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.