago when it first aired depending on where you're watching it, and all the movies that won top prizes, right? All the Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress Best Actor, Top Movie, rated R.
James Meehan: Come on. So growing up like you did not watch rated R movies. It was just, "Oh, you believe, in Jesus? Ah, you can't watch rated R. Movies".
Vince Parker: Interesting.
James Meehan: Right. But that just shows you how old I am, but not really that old. So can Christians watch rated R movies?
Vince Parker: Can they?
James Meehan: Should they? Should they. Let's go with should they.
Vince Parker: That's a better question.
James Meehan: Our questions are always should they.
Vince Parker: And, and I think that's an important distinction. Can they? Yes. Should they? I think it depends. Right? So first of all, here's the deal. If you're not old enough to watch a rated-R movie and you're sneaking behind your parents' back to watch a rated R movie, probably would avoid that. Because what we wanna do is we want to honor our parents, right? And if you're living in a house where there's a rule that says, "Hey, don't watch rated R movies. Don't lie to me as your mom or your dad". then dude, don't do that. That's messed up. And so then if your parents are okay with you watching those movies then I think that's a different conversation where you start asking, Okay, Should I? And I think it depends on, where is that movie going to lead you towards? Is it gonna lead you towards thoughts of lust, thoughts of demeaning other people, is the violence, the gore gonna desensitize you to the pain that people in our world experience. And if it's going to move you away from who God's created you to be, then I would probably avoid watching that. Now I think that there are times where you can probably watch some of these movies, can do it with wisdom and discernment so that it's not moving you away from becoming the person that God's created you to be. I think if that's the case then I don't really think it's a huge problem. But again, the stipulations are, hey, like are your parents cool with it? And then "is this moving you closer to Jesus or further from him"?
James Meehan: I liked it. Did you watch the Oscars last night?
Vince Parker: Nope.
James Meehan: Have you seen the movie that won Best Picture?
Vince Parker: Not a chance.
James Meehan: "No Man's Land".
Vince Parker: Haven't, no. Is it, was it good?
James Meehan: I haven't seen it.
Vince Parker: Oh.
James Meehan: You've seen one of 'em though. You saw the movie that's Best Animated Feature.
Vince Parker: Oh, which one was it?
James Meehan: "Soul".
Vince Parker: Oh Come on. Yeah, I did. I saw that. Yes please. Dude I'm sophisticated.
— Well done. And I saw the movie...
— Wait did you see "Soul"?
— I did not see "Soul" Honestly, I hav...
— How did I see "Soul"?
— I know I have Disney Plus but I haven't seen "Soul".
— What is your deal? Vince, go watch "Soul". I'm talking to the camera right now so they will tell you to go watch it.
— In the comments, should I go watch "Soul".
— You just don't like Jamie Fox? You don't think he's a good actor, musician?
— I do. I've watched his new show on Netflix.
— Was that rated R?
— No, I don't know what it's rated on Netflix.
— I don't either.
— Moving on. Here's a question.
— I love this.
— "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier".
— Come on.
— Have you seen it?
— No, I haven't seen it. No, I've definitely seen it. I've seen all six episodes, had a blast watching them. Overall, I think it was good.
— Okay. Overall James thinks it's good. I would give it a good plus.
— Oh. This is a very interesting rating system.
— It's not great.
— Good plus.
— It could have been great though.
— Could have been great.
— Give me three more episodes to flesh out some of the characters. There were so much going on in a six episode season, that to me it felt like there were times where they were trying to throw in more things to set up phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe rather than focusing on the story of Sam and Bucky which I think was the heart of the show. And man, those moments where you had Sam and Bucky's character development, where they're like working through their different struggles and whatnot, trying not to say any spoilers, were just fantastic.
— I'm gonna take all that and then add on, Imma need a little bit more action too. It's a superhero movie
— There's so much action.
— I just need a little bit more action.
— I'm okay with that. But now the real question.
— Can I be the Bucky to your Sam?
— All day. Let's go. Comment below. Let us know how do you like to watch your streaming TV shows that release one episode at a time. Is that one episode when it comes out or is it wait six weeks, eight weeks, and then binge watch 'em. Are you a binge watcher like that?
— No. No, no. For "WandaVision" and "Falcon Winter Soldier", I watched episodes. When Netflix or whatever, when they drop a whole season all at once,
— Oh, I binge watch that. Absolutely.
— Just knock it all out.
— Yep. Come on somebody.
— So like there's eight hours you ain't getting back?
— Right? It's like running a marathon. You don't break it up, you sprint the whole thing.
— 'Cause it's there. We got some questions from our viewers. First up is, Annie Nelly. She's got a couple questions. She says, this is one.
— "How do I become spiritually hungry for God? Is it like a mindset or something"?
— That's a great question. I think as human beings, all of us are hungry for the presence of God. The problem is very few of us realize that we're hungry for that.
— Okay. So we like substitute it for something else?
— 100%. We live in a world today where there are so many different ways that we can fill our attention, that we can sometimes numb ourselves to what it is we really need. And I think the thing that's super tragic and became very apparent over the course of this last year is just how empty so many people really feel. Of course across the lockdowns, pandemic over this last year, the levels of mental health struggles were rising through the roof because there were so many people who were locked in their homes, where all they had was, Internet, technology, Netflix, whatever, and the need for real connection, for real meaning, real fulfillment, wasn't being met because they were just stuck with what's right in front of them.
