Tag Archives: Focusing on that which we agree

There needs to be continuing dialogue on religion and homosexuality. But can we agree on what the conversation is about?

What is love?

There may be as many definitions or interpretations as there are people on the planet. Some seem to think that it means giving those you love anything they want. Some seem to think that unconditional love is telling family members that we support and approve of whatever they do. Today, more than ever before, many people seem to think that love must be accompanied by intense sexual desire and satisfaction. If we start to feel admiration or attraction to be with someone, then there must be a sexual component that has to be acted on.

And we call that love.

I don’t really agree with any of those definitions. You might. If you do, I respect your position and feelings. Because to me, that would be part of loving you.

But I still don’t agree with those positions or feelings. Both loving and disagreeing can exist at the same time.

Is love easy?   Continue reading There needs to be continuing dialogue on religion and homosexuality. But can we agree on what the conversation is about?

Liberation through legislation?

Depending on the day, I can be known to enjoy some of the news channels. It isn’t too hard for me to get pulled into the story. Pretty soon as I putter around the house I am talking out loud, presenting my side of the argument and anticipating possible responses.

Some days, however, I have to just turn off the news and escape all the rhetoric and fighting. When I get to where I can almost anticipate before the person answers just what sound bites will come out, having had their party affiliation posted across the bottom of the screen, I know it is time to step back.

Often, they don’t even answer the question they have been asked, opting instead to just jump right into the prepared statement that defends their position and demeans the opposing side.

I guess it makes good content for the networks and the advertisers must love it. If it didn’t make money, we can be sure it wouldn’t continue to happen.

If it makes for good content and the advertisers love it, then that must mean that we are eating it up and supporting it.

I wonder why? Continue reading Liberation through legislation?

How come we search for a heavenly society while excluding heaven?

While working in the yards today I had my IPod going in my ears, as usual. Work is always a little better with songs that make your heart sing a bit, or your toe tap a bit, or put a bit of a spring in your step.

music

You know what I mean.

At any rate, I noticed a theme in the songs. By the third one in a row with the same message, I stopped to actually listen and let the words soak in.

Each singer was wistfully searching for a society where we were all kind to each other, where we didn’t harm each other, where everyone was being taken care of by everyone else. But the tone of the music and the melancholy voices made it all seem like a pipe dream – something we all wish for, but know it just can never be.

I stopped right there in the middle of the backyard and asked “Why not?”

Why do we harm each other?

Why aren’t we kind to everyone?

Why don’t we look out for the needs of those around us? Continue reading How come we search for a heavenly society while excluding heaven?

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Anyone who knows me can state that I am a bit naïve, my wife being number one on the list. I didn’t even know we were dating for months. You can imagine the dumbfounded look on her face when someone commented and I turned to her and asked “Oh, are we dating?”

It’s kind of amazing that we are now such a happy family.

Over the years, I still have my moments where it is obvious that I have been flying under the radar and not clearly grasping reality around me. It’s part of the magic of being me.

At least, that is what I tell Ann.

But I feel like I am going through a bit of a learning curve lately.

I watched a presentation by a man with a PhD on “what Mormons believe.” I listened carefully and, even though it was pretty obvious he thought the beliefs were outrageous, he had probably more than 90% of it right.

In my naiveté I found myself asking the screen, “Why doesn’t that make sense to you? It makes perfect sense to me.”

Then I did some reading on what others feel that it means to worship the Savior Jesus Christ, to take His name upon us, and to be a Christian.

I will admit my jaw kept hitting the desktop.

Really?

Really??

I guess the situation had now completely reversed and I was like the man with the PhD. Even with an understanding of the technical aspects of his beliefs, it felt so foreign to me.

We should have been the same; yet we really couldn’t have been more different.

Here’s another thought.

While talking about this same thing Sunday morning, our daughter made an incredibly insightful comment. She said that there are many people of the Muslim faith who are good, kind people who are simply trying to help their fellow neighbor. There are people of the Jewish faith who are filled with love and make the world a better place each day. We can go around the world and find people everywhere who live lives worthy of emulation.

They exhibit behavior that is very, well, Christ-like. Very Christian.

Kind of a topsy-turvy world.

Christians telling other Christians that they aren’t in fact Christian. Non-Christians behaving Christian.

My little naïve mind could probably burst at the confusion of it all.

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Obviously there is not just one perception out there; there are many.

It made me wonder, what is my perception? What is my understanding of what it means to be a Christian?

Am I offended or angry when someone who doesn’t know me, has never met me, tells me that I am not a Christian?

I took the time to let this go through my head and bounce around a while.

All I could come up with is, no, I’m really not offended at all.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time worrying about it.

But maybe I’m not asking the right question.

Am I offended or angry when someone who knows me, has worked with me, has watched me through the years, tells me that I am not a Christian?

This is a harder question.

No. I am not offended or angry.

I am ashamed.

And I think I have a little better understanding of what it may actually mean to be a Christian.

The Savior Jesus Christ is real. He lived. He lives.

To behave, as closely as we can, as he behaved, as he behaves, takes a lifetime.

There will be days that you watch me and witness things that I am not very proud of. On those days, I wouldn’t deserve to be counted among those who profess to follow His example.

We all have those days.

Perhaps part of being a Christian is not focusing on each other when we stumble, but rather holding out a hand and helping each other to stand back up.

 

To all the Christian-behaving Muslims, and Christian-behaving Jews, and Christian-behaving Buddhists, thank you for the example you show in helping us to be better Christian-behaving Christians.

