At first I was just going to share this article on the Changing Face of Christian Politics, but I quickly realized I had more comments to make than I could reasonably place in a Facebook status. I encourage you to read the entire article (yes, even non-Christians). There are so many great points, not the least of which are:
1. “Surely we (Christians) want to be known for what we are FOR” (not what we are against). In my experience, although the majority of non-Christians seem to assume that the confrontational zealots that keep getting handed a microphone are representative of ALL Christians, in reality most Christians are far more interested in peace. Even those who are uncomfortable around homosexuals usually do not actively hate homosexuals, as is often portrayed. Most Christians believe that it is possible to love people you don’t agree with, regardless of the point of contention. Unfortunately, it is the combative, oppositional hard-liners that tend to get the most media coverage, because the media loves a conflict most of all. Drama gets viewers. And that fault lies with all of us, because WE’RE the viewers.
2. “”Why,” he asked, “is our go-to political strategy for beating our opponents to silence them? Why do we dismiss, rather than engage them?”….ending a conversation is vastly different from winning an argument.” We seem to want to silence or dismiss opposing views especially in instances when the opposition is speaking very loudly. In some cases, it doesn’t matter if the opposition has some valid points (even if we don’t agree with them). Let me ask you this question: If you are so confident in your position, why are you so threatened by someone presenting an opposing view? Ending a conversation by silencing it through censure or dismissing it with a shrug and a “well, they’re just ignorant, uneducated, delusional, etc is not at all the same thing as carrying on a productive discourse and finding common ground. It is not at all the way to make any progress.
And we’ve got to stop letting people cry “free speech” for their own malicious words, but then call for censure of the opposing viewpoint (or that they lose their job). It seems to be a knee-jerk reaction: I should be able to say ANYTHING I want, without repercussions, because of “free speech”. That’s a load of tripe. Free speech only allows you to say what you want (specifically, against the government) without being arrested. It was never intended to protect you from the consequences of your words. Free speech does not protect you from losing your job if you are hateful and disrespectful to your boss, neither does it protect you from disdain if you choose to express your opinion in a vindictive manner. I’m not saying people who want to speak out against (perceived or real) wrongs should keep their mouths shut. But many of the most passionate people seem to have completely lost the ability (or desire) to carefully choose their words. There is no need to sugar coat things, but neither is there a need to attack and condemn. We MUST not appoint ourselves judge, jury, and executioner, regardless of the topic of discussion. . I don’t care what the topic is, we should be able to express our beliefs without dehumanizing others. If you are incapable of doing that, you should stay away from the microphone until you grow up a bit. Or until your language skills improve.
3. “A Christianity that seeks to unilaterally impose itself on the nation is unlikely be fruitful, but it is similarly unrealistic and unproductive to force a secular morality on believers.” I believe that this is the fundamental flaw in the “right-wing” approach in recent years. First of all, Christians need to realize that we are NOT the only ones who live in this country. And the country belongs to all of those other people too. To try to legislate our version of morality is not only wrong, it is completely counterproductive. No true change is brought about by legislation alone. You cannot force someone to believe in God, or it is not true faith. But neither should non-believers try to force their beliefs (or lack thereof) upon Christians. There has been such an intense backlash against Christianity recently that it is shocking sometimes the malice with which non-Christians speak of Christians. Granted, the aforementioned heavy-handed bigots are deserving of the backlash, but do not assume that all Christians are just as vicious. And do not assume that just because some Christians ARE hateful, that you must in turn be spiteful to every Christian you ever encounter.
4. If gay people are to be afforded dignity as those made in the image of God, what does this require of our rhetoric? What does it require of our laws? This applies not only to gay rights, but to every other moral debate going on in the political arena today. Do the right-wing extremists take this concept into consideration when they are trying to force restrictive laws upon the American people? Do run-of-the-mill Christians like me consider this statement when we interact with homosexuals, prostitutes, thieves, embezzlers, liars, or any other human who has ever done anything we don’t approve of (ie, all humans, including me)?
5. “We need leaders, and people to support them, who recognize that the question for this century is not “how do I win?” but “how can we live together?”” This is really the crux of the matter. If we cannot get past our desire to “win” and instead work towards finding common ground in this world we share, we will never be able to have a productive conversation, much less a peaceful nation. Which one is more important to you? Figure out which one you value more, and you will act accordingly.