Lately I’ve become more and more aware of the polarization within American politics. The Grand Canyon itself pales in comparison to the division between Republicans and Democrats at large. From what I’ve seen and heard, to be Republican means believing that all Democrats are horrible people ruining the world. To be Democrat means believing all Republicans are ignorant, religious fanatics. This picking of sides extends across our borders as well. The Israelis are either saints or devils, and the same goes for the Palestinians. We must choose whom we will love and support. We are told we must hate the others and heaven forbid anyone disagree with us. Gone are the days, if they ever really existed, that those representing both sides of the pendulum’s swing could work together to reach a compromise. No longer do the strengths of each come together to beautifully offset the weaknesses.
Unfortunately, this battle mentality infects every area of our lives. Scroll through your newsfeed on facebook, the photos on your Instagram, your Twitterfeed… what do you see? If you’re anything like me you see so many contradictions your head starts to spin. I’m not even married yet and I’m already being bombarded with why I need to homeschool my children, AND why I need to get them in public schools, with the occasional blurp about why private schools are the way to go. Don’t even get me started on breastfeeding, C-section vs. vaginal births, or epidurals. <<<Please excuse the following soap box. Can we just acknowledge that some women have no choice in these matters, and nearly all of them do what they truly believe to be the best for the child? Can we get rid of the “vs.” when discussing these issues and encourage the moms in our lives instead? I mean, let’s face it, being a mom is probably the toughest and messiest job on the planet. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a mom say that it’s easy, but I’ve heard plenty say it’s worth it. Do you hear that? It’s worth it. It’s worth the struggles. It’s worth wanting to rip your hair out. It’s worth the pain. But that also means the struggles and pain are real. Moms have enough going on already; they don’t need the blogosphere telling them they’re doing it wrong. I’ll step down from my soap box and return you to your original programming.>>>
The barrage of “opinions” doesn’t end with politics or parenting. I don’t have a boyfriend, but I’m told it’s wrong to postpone marriage. The next post on my feed tells me all of the reasons why I should wait to enter that sacred covenant. “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “I Gave Dating a Chance” are both real books. We are told to have a positive body image and then immediately told we need this or that diet and/or exercise program. I often feel like I need to grow my own produce, make my own soap, and never use medicine if I want to be a good woman.
There is SO MUCH PRESSURE today to be the person society wants us to be, but no one really knows what that means because society also glorifies individuality. This results in everyone setting out to defend themselves. What truly saddens me is the way these messages are presented. I am all for people having convictions and sticking to them, but I adamantly oppose attacking those with differing views. Most of the disputes listed above are subjective. One can choose either side of the debate without being in sin.
So why do we make it a debate at all? I sense that pride is the key issue here. Someone does something differently than we do so we’re scared we’re doing it wrong. We have to publicize all of the reasons why we’re “right” to be sure no one thinks less of us. Think of how different our society would look if, rather than being constantly defensive about everything, we began encouraging one another in our differences as we all do our best at this thing called life.
Let’s be honest though, there are some things that are not subjective. Some things are sin and sin should never be encouraged or even tolerated. It must be confronted. Far too often we end the sentence there. “Sin must be confronted.” We tend to leave off the “with grace and love” part. We judge, condemn, and criticize rather than pray. We delight in our “righteous indignation” with no concern for the soul of the sinner. And, yes, I am just as guilty as the next person in this regard.
Those who know me are probably aware that I’m not Obama’s number one fan. I don’t even have his t-shirt, but can you imagine what our nation would be like if all of the Christians (who, sadly, are so quick to declare their disdain for our President) all rallied together to pray for him? What if we all collectively decided we would never post/share/tweet another negative thing about him? What if Obama had a Josiah moment of understanding the truth of Scripture? Or an experience with Christ like Paul had on the road to Damascus? I fear most American believers would be so jaded against him that, rather than helping him tear down the idols and welcoming him into the family of God, we would be suspicious and hesitant to fellowship with him.
We must break through these lies that tell us the world only exists in extremes. We must fight for unity to furthest extent that we possibly can without compromising Scripture. We must stand firm in the truths set forth in the Bible, but act lovingly and mercifully with those who do not. We must realize that edifying one another is far more important than proving our point on trivial matters. We must remember that Christlikeness, and His glory are the ultimate goal. This must be our only extreme. If we pursue Christ and forsake sin to the extreme, we will see the frivolousness of the things of this world. We will see change. We will see revival.