I have opinions. Tons of opinions. Very strongly held opinions.
Image by treviño via Flickr
And I get paid for sharing those opinions. So I tend to constantly be thinking about things in terms of right and wrong, should and shouldn't, what works and what doesn't. I find it difficult just to think about issues without trying to fix them, or see them from almost political or religious angles.
I'm also a very strong Christian, so I tend to measure everything in terms of what I believe God wants or things--which is a good thing. The problem is that I'm also a very political person, with strong political views about most issues. And because I can see these issues in terms of black and white, right and wrong, I tend to equate my political and religious views.
I know that's wrong, but it's a tendency I have, and I always have to push myself to say, "good Christians can disagree about this issue." I honestly do believe that, but I still find it curious when Christians hold positions that are completely the opposite to mine. For instance, I strongly believe in welfare reform, because I think that giving people something for nothing does not encourage people to turn to God; it encourages laziness and all sorts of negative things for society and children. Besides, one can only truly repent when one sees the repercussions of one's actions. If one doesn't think one has done anything wrong, how can one repent? But so much of the entitlement society moves against anyone seeing that they have done wrong, because they begin to think "I deserve this".
I also believe strongly that most Christians should give until it hurts, but I don't think that government necessarily should be involved in a lot of charity. I think most foreign aid ends up hurting countries, while personal aid through NGOs helps.
I don't actually want to argue about welfare or charity; I'm only trying to say that most of my political views also come out of my understanding of God. And I think that's natural.
The problem that I often get into, though, is that I know and love many very strong Christians who have exactly opposite views from me. My response has been to simply never, ever talk about anything in their presence which might be a source of difficulty in our relationship. So I don't go near Israel, or welfare, or health care, or crime and punishment, or other subjects remotely like that. We don't talk taxes, or politics, or elections.
Or I should say, I don't talk about them. But I have several people close to me who insist on bringing all these things up, and speaking about them as if it's obvious to everyone what the Christian answer is. I've had people say to me in my home that oen can't be a Christian if one doesn't believe in completely socialized medicine.
So how do I handle that? I would prefer we just agree to disagree and focus on the things that unite us, but it seems that just isn't going to happen. And I'm always feeling a judgment that I am less Christian because I support the Conservative party in Canada, for instance.
Don't tell me to just get rid of the relationships, because for various reasons I can't get into that's not possible, and I don't want to. I sincerely love these people. But I find our interactions increasingly strained, like I'm always walking on eggshells.
Image by SheilaGregoire via Flickr
It's not that I can't hang out with people of different political or religious viewpoints, either. Later this year my husband and I are leading a team of 25 to a Kenyan orphanage, and most of them, I would think, would fall far away from me on the political spectrum. But we get along great, because we focus on what we do well together.
What do you do when you have a person who refuses to do this? Any suggestions? Have any of you ever dealt with this with your families or at work? I'd love to know!
Labels: politics, social issues