Politics can really put a strain on relationships. It makes me wonder if we shouldn’t put a bit of thought into what is happening in our politics, or better yet, in our friendships, if we can become so divided over something like an election.
I have really tried to avoid voicing my political opinions very adamantly because I know that it would strain some relationships with some of my friends. It has already cost me one or two Facebook friends, which obviously were not real friends, because I either responded to something they said or they did not like what I said. Sadly, we can allow politics to interfere with friendships when they are rarely why we became friends to begin with.
Have we forgotten that as Americans we all have freedom of speech? It seems as if one side is always trying to make the other side sound as if they are anti-American or even bigoted if their opinion differs. But the beauty of America is that we all have the right to say what we think. Yes, even bigots can voice their opinion and I can’t do anything about it. I can lobby against their cause and I can vote against their candidate, but I cannot stop them from saying what they want to say, and yes, they can call me names too.
Isn’t friendship stronger than politics though? What makes your friendship strong is a relationship. That makes me wonder what kind of relationship we think that we have if an election season and ruin friendships? Facebook friends for the most part are not really friendships. I am talking about people whom we know or at least thought that we knew for some period of time. This precious bond of friendship is supposed to be one of respect and mutual admiration. We are supposed to know more about our friends than what pages they like and what pictures they share on a web-page. We should know what their deep-rooted beliefs are. Do they think that wealth should be redistributed or do they feel like they should be able to keep the money they earn and give to charity as desire? Do they believe that life is a precious gift from God and it begins at conception or do they feel like a woman can do whatever she wants with something that is within her own body? Do they feel like marriage is already defined or needs to be redefined? But do these things really make a friendship?
You know what surprises me? These things are rarely talked about when two friends get together for a lunch or game of cards or to watch a movie. These things are important, but most people don’t meet at political rallies to begin friendships. most friendships begin in school or on the golf course or at a kid’s soccer game. Most friendships are formed with the idea that you like that person for who they are, not what political views they have. And, these friendships should last even when you find out that he is a Republican and you are not or she is a liberal and you are not.
Some of my best friends hold vastly different political views than I do. I have known that for a long time and though they are wrong for disagreeing with me, (haha), we work together, play together, laugh together, cry together, and yes, we attend the same church together. We do this because politics is not the driving force behind our relationship. We can be different and still like each other. We can hold views that are very polarizing in the political world and not let it cause our friendship to suffer. Different is not always wrong and even if it is, how will you ever change someone’s mind if you don’t like them as a person?
America is a beautiful place where people from every walk of life can live together and voice their opinions and still love each other as fellow Americans. We can work together and play together and vote opposite of each other and at the end of the day, still be friends. If you can’t do this, perhaps you should evaluate who you call friends and what a true friend really is. Perhaps you should decide if politics is more important than a friend and if so, be prepared to live a lonely life. Politicians will say whatever it takes to get your vote, a friend will doesn’t care about your vote, whoever it is for, they care about you.
Politics can really put a strain on relationships. It makes me wonder if we shouldn’t put a bit of thought into what is happening in our politics, or better yet, in our friendships, if we can become so divided over something like an election.
Now that Mitt Romney has gained enough delegates to officially receive the Republican presidential nomination, the campaign is gonna get nasty. If you think that what you have heard up until now was bad, wait for what you are going to see in the next few months. These guys better put on their toughest skins and hang on for dear life.
I would be lying if I said that I totally hate the political season. I do get tired of the lies that are told from both sides. I also get tired of the smears of a personal nature. I wish that the candidates would just say what they are going to do and how they are going to do it and let us decide for ourselves about their character. But there has to be some way of knowing about a person’s past and who they associate with. It would be nice if the media would research this and put out an information source for those who want to read it. But that won’t happen and we, the voting public, will have to sort through the slants and angles that is called the news.