There is a lot of good out there. Maybe through looking at each other with compassion and gratitude, it will help us to see ourselves as we hope to be.

And people won’t be so worried about what each other is or isn’t, but will just want to be more like Him.

That’s a win for everyone.

I can’t choose for you; you can’t choose for me. So who makes the choice?

Compared to world history, in the short 238 years that the United States has been the United States, we have changed dramatically. Other nations seemed to go on for centuries with relatively little differences. Of course, the industrial age and the unfathomable rate of technological discoveries have affected everyone in unanticipated ways.

I wonder what our founding fathers would tell us if they were able. Maybe the more important question is, would we even listen?

Probably not.

We have become in large part a society where we each belong to a subgroup that feels that we know exactly what is best, where the right line is to draw in the moral sand, and what should be seen as unacceptable.

And we know that it should be that way for everyone.

Those who don’t see things from our point of view or embrace our solutions are just too stupid to know anyway, so let’s go ahead and make the decisions for them. After all, we really do know what is best.

Our founding fathers may be surprised to read through all the laws that are on the books. It may be a good thing they are dead, as it would probably take more than a natural lifetime to even get to them all.

Close your eyes and imagine them sitting around a table.

“Why do they need all these laws?”

“Most of these things are just common sense; you just do them because it is the right thing to do.”

“It seems like they have lost the ability to think for themselves.”

“Or it seems that the government has decided that it is a better thinker than the common man.”

“Generally it is the voice of the majority that keeps the logical common sense, not the few who are in power.”

“What kind of a mess have they gotten themselves into?”

“Is this what we worked so hard for?”

Of course, I could be wrong. They may be watching and doing a jig and saying that this is exactly what they had in mind when they drafted the constitution.

But I don’t think it is very likely.

I’ve thought a lot about it and it seems to boil down to some simple but disastrous pitfalls.

One would be that we’ve reversed the accountability direction on the responsibility to choose.

It seems that I want to choose for you. I know what is best and you just need to agree with me. I just don’t want to have to make a definite decision and choose for myself. No matter what, I want a way out if I don’t like how things go.

That sounds like a pretty tempting plan at first glance. I don’t have to really choose for myself because I can blame anything that doesn’t go my way on you and then make you pay for it through a lawsuit. Who knew that pain and suffering was really worth millions and millions of dollars? The best part is that I get to stand up and tell you how all of us must do things my way, and if you don’t see how this is the best way, then you really are stupid.

Sounds like a first grader’s dream.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to stay in first grade past the age of six. We are expected to learn and progress and grow and become an adult.

How are we doing? It seems that there are an awful lot of playground skirmishes and bullying going on among those who are 30, 40, 50, and so on.

The truth is that we have to understand just how important it is to choose. To choose for ourselves.

I am responsible for the choices I make. You are responsible for the choices you make.

Now, how do we somehow manage to live together, knowing that we have made different choices?

It is interesting to read and listen to debates and arguments over exactly this question. Each side has their “talking points” that seem to come up in each conversation; you can almost say out loud what they are going to say before they say it. It seems to be the same argument each time. I guess the way you tell if someone won was if they were the last to repeat their slogans or spoke more loudly over the other person.

Why is there no movement in the conversation toward a solution?

Is it because we refuse to listen?

I think so.

Is it also because we are trying to use reason and logic to somehow mathematically score more points and win the fight?

Yet some of the things that we are fighting the most about don’t seem to be based in logistics and figures. They are based in feelings and beliefs.

We are trying to change each other’s minds, while we are actually talking about matters of the heart.

The court suit being fought right now over the issue of same-sex marriage is a pretty good example. I’ve read the arguments and statistics on both sides. Each proponent has done a lot of research and has made it very academic, proving how their view is correct.

But for me it is very simple: I believe that God has told us through His prophets that marriage is the most amazing and wonderful gift and is to be between a man and a woman. I know that my marriage has brought me more joy and happiness and self-esteem and friendship and security and hope and on and on and on, than anything else I have done in my life. I don’t really need to go any further than that. I know in my heart and my soul that this is right.

There really isn’t a logical argument that is ever going to change what I know deep within.

Obviously there are good people who believe that same-sex marriage is right.

So, what do we do?

Well, I don’t think that we spew anger filled venom at each other in words and actions. I don’t think we treat each other like vermin and say that I won’t hire you or work with you or let you live near me. I don’t really think protesting or parading around and shoving one lifestyle in another’s face will help.

Popular or not, my view is not going to change. Not because I am stubborn or mad or vindictive. It’s because I am at peace with it. I see it as truth. Truth is truth.

There are many truths.

I also see as truth that extra marital affairs are wrong. I see as truth that creating a child out of wedlock is wrong. I see as truth that a date does NOT consist of sexual intercourse.

There was a time that the majority also saw these as truths. Yet society now fully accepts that each of the above is not only acceptable, it is understandable and just a part of being an adult.

How did we get growing up so wrong?

Perhaps now it is a little easier to see why I am so deeply concerned that, yet again, another huge chunk is being taken out of the moral granite that made our nation the world’s leader.

I think we have to be realistic and ask ourselves, what will be next? Because past experience tells us that we won’t stop here, just like we didn’t stop with extra marital affairs but moved on to having children out of wedlock and dating being a sexual free for all.

I have to choose for me. You have to choose for you.

And we all have to live together after the choices have been made. Hopefully we will make the choices now that will allow us all to keep choosing what matters most tomorrow.