by Tucker Morrow
I had a friend in College who was from Portland. She always talked about how crazy it was, and how liberal and “hipster” the culture was. She also said that it was the meth capital of the United States… I guess Heisenberg wasn’t around yet. She also told me about a local environmentalist group. This group was so in to protecting the environment that when they saw a large SUV or truck, they would key it. Unless I’m missing something, putting a scratch in the paint of a car does not make it more gas efficient. I think if my truck had ever been keyed, it would have made me want to go buy a super charged F350 with smokestacks, a lift kit, and any other feature that would produce more smog. Irrational? Yes. Environmentally responsible? No, but that is my knee jerk reaction. If I were confronted with that situation, I wouldn’t have a chance to consider the issue at hand, whoever keyed my car chose for me. They forced me into the opinion contrary to theirs because their actions made me an enemy.
Unfortunately, I think we do this entirely too much as a society, specifically in the church. We force people deeper into their own opinions by alienating and attacking them, and then we vindicate them for not holding to Christian ideals. Think about every hot button issue, when someone stands on the other side of it, we attack them about their beliefs. When we attack someone because of what they believe, we give them no choice but to hunker down in what they currently believe, and fight back. We use any excuse we can to run to our corner, and send people with a differing opinion to their corner and then fight it out. Don’t get me wrong, liberals do this just as much as conservatives, and atheists just as much as Christians.
I believe one of the reasons for this is that our society is fairly closed-minded. We stay in our corner, send other people to theirs, and neither of us will even hear the other viewpoint. We also don’t seem to have a solid understanding of the term open-minded. Believing that homosexuality is absolutely not a sin is not being open-minded, believing that homosexuality is not a sin, but being able to tolerate, and even think about differing opinions, is open-minded. Open-mindedness does not mean you are not sure of what you believe, it also doesn’t mean you’re weak or you admit you’re wrong, it means you are able to hear and entertain differing opinions from your own. We usually use the term “open-minded” to refer to what we believe, and “closed-minded” to refer to what others believe. If we are expecting other people to listen to our viewpoints, we need to be able to listen to the viewpoints of others.
For some reason, we tend to think it is our job to correct people’s behavior. We speak to behavior, not to people. We don’t have compassion toward the person who holds the opinion, we disagree with the opinion so we extrapolate that to generally disliking the person. We turn the person into their belief, and dehumanize them to where when we think about that person, the only thing that comes to mind is their differing opinion. Jesus rarely spoke to somebody’s behavior or opinions first. Jesus spoke to them as the incredibly valuable and precious creation that they were. He was motivated by love. Jesus wasn’t intimidated by opinions contrary to His, but He embraced the people who held those opinions and told them He would love them whether they changed their mind or not. That is how we are supposed to handle conflict, with love. I didn’t decide to follow Jesus because I was out-debated and had no choice but to agree with my morally superior adversary. I decided to follow Jesus because Doug Tigtig and DJ Frewin followed Jesus, and they loved and supported me no matter how dumb the opinion I had or decision I made was.
It’s okay to have an opinion that differs from someone else’s. It’s even okay to have a different opinion than someone else on huge societal issues. What’s not okay is to vilify a person because they believe differently than you. Let’s stop keying the cars of our opponents, and treat them with love. I think we’ll be surprised at the result.