Friday, July 07, 2006

Fists of steel

I had a conversation with some friends the other night that stirred some serious emotions in me, brought me to the point of anger, took me down a notch to self-reflection, and left me with a lot of questions. We started out talking about this letter that I got from James Dobson. The letter was a disheartening attempt to scare me into voting against legislation that would require as part of public school curricculum recognition of the historical accomplishments of homosexuals. As I read the letter, processing statements such as "California's legislature is entirely controlled by radical homosexual liberals" and "this is part of an agenda to infiltrate and brainwash the minds of our children, much like the Hitler youth campaigns", I found myself not hating homosexuals like Dr. Dobson apparently intended, not seeing them as the "terrorists" and "infiltrators of our children's minds". Rather, I found myself thinking that it was Dobson who was the terrorist, it was Dobson who in his total insecurity and ignorance felt the need to use brainwashing phrases in a letter such as this to scare people into seeing things his way. I found myself grieving that these statements were being associated with the name of Jesus Christ, and I found myself losing any desire to ever be associated with a group of people that included individuals that wrote letters such as this.

But then, naturally, I had friends who challenged my perceptions. I had friends who reminded me that this is a free country and that citizens such as Dr. Dobson have the right to free speech, and have the right to speak out about what they believe. "But not in the name of my savior" I replied, how dare he give such a bad impression of christianity. But then I was gently reminded by my fellow conversants that I cannot change anyone except myself, no matter how unjust I believe someone's behavior to be. I adhere to my opinion that sending out letters such as this is something to be ashamed of and really doesn't accomplish anything, but getting all worked up about it won't accomplish anything. I have to fight it with love displayed in my own life.

Which brings me to my next question. All the time, including during the conversation a few nights ago, I hear people say that someone has to fight these battles, someone has to stand up for what they believe in. But are we really accomplishing anything by supporting or opposing legislation that affects things like gay marriage or diversity education? Let's say that we choose to fight this battle and we win, where will be? Sure, maybe we've protected our sacred idea of marriage and kept our kids from being "brainwashed" (or have we?), but what will we have really accomplished? We'll end up with a county that supports laws that reflect our moral standards, so maybe our country will "look real nice", but have we actually made any changes at all to the "real problems"? But oh, some may say, if we don't fight this battle, our country will continue in a downward spiral until morality no longer exists. I cannot refute that, and I'm not arguing that perhaps a battle needs to be fought, I merely question the way we fight it.

So, we've successfully passed on the legislation that we feel is important to mandate morality in this country and our fears of the "slippery slope" are relieved. But where are we really? Have people's hearts changed? No, and this is where the real problem lies. Change, as we have all experienced, cannot happen from the outside. When change is forced, it is unwelcome and ineffective. Is it better to fight from the top down and mandate morality? Or is it better to live in loving relationship with people, sharing the love of Christ, and bringing us all to the place where we want to live morally and cooperatively with one another because we have been transformed and believe in the ability of human beings to live in spiritual and physical harmony? I believe this is what Jesus, my savior, was all about. Name one time that Jesus spent his energy telling his disciples how evil homosexuals were, how they were something to be feared because they were on a campaign to brainwash children and destroy the fabric of society. The only people to whom Jesus was ever truly abrasive or disrespectful were the religious leaders of the time, because they were the ones practicing manipulation and leading people astray. It was the pharisees whom Jesus called a "brood of vipers", not homosexuals or drug-addicts or sex-addicts. Jesus lived in loving relationships with the hurting and the broken of our world. He showed love to those who did not purport to have it all figured out, those who entertained questions and felt okay with ambiguity. This is what I want to be. I want to be one who is okay with admitting that he doesn't always know what's right or wrong beyond knowing without a doubt that Jesus loves him and sacrificed His life for him. I want to be one who does not react to the world out of fear, but embraces the world through the light and love of Christ. I believe that the world can be transformed to the place where the government need not mandate morality, need not tell us how to live together in harmony, because we the people demand it of each other out of love and respect. We the people can learn to function together in love. I truly believe that where there is light, there is no darkness, and where there is love, there can be no hate. The best way to face our fears is to embrace them in love. For it is what we refuse to embrace, what we do not understand, that we find easy to fear, that we find so easy to hate.

7 comments:

Jordanita said...