— Got you.
— I think for so many of us, as we're going through life we can feel these needs to be valued, to be appreciated, to be known, to be seen and we try to meet those needs with a Netflix show, with social media, with meeting that guy or getting that girl's number or whatever that looks like. And the real hunger we're trying to fill is one that only a relationship with God can fill. And so if we're trying to feel the hunger for God and develop that in us, I think one of the most important things that we can do is practice the discipline of fasting which is this idea that we give up some things so that we can make space for God. Because if we spend our entire lives numbing our hunger for God with the things of this world, I don't think we'll arrive at the place where we realize, oh, the thing that I've been waiting for this entire time is the presence of God. And so what would it look like for you to maybe just fast from whatever thing is taking up your time and your attention, and in that space you create, fill it with reading your Bible, fill it with being at church, fill it with surrounding yourself with other godly people. Because I think it's in those environments where we create space for God, where He's gonna fill that space. And through that process, we're gonna develop more and more of a hunger for his presence.
— That kind of leads and sets up for her next question. She says, "When I'm in a spiritual battle I tend to isolate myself from people". She tends not to speak to people about how she's feeling and what she's going through. Her question is, is it okay to just talk to God about it and move on or should she talk to other people about it. Also she says that finds it hard for someone that she can really trust, if that makes sense. That makes sense to me.
— Yeah, totally makes sense. I mean my first thought to that is I think absolutely bringing those things to God first is a great response but I don't think we should stop there. Right? There's this idea that when we bring our struggles to God, He's gonna meet us where we are. But when we surround ourselves with other people, that's when we're gonna be able to experience the healing and the freedom that God offers. Because most often the way that God works is through people. Like literally the story of the Bible is the story of God choosing to fulfill his plans through his people. Galatians 6:2 says that we are "To carry one another's burdens". And in so doing we will "Fulfill the law of Christ". If you find yourself in a place where you don't have people that are there to carry that burden for you then let us help you find those people. This is why we do what we do, right?
— We like talking about culture, but even more so, we like helping connect people like you to other believers so that you won't have to go through life alone because life is so much better together. So in the description down below you can find a link to Switch Online which is our weekly church service that happens throughout the week where you can get connected to other students just like you so that hopefully you can find some of those relationships that we all really need.
— I'm with you James. My encouragement is going to be, do not do life alone. We weren't made that way. We weren't designed that way. The enemy will lie to you and tell you, you can live in isolation but God did not call us or design us to do that. So don't do life alone. My next question comes from my new favorite name that's ever coming. Are you ready?
— Their name is Wings Like Eagles.
— Oh, okay. That's an old hymn. "And he will raise you up on eagle's wings". Like the Falcon.
— I see what you did there. So here's the deal we gotta set up then the question. In religious studies at school he finds it hard not to get frustrated when they talk about Christianity in a way that depicts it as a very rules-based and not focusing on the main point, the gospel. With members of his class sometimes being mocking towards what we believe. "I know that they don't fully understand it and I really want to be patient with them, and for them to know the truth about Jesus, but do you have any advice on how to get loving correction to them without seeming pushy"?
— That's a good question right there.
— It is. I can imagine the frustration just sitting in class every day and you just know with your heart and what you believe and people have a misguided approach about that or they kind of make fun of it.
— Especially 'cause it's something that's so important to you.
— So if there's something that's deeply important to you and other people are mocking it, it can be really hard not to take that personally.
— Some of what we talked about earlier, this idea of, hey, how do we show people truth in a way that's loving. Because ultimately, that's the only way it's actually gonna be true. And the thing that I think about is the reality that our faith is built around the individual of Jesus who literally God in human flesh, who lowered himself to the position of a servant got on his knees and washed the dirty dusty feet of his disciples but before being mocked, beaten and humiliated on the cross. And so the thing is because you're feeling that tension. I think that's actually probably a really healthy thing because what it's helping you understand is that this is the perspective that a lot of people have. And I think the best way that we correct that perspective is not by telling them they're wrong. It's by showing them how real Jesus is through the way that we love.
— That's good. And I think if you can take that approach of even when they're mocking, even when they're humiliating even when they're being disrespectful to your faith, that you will show them love, you'll show them honor, you'll show them dignity, you'll show them respect. Then you'll be modeling the way of Jesus. Because while He's being mocked, while hanging on a cross He's praying to his heavenly father, "Hey these people who are murdering me, forgive them because they don't even know what they're doing". And so when you can respond to mocks by following the example of Jesus and showing love, what better way to show people what Christianity is about?
— That's good. Not easy.
— Come on, definitely not easy.
— But that's good. I like that persecution thing. Jesus went through the same thing.
— Come on, dude.
— The Bible, the scripture tells us that for our faith we will be mocked, we will be persecuted. And for some of us that's in the classroom.
— That's the people who disagree with us. For some of you that's much worse.
— Right absolutely.
— There are those who have lost their lives over their faith.
— Who literally have been outcasted by their families. And so know we are praying for you and we hate the hurt and pain that you go through but just know that Jesus will push you and carry you through this, and stay strong in your faith. And thank y'all for hanging out with us the Cultural Makers. James, myself. Remember, like, comment, share, ask your questions below. What should we talk about? What question do you have? And thank you for tuning in to the Culture Makers. We'll catch you later. Peace.
— See y'all.