Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reasons Why I No Longer Argue About Politics and Religion

A fish out of water; swimming upstream; floundering around; up a creek without a paddle.  The fish/water metaphors abound, don't they?  I'm not sure why all of these sayings came to my mind today since I neither fish, nor swim, and the one time I tried to paddle a boat it was an epic failure, but come to my mind they did, all the same.

I suppose it's the theme of the analogies that caught my mind.  They all seem to convey some sort of confusion, dysfunction or battle.  All the phrases sum up how I feel lately.

With the election date closing in on us, more people than ever are expressing their ideals and beliefs in regards to politics.  Never before, in history, have, we the people, been instantly able reach hundreds or thousands of people with only a few keystrokes of a computer keyboard.  Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest can all be used, not only to convey what you like about your side of the political aisle, but also condemn those on the other.

I've never been one to have thick skin.  I feel things deeply and I get emotionally invested in things that are meaningful to me.

Herein lies the rub.  As a Christian, living in Texas, I am swimming upstream when it comes to my political views.  I've learned, over the years, that I am in the minority as a Christian Democrat (yes, it is possible to be both), and for the most part, even though I do feel strongly about my convictions, I've been able to coexist with my friends and family who have diametrically opposed views.

This political season, however, the deluge of daily, nay, hourly, political pontificating is making my head swim (yet another water metaphor).  I just want it to STOP.

No one is ever going to change someone else's mind by posting a political ad or commentary on their FB or Twitter page.  I learned the hard way that expressing one's opinions in that realm only invites people to debate the point.  In the past, I've been willing to debate my points, after all, I did open myself up to a debate by posting my view.

My willingness to put myself out there for scrutiny changed a couple of weeks ago, when, not only were my views called into question, but also, my faith, when I was asked to back up my politics with scripture.

 I was flabbergasted at the request (as I had no asked the same of the dear friend with whom I was talking), but complied by giving a few references that I believe upheld my beliefs.  That wasn't enough for this person, though, because the argument continued, with questions of doubt about my interpretation of the scriptures.

Sadly, it's not the first time I've been told I was wrong; that I interpreted things incorrectly, or that my soul was in jeopardy because I'm not a Republican (no, seriously, I'm not kidding).  That's happened many times, from many sources, over the years. I have argued, debated, and argued some more, but, I never question anyone else's relationship with their God.

I understand that theologies (nor political agendas) do not a relationship make.  I know that God is bigger than our differences.  I find it disheartening, and more than a tad hurtful, that the same level of respect is not always reciprocated.

So, no, that wasn't my first encounter with opposition, but it definitely was a different encounter.  Or, at least, my reaction to it was.  In that moment, I understood that there was NOTHING I could say that would satisfy my opponent (friend?).  Her mind was made up and that was that.  I was spinning my wheels to even continue the conversation, so I didn't.

Since then, I have censored myself about anything remotely political or theologically controversial.  I guess I got tired of swimming upstream against the tide.  I probably will be pulled under the tow, from time to time, because I do have pretty strong views. Those views, however, aren't just off the top of my head quips, but rather, part of my very being, so it is hard for me to express myself without using these ideals as a yardstick.  Perhaps that's why it hurts when I'm questioned or brushed off.  I take it personally because it is personal to me.

In the interest of peace and harmony, at this time, I will endeavor to stick to less controversial subjects. In the end, I love people more than politics, and God more than theology, so I'm attempting to wade into calmer waters and work on growing my relationships instead of wearing myself out floundering around and getting nowhere fast.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. ~Colossians 3:13-15