Sex, religion, politics – funny how the most interesting topics are the ones we’re not supposed to address in polite company, that is, if we’re determined to keep things polite.
While most of the time I am prosaically non-confrontational, I jumped into a social media forum last week with less than my usual diplomatic aplomb, but seriously, the other guy started it.
(By the way, if you’re my mother and you don’t understand what I did, it’s as if I were passing by a group of people, overheard a total stranger’s comment to a distant acquaintance, and stuck my mouth in.)
I’d like to know if any of you could have resisted:
“I don’t know,” the guy moaned. “I don’t really have any opinion on any of the candidates or anything and I’m not up on any of the issues and I don’t know if I’ll get around to it, but if I ever do decide to vote, I’ll do it on Biblical principles.”
This guy is scary. Whatever Biblical principles he was nominally thinking of, I’m sure the average atheist would agree that they don’t encompass apathetic witlessness and passive illiteracy of oblivious thought, the latter an activity I engaged in when my fingers moved faster than my brain synapses to type:
“A major Biblical principle is to love your neighbor as yourself, and any politician who promises to stay out of our lives and let us live and let live is probably as close to Biblical principles as you can hope to get,” or something like that.
I don’t deny that I calculatingly tossed in that gauntlet, and it was no surprise when a sweetly religious woman lassoed me with a series of Bible verses, tying me up and trussing me like a chicken, but not so tightly that I couldn’t tap out a few gasping thoughts.
Do I never learn?
Within minutes she was back, shards of glass embedded in the rope this time, pretty much garroting me with a select choice of verses and her appropriate interpretations, forcefully instructing me that “live and let live” is not a phrase to be found in the Bible (I know that), unequivacobly bringing the “conversation” to a close with,
“This has been a nice discussion and God bless.”
I am eternally grateful – no pun intended – that I encountered and made my decision about Christianity before meeting people like this.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that Christians need to be in politics, or that they don’t need to be in politics, I’m saying that if people are going to take Christians seriously – in the political, social, commercial, private, and public arenas – then Christians need to be serious about
2) Listening to the ideas of others
3) Responding with grace and humility
4) Recognizing that we can disagree and promote our opinions without resorting to beating people into submission with words, platitudes and Bible verses
5) Accepting that it’s not our job to change the world, but in the lifelong process of allowing Christ to change and shape us, we will manage to do so despite ourselves
“God bless” is not a salutation or a sign off but a heartfelt wish for the wellbeing of the recipient’s soul, and it’s not very convincing coming from someone who has just made us feel small, unimportant, injudicious and irresponsible. End of conversation. This has been nice. God bless us all.
And social media sites are not the best platform for connecting with people – beyond a hopelessly superficial level – on key issues like sex, religion, and politics.
I wonder how long it will be before I grow up and learn this?