I find this expression particularly insightful because you are not coming from a place of blaming, rather exposing an issue and coming at it from all angles, including reflectoin of your perspective on the issue. Cudos to you considering i was so angry about the letter i wanted to burn it, stuff it into a little envelope and send it back to Dobson with the phrase "you" written across it. Well okay, maybe not the sending it back part but i did want to burn it. I know...i have issues.
Great blog!
I love you Colter.

Jordana

tom mulhern said...

I am doing a bible study right now with some friends going through Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis, and it has struck some major discussions about the Christianity that we were raised in. I was raised by James Dobson and so I heard these types of messages growing up, but now I have a hard time with a lot of the things that some Christian leaders say (especially about the homosexual agenda).

It is difficult to break down the walls that our well meaning youth pastors built up on Wednesday nights and at camp, but it essential if we want to truly walk with Jesus. I think that the whole morality police issue is a muddy well that we get trapped in. We should not be pushing our morality on other people, but instead inviting them to orient their lives around Christ and see what happens.

It scares me that there are so many different voices within the Christian community that have been shouting hate and judgment for so long, and so few voices counteracting that judgment with grace and understanding. We need to be the "other voices" within the church calling out to a world that is hurting saying, "Truly follow Jesus and see what happens in your life."

Anyways, good thoughts Colter. I miss you buddy and I am glad that I can see your thoughts and look at pictures of you on the internet. Peace!

chris campbell said...

yeah, this is one of those things. christianity has generally made a bigger deal out of homosexuality than it really is. that's not to say that it isn't important, because it is, but it isn't the thing that will destroy america's family, as dobson supposes. homosexuality has become so demonized that we've begun to lose sight of people. (unless, of course, we happen to know someone who reminds us that they aren't demons.)
i don't know what exactly i'm trying to say, but i guess it runs along lines of alarmist and fatalist notions of the future due to the distancing of the "other". if there is someone who sees the world differently or conducts their life in another way, then they become this "other", this person who can be marginalized and scapegoated and suffocated. like brainwashing of hitler's youth. (interesting note: the church in germany championed hitler and his government when they came to power because of the moral and social code they purported. less than 1% of european gentiles resisted the holocaust; 99% were not simply complicit or scared bystanders, but also those who directly participated in the persecution and killing of jews. **see "the righteous gentiles of the holocaust" by david gushee.)
and i guess i wonder if we all aren't standing on that slippery slope anyway, regardless of whether we stop legislation or start it. evil still creeps in the hearts of men, and it's best to look within as much as you look without.

Anonymous said...

I love your writing, Colter. You are honest and open and looking for God's perspective as you embrace Him and His love for reaching people to draw them into the kingdom. Keep your passion for Christ and Christ-likeness as you withold judgement and reach out.

dad

SaidStrumpet said...

If you will allow me a brief geektastic moment here. The first thing that came to mind when I read this was a lovely little quote from a lovely little puppet in a lovely (but not so little) movie franchise. I'm sure you know him. Short, green, talks funny, answers to the name of Yoda. His wise words were all the rage a few years back. He said "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." That's fairly in depth logic coming from someone who spends most of his time letting someone else pull his strings. Makes you wonder who's really in control doesn't it? Interesting analogy ...

Yet I digress. In regards to your actual blog, I don't think it's possible to mandate morality and those who try inevitably do more harm than good. What starts as opinions quickly escalates into drawn lines, either-or's and extremist view points.

I love that you point out that the only people Jesus was openly opposed to at the time were religious leaders. I think that speaks volumes. It makes me sad when people think the church (any church) is infallible. I admit I am not the best person to say such things, not being religious myself, but it's something I've never managed to get my head around.

I think the best you can do is just what you're already doing. Be the change you want to see remember?

Patrick said...

you know my opinion about this, we spent quite a long time discussing this, btu I just wanted to reiterate one thing... Why tell someone who is doing something that they know is wrong, that they are doing something wrong. They are already hearing it from everyone else, they don't need it from you to. Jesus' message was love, not hate, not guilt, not anger... We need to realize that Jesus didn't even hate the Pharisees. When he spoke to them he was trying to open their eyes, he was trying to help them see things the way the God saw them. He was essentially saying, "you are missing the point". So let's not miss the point, lets think outside the box, let fight outside the box, lets love... There is more to life than this world.

Anonymous said...

Colter,

What an insipiration you are. Such a young man with such an ancient, wise soul.

Deine Mutti