Let me start off by saying that I love my dog. And I do not use the word “love” casually, not like I love steak or I love UNLV Basketball; I mean that I really love my dog. Just like any proud dog owner I am absolutely convinced that he is the greatest dog in the world. He is playful, fun, and can kill Matt’s dog. Everyone that meets him loves him (except Matt’s dog.)
But as much as I love Tucker I could never think of substituting my relationship with Tucker for those with other humans. Yet we live in a culture in which dogs are becoming primary for many people. Here is a great article on the phenomenon. Ms. Helmsley is a prime example of this as she left billions of dollars in fortune to her dogs. Plus many of you have probably heard that in many major metropolitian areas, there are now more dogs than children. What is all this about?
Well as Tim Keller astutely notes, true relationships require the ability to contradict the other. Meaning that you have yet to begin a true relationship unless the other is allowed to contradict or challenge your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values or actions. In our autonomous culture in which we view so much of life as simple exchange of goods and services we are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with allowing others the access and authority to speak into our lives. And with dogs we do not have to worry about this, the relationship is pretty simple, pet, feed, walk, and things will remain kosher. A dog will never push you to change or rethink your ideas or behaviors, they will ALWAYS accept you just the way you are, and that after all is the mantra of a postmodern culture.
So what is the takeaway? Well it might be that all of us need to be as countercultural as we can. By engaging in community that is filled with others have the the right and knowledge to speak into our lives. When they do we musn’t run or deflect what is said, but truly consider it. Doing this is truly counter cultural in a world that is terrified of conflict in relationships, because it is often the end of the line. And if you refuse to have relationships that include conflict, you are left with taking a trip to the pound for a relationship that you can count on to be conflict free, but a woeful substitute for what God intended.