Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Can't We All Just Get Along?

WARNING: I’m kind of on a soap box today, so go ahead and stop reading this if you’re not up for a controversial subject about religion and politics.

Yesterday a good friend of mine told me about a church youth event he and his son recently attended. He said it was this really fulfilling , spiritual weekend, however, on the ride home most of his traveling companions (including the Youth leader) got to talking about politics and began disparaging democrats, liberals, anti-war supporters, and Hilary for about 90 minutes.
Now, my friend is, pretty much, all of those things (well, he’s not Hilary, but he likes her just fine). He described comments that weren’t necessarily just conservative, Republican, or pro-war in nature, but were instead blatantly mean and derogatory of those who have different political views. (The idea that "any real Christian MUST be a conservative Republican or they're NOT really a Christian" is a sore spot for me, if you didn't already know.) My friend said this incident not only deflated what was otherwise a really spiritual weekend, but how he lost a lot of respect the youth leader. It was so crushing to him that he is now reconsidering going on a previously planned mission trip with the group next Summer. Worse, he is concerned with how this experience will affect his son’s attitude toward the Youth program and Youth leader. Now, I'm sure nobody intended to be hurtful or disrespectful, but I still found the whole account to be troubling.

I don't mean to pick on Republicans about this. Most of my friends are conservative Republicans and would never say anything intentionally hurtful. Also, many Democrats and liberals are just a guilty of this kind of polarization. But I keep thinking that, as Christians, we need to take a higher road and not get so dogmatic about political issues, and being "right", that we discourage other Christians. More so, we should never act un-Christlike towards anyone. Although my friend didn’t want to say anything about it, for fear it might offend him (I told you he was a liberal), I recommended that he talk to the Youth Leader and tell him how he felt so they could clear it up and heal/grow. They don’t have to agree about politics (and they probably won’t) but they DO need to clear the air and not let the offense fester.

Then this morning I read these verses in my morning devotional:
Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every kind of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.”

- Ephesians 4:29-32


Steve said...

Well said, George. Seems to me that we as Christians should look to the Bible as the final authority on how we should think/act/live. Even though I most closely align myself with the Republican party, I need to step up and "call it like I see it" when that selfsame party strays off the path. I think most folks are probably lazy and vote the party line rather than taking the time to dig into the issues and truly vote their conscience. I've been guilty of that plenty of times. Maybe it's old age mellowing me out...maybe it's wisdom.

George said...

Thanks, Bro. I'll admit I'm guilty of the same thing (although from the left side). I too frequently side with Democrats on a subject while remaining overly wary of conservatives who identify themselves as the "Christian candidate". And I used to consider myself a Conservative Republican. I guess I'm just jaded. In actuality, I'm really a moderate on the issues, but there's not a descent Moderate Party. Why isn't there a good moderate party for normal people?

On another note: So Steve, when can we expect to see YOUR Blog come online? You should call it "Critter".

Ferdlings said...

You've always been the "crazy, democrat Christian" with your scone and half-caf mocha latte... when are you gonna see right! I'm kidding, that's a great post and dead on. Tell the guy some folks can't see the forest for the trees.

Chuck said...

George, as I recall I made a very careless remark last year and I appreciate the fact that you called me out.

Here is my basic problem with mixing your politics and your Christianity: politics/government becomes a graven idol.

Who should I put my trust in? Where is my Hope?
Who is my High Tower?

It is not George, Hilary, Obama and whoever might be running for the GOP Nomination.

George said...

I agree completely. Many Americans (especially Christians) seem to want to make politicians/government leaders into Spiritual icons. Heck, even I want those leaders to be Christians. My beef isn't even with the ones who say they're Christian (often in oder to get votes) but don't represent Christian values. (Those people will always be around.) My problem is with their Christian supporters who so are so blindly loyal to them that they treat the non-supports like they aren't Christian. I seems like the "us vs them" attitudes of the media (perpetuated by folks like Rush Limbaugh, G Gordon Liddy, Al Frankin, Michael Moore, etc.), that have become "acceptable" in American society, has been allowed to infiltrate the Church and become accepted. We just shouldn't stoop to that.

BTW, I know that all of my Republican/Christian friends agree with me on this matter. And I respect our political differences. But this is a real problem in our own churches, communities, etc. I've sat in churches in Red States and listened to my own clergy talk about a political issue or candidate and how we should pray that the oposition would find Christ. I want to say "Hey, I'm part of that group and I'm not lost." I don't think it even phases most people unless they're on the receiving end of such comments.

One more story: WHen I was playing with Legend Seven, we did a gig at a church in Florida. The promoter was a hugh Rush Limbaugh fan and one of my band mates mentioned that he liked him too. When the promoter introduced us he said "...these guys are all good 'Ditto heads'". WHAT? I almost walked off the stage! He couldn't just say we were Christians? I know some people think "Ditto Head" equals Christian, but this guy seemed to think it was the next level up! Anyway, THAT was a pivotal moment that made the me the "crazy Democrat Christian" I am today.