Last week, I took part in a conversation on Facebook about--what else?--the election. There were several commenters blaming Christians for Donald Trump and his merry band of bigots somehow managing to win. I pointed out that not all Christians voted for Trump and don't share the extremist beliefs of many of those who did support him. Several Christians responded by agreeing with me. One comment had a strong impact on me. The woman said she believed us, but pointed out that we need to keep saying it, keep telling anyone who will listen, just as Muslims have had to keep trying to convince the world that not all of them are radical extremists like ISIS or other terrorist organizations.
Her challenge stuck with me. When I saw the photo above, also on Facebook, I decided it is imperative that those of us who don't share the beliefs of those who are supporting racism, bigotry, fear, hate and persecution speak out.
I don't claim to have all of the answers. As I've said before, I have more questions than answers. Doesn't the Bible say man (which I take to mean all of mankind) is created in His image? Wouldn't that mean we're all equal, that one race is not better than any other? If one wishes to nitpick, wasn't Israel supposed to be God's chosen people?
Didn't Jesus tell us to love our enemies? Did He not respond to those who criticized Him for spending His time with sinners, tax collectors and other "undesirables" that the healthy don't need a doctor; the sick do? Did He not preach that we are indeed our brothers' keepers, telling the rich man to sell his belongings and give it all to the poor? Didn't He say it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God? Or do I have that all wrong?
As a Christian, I'm most certainly a work in progress. I still lose my temper, though not as easily as I used to. When God handed out patience, I must have slept in. I've distanced myself from people who might disrupt our hard-won peace and quiet (I guess that's selfish of me). Love thy neighbor is a tough one when you have next door neighbors like mine. I'm trying to change, but it's not easy. Good thing God doesn't expect us to be perfect.
As a voter, I often find myself conflicted, which explains why I can't vote along straight party lines. I'm really not liberal, but liberal causes like the environment and social programs that take care of the less fortunate are important to me. Healthcare for everyone and Social Security are important to me. As for gay marriage, that's none of my business. Not my lifestyle choice, but I'm not going to persecute anyone who is gay. I may not go march in Gay Pride parades, but if I were a caterer or a baker, I wouldn't refuse to bake a cake or do the catering at their weddings. I don't think we have to agree with anyone on everything to be friends with them--if we did have to, we'd all be pretty lonely. I confess, I'm not comfortable with sharing a public restroom with a man who's decided he's really a woman. I'm pro-life--but being pro-life shouldn't end with being opposed to
abortion. What good does it do to bring children into the world, only to
let them starve or be abused or abandoned? How can we turn away
families, children from war-torn countries who have nowhere to go? I
understand the fear of letting terrorists get in--no screening process
is foolproof. But I'm reminded of a conversation I had some years ago with a man from one area church who helped the homeless. I asked if he ever worried he was giving money to con artists.
His answer: "I'd rather be helping five people who didn't really need it than miss one who did."