Traditions vs. Truth
I just directed “Fiddler on the Roof” at my school. I’ll be honest – I was nervous about directing this beloved show. It was a massive undertaking by all involved. The biggest musical I have ever directed. But it turned out to be amazing! Other than that one cast member who chose not to show up to the performances, it was perfect! (Soap Box moment: folks, don’t ever do that to a director…or an employer…or anyone who is counting on you. You could end up blacklisted, fired, or worse – subtweeted on my blog!).
Tevye, the main character, watches as his family and his village change before his eyes. His oldest daughter chooses her own husband! Without a matchmaker (*gasp*). Tevye wrestles with this, but decides a matchmaker is just a tradition, not a Truth, so he gives his permission. His second daughter doesn’t even ask his permission to marry. She just wants his blessing. Again, he wrestles with whether or not he can do this. But love for his daughter overrules love for tradition, and he gives both his blessing and his permission. His third daughter, however, chooses to marry outside the faith. As Tevye thinks through this, he realizes this isn’t simply a tradition Chava has broken. It is the sacred Law of God. In the most quoted line from the play, he says, “If I bend that far…I will break.” And he walks away from his daughter forever. In the end, his entire village must leave their homes because of their faith. The Russian government no longer wants Jews in their country.
Folks from all ends of the political and religious spectrum connect with the themes in this show. As a Christian, I feel for Tevye. I understand that some of what I hold dear are just “traditions” — getting dressed up for church, having worship music before the sermon, being clean cut and tattoo-free – ideas that the church has held to for years, but aren’t actually related to righteousness. But much of what I
believe is based on the unchanging Truth of God’s word – the high value of life and marriage, for example – Truth that is becoming less and less acceptable in my “village”. Like Tevye, I can only bend so far. I should only bend so far. Because honoring God’s revealed Truth is far more important than being accepted by the world around me.
As I watched this show, I was reminded of who I am. Whose I am. I was reminded that there are times when I need to let go of traditions that I have held to, and other times when I need to stand for Truth. Even if it hurts. Because God’s laws are for our good, because He loves us.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2