I guess what bothers me the most about this time of year is how I am almost forced to choose sides between friends. I know that I often voice my opinion in my blogs, but I try my best to keep it civil. I also feel that a blog is a place for thoughts, feelings, and opinions to be voiced. But sometimes Facebook, and yes I know I post this on Facebook, is a place where some really hateful stuff is posted that is very stereo typical and often down right ignorant and hateful. I am talking about people who I consider in many cases, personal friends. But they use Facebook to say things that I have never heard them say in person and it is often very decisive. I have seen this especially in the political realm. Right and left hate blurbs that are meant to somehow make you seem involved, often make you think about who your friends are. If they feel that strongly about their point of view and people who view things differently, then maybe the friendship needs to be examined.
Right now many of you are jumping to the conclusion that I am talking about you. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that I care that much about your stupid rants on Facebook. I care more about what they do to relationships. I never knew some things about some of my friends until they made that one really thoughtless posts that said something that lumped me into the group of worthless, lowlife, scum that you were talking about. And I bet you didn’t know that about me. Maybe we need to spend more time talking to those who are different from blasting a stereo type on Facebook.
Here is something that I know about differences. They are healthy in a relationship. My wife and I are almost complete opposites in many areas. We have been married for over 30 years even with those differences. But I never post something hateful about something that I know that she feels strongly about. That would hurt our relationship. Instead I appreciate our differences and have found that they make us a stronger couple. There are some things that I am passionately against that she likes, but that does not make her wrong or lump her into a group of hate mongers. I have found that some of those things make her far better at dealing with some situations than I could ever do.
In our political arena, we have become so polarized that we can see no good in the other party. But that is not the way our founding fathers intended it to be. They understood that there must be checks and balances in our leadership and that if each party used its strengths, together we would have a great country, like the one that we are in danger of losing if we continue the trend toward total one-sided hatred. Healthy debate is a wonderful thing, but stereo typing gets you to the point where nothing gets accomplished. Sadly we see this in Washington today. And I am sure that you know exactly which side is the problem (HAHAHA).
I have learned in my years of dealing with life and relationships that there is never only one side who can take all the blame. Sure there can be a degree that is greater on one side than the other, but never is it completely one-sided. We shouldn’t let politics divide us to the point of losing our ability to listen to other opinions and solutions to problems that need to be solved. And if we can’t agree that one side’s ideas are right for us, we don’t have to throw them into the category of evil.
We just celebrated Memorial Day to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom. I served in the Navy with people from every walk of life and never once did we let our differences stop us from serving the country that we love. It is freedom that allows us to have our opinions and to voice them. It is freedom that allows us to be different and still be Americans. So be careful not to get locked into the polarizing speech that causes folks to choose a side over a friendship. Strong friendships are far more valuable than strong opinions spoken behind the screen of a computer.
I don’t usually blog about stuff that is controversial or things that people can possibly disagree with me on, but today I am going to. In my neighbor state of North Carolina they are voting on an amendment to the state constitution that will make marriage between a man and a woman the only legal and recognized form of marriage. It has been very interesting to listen to the talk about this issue. Some people get all freaked out about it and the arguments are often to the point of being ridiculous and even funny. My favorite is the one that says, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. How silly is that? We all know that Steve was not created until after Jesus walked on water.
I figure that sometime between now and the end of the week I will get asked what my opinion is about this, so I am jumping ahead of the game and putting out my blog before I am even asked.
My opinion is just that, an opinion. I am not the final authority, although I should be. Things would just be so much easier if everyone agreed with me. My opinion is not really an opinion but rather a question. What has been the definition of marriage for as long as there have been marriages? Merrian-Webster Dictionary has given this definition for as long as it has been in print: the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law. There is a 2nd definition that includes same-sex marriage, but it was added within the last 30 years or so. There was a time when no one would ever think of marriage any other way. For thousands of years that is what marriage was. If two people lived together, as lovers, that did not mean they were married. In some states there was a provision under the law called common law marriage, so that people who shared an estate for many years had certain rights, but it was not an official marriage to those people. Why do we need to change the definition? Perhaps there should be another descriptive word for same-sex couples who legally or ceremonially join as a couple.
