Updated: Aug 31, 2022
Love. Loyalty. Allegiance.
These words are often synonymous with family. Family can be defined in many ways: our household (biological or non), friends, teammates, sorority sisters, fellow countrymen, [insert your definition here].
I have felt the same pull that many feel: the pull to love my family, evidenced by my loyalty and allegiance. If I love x, then I will show my love by siding with x above all else. That’s what family does. Family has one another’s backs...right?
Family would NEVER tell the truth if the truth appeared to be against the members’ best interests.
Family would NEVER publicly share what was supposed to be kept among themselves.
Family would NEVER start a nonprofit based on the trauma caused behind closed doors. At most, they would get counseling and remain quiet.
None of these actions would show allegiance. None of these actions would be loyal. And if none of these actions would show allegiance or be loyal, then these actions could not be loving. It is simple, deductive reasoning...right?
I can love someone, very deeply, and not pledge my allegiance to them. I can believe that they are wrong—and even have plenty of examples of harm they’ve caused—and still care for them. I can speak out against the injustice they’ve participated in, yet simultaneously desire for them to be healthy and happy. Holding both truths together is the tension of real relationships, which should not be avoided. It’s also the tension of the Christian life.
In Luke 14:26, Jesus states, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”
When Jesus says “hate,” he is referring to allegiance, not literally hating your own family (for a more detailed breakdown, check out Melissa Dougherty’s 8-minute video here). He is telling us that when we find ourselves needing to make a choice between our family and him, we need to choose him. He holds the ultimate trump card of allegiance because of what he’s done for us. He made a way for us to know him through his sacrifice on the cross. The amazing bonus is that we can all choose him and all walk along together as one family, but everyone must make that decision for themselves.
By sharing my story, I’m not making a choice that excludes other people, unless the choice they make excludes them. Unfortunately, a decision on behalf of other people is not one I get to make—but I am called to make my own.
So, when scripture directs me to share my testimony and who God is, I share my testimony and who God is. I share it for his glory. I share it to express my gratitude. I share it to prayerfully spare others similar pain and suffering. Hopefully by sharing, others find healing from past harm and are equipped to prevent future harm.
I do this even though I desperately love people who do not agree with what I’m doing.
I do this because my loyalty and allegiance is to God.
And though I fiercely love my family, I love God the most.
Call to Action:
Is there an area in your life where you're bending, but know you shouldn't be?
Consider the next step. How do you lovingly assert a new boundary?