If you check the comments section on just about anything that resembles political commentary online, you see a pretty predictable pattern. Some people weigh in with agreement. Others cast dissent. A few people start to disagree with the agreement or dissent. And then the emotional rhetoric comes out and eventually the name calling gets going. It speeds up for a bit as others join in. At some point some anonymous person tells another anonymous person they’re a communist or a racist and that both are lucky this is just anonymous online chatter or one would get beat up, anonymously. Then the once rowdy party dies down to a trickle until only the rugged few are left slugging it out over the only topic that’s left. Which is of course, abortion.
That one never really goes away. It just goes and goes. It’s one supremely principled person using their side’s principles to argue with another supremely principled person using their side’s principles to argue back. It is the ultimate cosmic political debate. It has no answer that could ever be agreed upon that would satisfy either side’s principles. I have my own point of view on it. You can read about it here. But I refuse to engage in a debate with anyone on it because it’s a big damn waste of time.
There is something I’d like to say about it though. Not just the abortion debate. But all the fun debates wrapped up into the great religious finger wag-abortion, same sex marriage, religious tolerance, transgender bathrooms and so on and so on. So here goes.
I’m sick of someone telling me that I’m not a real Christian if I vote for a candidate that doesn’t want Roe -v-Wade overthrown. And I’m sick of being told I’m going to hell because I have gay friends who are married to each other and I’m genuinely happy for their happiness. I’m sick of people telling me that if I don’t condemn the entire religion of Islam, then I’m not really an American or a Christian. All of that sounds extreme to some of you. But man, it’s out there and it’s noisy. And I’m over it. My Christian faith is at the center of my life. Not passively either. What excess time and treasure I have goes to it. What help I offer my fellow man goes through it. So I’m over hearing how my points of view offend your relationship with God. Because that’s a you issue. Go condemn someone else. Maybe even yourself for forgetting the message of love and inclusion at the heart of OUR faith.
Fervent liberals, hold your applause. I’m not done yet. Because there’s something else I’m sick of. I’m sick of the coffee house guy with the shaped beard and the shitty tattoos telling me I’m stupid for believing in God. And I’m sick of being told that I’m a homophobe or a bigot for being a Christian. I work in technology. I believe in dinosaurs and science and figuring out a way to go to Mars. And wine. Wine because it helps me love my fellow man more. And I believe in modern medicine and probably even aliens. And yes, above all of it, at the top of all of it, I believe in God and the story and teachings of his Son Jesus Christ.
It can be done. All of it can be true at the same time. For me, it has to be. Here’s why:
Somewhere in a deep dark hole in my life after years of war and anxiety and family tragedy, I found my way to faith. It wasn’t a happy path. It was my last chance before I checked out. The message I responded to was one that told me that no matter who I was or what I had done or what I was doing, that I mattered and that there was a God that loved me. It was a message that told me that even though I was broken, and I was very, very broken, it was ok, because we all were-one way or another. The message told me that there was a group who had to love and accept me no matter who I was or what I did. Because the belief that they had to was core to their very existence. And when I heard that message I made my first turn from the darkness to the light. And that’s when the healing began. I didn’t have to qualify by being perfect or believing a laundry list of dogma. If I had, I wouldn’t have made it and I don’t know where I would be right now if anywhere at all.
Somewhere there’s a kid in pain, forgotten by the world. Or a father beaten down by the hardness this world has shown him. Or a woman in a cage, real or imagined. And they can’t hear that message of the power of faith right now. Not just my faith, but any faith. They can’t hear it for a million optional but negative reasons. Reasons that don’t bring us anything else that could help the same way faith does. And we need to stop the noise, in as much as any of us can. Because it’s already hard when you’re in the darkness to feel anything other than pain. So stop making it harder. You’re not going to convince anyone. And you’re not going to help.
Maybe this week, when Christians like me everywhere celebrate the birth of Christ, take some time to listen to His message. Actually listen to the love and tolerance and acceptance in it. And see how it squares with your own.