Safe Space

November 26, 2022

     We hear a great deal about safe spaces these days. Some mean by this a space free from any triggering (upsetting) speech or imagery or ideas in general. This is far from safe, rather it sets people up for failure. Competition between ideas is critically important. It’s not comfortable, and no one wants to do it but learning to challenge our beliefs and test them against other beliefs is critical. 

     The most common place to find these “safe spaces” is on college campuses. This is somewhat ironic considering that college is the place where we should be challenged the most. It is the place where our ideas should be challenged and where we should learn to question our biases and apply reason and careful logic to our overall understanding of the world. To make colleges and universities a “safe space” is perhaps the greatest disservice we could do to young people. It completely fails to help them develop a skill set which will aid them through life and career.

There is however another kind of safe space. Related to but not exactly what has been implemented on college campuses. It is a space where we will not be castigated or ridiculed for not being perfect. A place where we can be open about our weaknesses and shortcomings so that we can find camaraderie and accountability. It is deer season and so many are sharing pictures of the deer they have harvested or their efforts at harvesting. I have noticed a troubling trend with these images. Whenever a hunter shares something many are quick to criticize. The blind construction the firearm, bow, or crossbow used, the hunting style and location are all subject to ridicule.

     I have often benefited from the wisdom of others and for that I am deeply thankful. However, I will quickly add that I have not benefited much from insults or ridicule. I suspect the same is true of you. We need to be able to have conversations especially about things we disagree about. However we need to remain civil and even loving. Paul instructs Timothy who is dealing with brethren who are in error, to correct your opponent’s gently in hopes that they will be corrected and return in faithfulness. This must be our goal as well.

I am not suggesting that we allow compromise in our worship assemblies or disinformation to be shared by a preacher or teacher. However, I am suggesting that we should foster an environment where people can ask questions and share ideas which may be wrong and then find correction. Where those struggling to remain faithful can find encouragement when struggling with sin. I am reminded of Apollos who was shown the way of God more accurately. We can be thankful that he was and for his contribution to the young church. I do wonder if the same is possible for us today or are we to critical and exclusionary for this to take place. 

We must also consider the admonition to bear one another’s burdens. How can faithful Christians carry out this act of love and service if we have created an environment where people are ashamed to admit they have any burdens? 

     With this in mind I would suggest we create a real safe place, where the body of Christ can do the work of Christ who came to call “not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” I am no doubt in need of repentance and maybe you are too, my prayer is that my brethren carry out this work for me as I will endeavour to do for them. 

~ Kevin Cleary