If we change the definition of marriage because someone doesn’t like what it means, where do you draw the line? The definition of a word that is as old as marriage should not offend people. It was never meant to. I don’t like the word bald meaning no hair, so I think I want it to mean I have hair. Change the definition and I am still bald.
The real argument is not about a definition, but about civil rights afforded to two people who live together. Why not just change that law instead of the definition of the institution of marriage? I could care less if that happens. But we all know that it goes deeper than that. Marriage is something that most people relate to a religious argument. The only religion that I have personal knowledge of and its teaching about marriage is Christianity and from what I understand, it too describes marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Many of the laws in most civilized countries have a religious foundation, including murder and stealing. But many laws have no religious bearing what so ever. Traffic laws for instance have nothing to do with a religious teaching at all. They are made by man for man (and women).
My point is this. If people of the same-sex want to be legally equal in the benefits and rights given to a couple of opposite sex, then make a law to give those rights. Don’t change the meaning of marriage. It has meant one thing for far longer than this modern argument has been going on. Our country has a system in place to help those who are overlooked, by-passed, or even purposefully mistreated. Legislators can amend constitutions and correct injustice, but it doesn’t have to be done by changing a definition. We did not change the definition of slavery to free those who were wronged, we changed the law. A slave is still someone who is owned and controlled by another human.
So that is my blog on the controversial subject being voted on in my neighboring state. Remember that I said that it would be better if everyone agreed with me. Don’t make things difficult, just agree. And by agree, I mean, think like me, act like me, be like me. Later I may try to come up with a word that we can use for same-sex unions that I like. Until then, I will only use marriage to describe a man and a woman, legally able to file taxes as married people. Don’t be hatin'; its my blog.
1 Welcome people who are weak in faith, but don’t get into an argument over differences of opinion.
2 Some people believe that they can eat all kinds of food. Other people with weak faith believe that they can eat only vegetables.
3 People who eat all foods should not despise people who eat only vegetables. In the same way, the vegetarians should not criticize people who eat all foods, because God has accepted those people.
4 Who are you to criticize someone else’s servant? The Lord will determine whether his servant has been successful. The servant will be successful because the Lord makes him successful.
In this particular few verses, we see that Vegans have been causing trouble with meat eaters, at least that is the way I see it. Vegans are a weird bunch of people who just don’t understand how wonderful bacon really is. One of my best friends is a vegan and she will tell you that I am right. Vegans are weird. But I should refrain from making such comments so not to start an argument. Notice that I didn’t say that they are wrong, just weird. Wrong would be forcing my opinion of food on another and these verses say we shouldn’t. Weird says, I can’t believe that you don’t love bacon! Even God changed His mind about eating bacon. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 11:7 , You must never eat pigs. (Because pigs have completely divided hoofs but do not chew their cud, they are also unclean.) he told the Jews not to eat pork, but in the New Testament, Acts 11:8-9 8 “But I answered, ‘I can’t do that, Lord! I’ve never put anything impure or unclean into my mouth.’ 9 “A voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Don’t say that the things which God has made clean are impure.’
He changed His mind and I am pretty sure it was all about bacon. Bacon is heavenly, in my opinion.
By now, Vegans and others who think that I am making light of the Bible in general are mad at me and ready to argue. But I am wise and I hide behind a computer to these controversial things. Sure you can respond and I have the choice of publishing your response or not, but I will not cause a scene in public over this powder keg of Biblical interpretation. I will only remind you of what Paul says in the first verse of this opening scripture and welcome you of weak faith to my world. A world where every meal is wrapped in bacon and every Vegan is weird. But just like the bacon, the Vegan is loved. I love you and God loves you and I believe if it were possible, bacon would love you.
I love what verse one says. Sadly it is ignored by way too many Christians. We just can’t resist a good argument. There is just something fulfilling, in the wrong way, about arguing. Of course I would love to have everyone agree with me on all of my points of view, but that would mean I would have less of a drive to blog as often as I do and you would be less fun to mess with. You, being anyone who does not believe the way I do.
