Embrace the Gray

Hero or villain.

Work or play. 

Mental or physical.

“The bigger issue is one that moves beyond [Simone Biles] now, which is that she is either touted as a villain or a hero. On the one hand, she is super brave for doing that. I don’t think so. And then at the same time, she’s terrible because she failed her team. I don’t think that’s right either. I think that is the more problematic sign, that everything is a grand story with heroes and villains, and that’s the only way we can process it.” (Rev. Paul Koch)

Wrong or right.

Courageous or selfish. 

Me or team.

I feel a strong desire to tell you – and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me – which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us…” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Right or left. 

Safety or liberty.

Unvaccinated or vaccinated.

“…He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse… He relies on your extra dislike of one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Light or dark. 

Black or white.

Good or evil. 

“That’s our whole culture right now, there’s no gray area. Think of the political stuff, there’s no middle. There are good guys and bad guys, and if you’re not one of the good guys than you’re a bad guy. There’s no gray jedi that flows between both.” (Rev. Ross Engel)

Saint or sinner. 

Free or slave.

Dead or alive. 

The radicalization of our language in how we communicate with one another, and worse, how we think about one another, is a sad state to live in. We don’t live in a black and white reality, there are all kinds of shades of gray. Every person, decision, and opinion consists of layers of thought, emotion, and experience all tangled together. To discount that is to ignore who we are, choosing to define one another by a soundbite rather than wholistically. Even our identities as redeemed children of God place us in this gray space. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?… For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him…So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:3-11). Dead but alive, sanctified through baptism but still sinful, free from sin but slaves to righteousness. Embrace the middle ground and the tension between opposites. It’s the only way to really understand who we are. 


This article is a brief examination of the “metaphorical and theological rugby match” that was this week’s episode of Ringside Preachers. Listen to Rev. Joel Hess, Rev. Paul Koch, Rev. Ross Engel, and guest Tyler the Intern as they duke it out over the nature of Satan, Jesus’ victory lap through hell, the return of the Concerned Seminarian, and more on the full Ringside Preachers episode, “Heroes and Villains: In the Olympics and Hell”

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