God loves unity, but most people would argue that the church who believes in this God of unity, sure doesn’t love the unity that He does. After all, many wars have fought over religion or something to do with it. On any given day you can start a fight between two people who say they believe in the same Jesus just by asking them to explain the difference in what they believe. I know it sounds like a lot of fun, but us believers we really ought to think twice before we open our mouths sometimes. I have met more people who refuse to believe in the God of the Bible because of Christians than I ever have because of their own research.
I started off poking fun, and yes it was just that, to prove a point. Arguments over such things have been going on for quite a while and to be honest, they are not important in the way that God thinks about us. Humans will never be able to fully understand God’s love and patience with us. But other humans will never understand Christians who set out to do battle with anyone who has an opinion different from theirs. The church, is made up of people from every walk of life and the only constant is a God that we can’t fully understand. He has made it simple to be part of His family, but not exclusive to the interpretation of any one person or group. It all boils down to this. We are sinners, God is not. God loves us, we love self. So God gets to call the shots and is fully capable of straightening out any mess that we make, even when it involves bacon.
I have decided that this will be the last blog that I do for the rest of the year. I figure that I will start back sometime next year. Please be patient and don’t panic. For my last blog of 2011, I thought it would be good to say thanks to everyone who has read any of my blogs and share a few last thoughts for the year.
I do read every bit of feedback that I get. I do not post every reply because some are not appropriate to be posted on a church website, where all of my blogs are posted. Some are simply personal and other are redundant. But I do read and appreciate your feedback.
This year was the first time that I have ever attempted to blog on a regular basis. It has been quite challenging to not get repetitive and to continually come up with something worth reading. Some of you are waiting patiently for that to happen still. I have found some of the best ideas for blogs come from you guys. Many this year have come from one particular friend who loves to challenge me and I think that she likes to give topics that she knows that I will get blasted for. I do enjoy the challenge and I hope that next year more people will offer suggestions for topics. As you can tell, I don’t shy away from many, even though I probably should.
It has been my goal to be honest, biblical, and funny. To challenge you to think outside of what is comfortable and to learn from the things that others respond back with. I try hard to state plainly when it is an opinion and I try even harder to not offend, although that is virtually impossible. I do wish that some people would not get so uptight about things that are clearly one person’s opinion or even an attempt at humor. Humor is one of my favorite tools, no matter how lame the attempt.
My life has been a roller coaster of experience from one extreme to the other. Through it all, God has been very merciful and has not yet killed me for being stupid from time to time. Instead, He has allowed me to learn from my mistakes, given me an abundance of chances to change for the better, I hope. I believe that it is God that motivates me to share my life and thoughts through these blogs and I will do my best to always give Him the WOOHOO’s that He deserves.
Thanks again for reading. 2011 was pretty good, 2012 is going to be great!
I want to thank my friend for the question that spawned yesterday’s blog about cremation. It was one of the most responded to blogs I have ever had. Because of her suggestion I have to go into the witness protection program and see a therapist twice a week for the next couple of hours. Wow, who’da thunk it, that people were so passionate about something?
Blogs are a great tool for people to use to make others angry. That is not why I blog. I blog because my wife said I should. Okay, that is why I started, now I blog because I am an addict and can’t stop. But I do enjoy it. I try to be sensitive to the fact that people can get their feelings hurt pretty easy these days and will occasionally throw out something to get you thinking. But, I will never intentionally misrepresent what the Bible says nor will I intentionally say something that is offensive.
I was actually accused of misrepresenting what the Bible says about cremation. Of course no one took the time to give scripture to back their claim, but that’s okay, I am used to that. I really don’t think it would matter if there was a cut and dry verse that said the cremation was wrong, that would not change some people’s minds. It does not stop people from getting drunk, lying, or having sex outside of marriage. But my intent was not to sway anyone from being or having someone cremated. I was simply asked what I thought about it. I try to put my thoughts in line with the way I read the Bible. That is how I form most of my opinions, and yesterdays blog was my opinion, as I clearly stated in the opening.
I never said that it was wrong, sinful, or anti-Christian. What I said was no where in the Bible does a person who follows God get cremated as the preferred way of disposing of their bodies. I am NOT talking about anyone who was burned as torture and a hostile act. But there is nothing I can find in the Bible that says, Thou shalt not cremate. So if you want to be cremated or have someone you know cremated, I say burn baby burn!
One thing I do want to make clear is that my blogs are best understood by people who have very low IQ’s or, are on drugs. If you are not understanding where I am coming from, you must be extremely intelligent and/or sober. If you do understand my blogs and you are very smart and sober, or if you have sudden loss of hearing, vision or a rapid heartbeat, consult you doctor immediately as these my be signs that you should not be reading my blogs at all.
Seriously, though, I want to thank everyone who reads these things. I try to have a little fun when I can. I try to answer anyone’s questions when they are asked. I try to make it clear when I am giving an opinion over a fact, and I always try to be true to scripture. I always read your responses and appreciate them, so don’t stop.
Blogging is so much fun. I think it should be an Olympic sport. (Winter Olympics)
I am reading through the book of Hebrews in the New Testament now and this can be a challenging book to read and understand. I love it. I think it is one of the most important writings of the Bible because it clearly lays out the deity of Jesus Christ and our need to put Him above all else. The main theme that sums up Hebrews is this: Jesus is better. Better than angels, better than prophets, better than Moses, better than anything!
Every time I read it I am forced to rethink how I respond to being told that Jesus is better than anything. Most Christians will have no problem agreeing with that premise in word but we have a hard time agreeing with it in actions. So I want to challenge you to think about whether or not you truly believe that Jesus is better by how you live your lives. Trust me, I am only writing from experience in my own life. If we take this as a challenge and try to act on it in a positive way, there is no telling how God may turn around and show us His better side.
Let’s start with one that my wife will have to deal with. Jesus better than coffee
When we need to get our day started, do you reach for Jesus or make coffee? So often I hear that people don’t have time to read the Bible, the words of Jesus and His instructions for life, but we always have time to make coffee. Right now some are saying, not me, I drive through Starbucks to get my coffee. So is that not at least an extra 5 minutes? I am not a great reader and certainly not a speed reader, but I can read any number of Psalms and even a whole chapter of most books in 5 minutes. Jesus is better than coffee because He is the source of our strength and wisdom and if we drink from His word, we get eternal life, not life that ends in a crash ’cause the caffeine has worn off.
Jesus is better than Facebook.
I love Facebook. I love reading about people who are riding to work in heavy traffic and can’t handle the stress that comes from just getting to that job, much less that job. But let me ask you this, would it be better to risk your life to post on Facebook all your frustrations and risk crashing or would it be better to talk to Jesus, since you are not getting anywhere fast anyway? Maybe instead of telling the world about your problems, and they can only post something cute and sarcastic back, what about telling Jesus your cares and see if He responds. I am sure that what He will tell you will be better than what I may post on your wall.
Jesus is better than your opinion.
I know that we have all heard the opinions are like things we all have, however the problem is that often our opinions are based on what is popular and not what Jesus would really say if He was asked. We need to be ever mindful of the fact that the only time some people will ever hear from Jesus is when we are talking. So if what we are saying isn’t biblical, then it can’t help. We need to be more concerned with helping others than we are helping our own popularity. Jesus cares about others and wants us to share that care through giving better advice than when we preface what we say with “I know this is only my opinion, but…” So if you add another “t” to but and put a hole in it, you get the value of your opinion and Jesus is better than that.
Jesus should be the center of our lives. He is better than everything else, but what we think is that He wants us to give up everything else. I don’t think that is true. If we can make time for Jesus, He will make your coffee time better. If we make time for talking to Jesus, he will make those traffic jams seem better. If we will make our opinions less important than God’s word, Jesus will make our opinions better.
Jesus made me better by forgiving my sin and placing a new desire in my heart. I need to follow that desire and allow Him to continue to make the things I do better so that others know the He is better. But it is hard to believe that Jesus is better than anything when we act like anything is better than Jesus.