“Come let us reason together,” says God through his prophet Isaiah. In all matters of faith and conviction, God’s word is the ultimate judge and arbiter of what is right and what is evil. Those who follow His teachings should be able to have thoughtful, loving, reasonable discussions with others, even when we disagree. After all, it is not our opinions that matter; it’s what God says that counts. If we can agree on that, then we can reason together.
But we live in a society that has lost sight of the One who created us, and it has caused us to lose our way – we no longer have moral absolutes to guide our path. Everything – even truth – is relative. Everything is permissible, and no one is to be judged for their choices. Even those who believe in God and follow Christ are reluctant to stand on their convictions for fear of having Matthew 7:1 thrown in their face.
If anyone dares to try to invoke legal or religious objections to certain “hot button” issues, there’s little chance of turning to God’s word as the final word on the matter. Instead, we have virtual or real shouting matches, trying our best to browbeat the other side with our views, or at least win by TKO, delivering the most stinging zingers, and trying to inflict the maximum amount of pain on one another until we finally break away and retreat to our corners, bloodied, bruised, with enmity in our hearts.
Solomon gave us ample warnings of the futility in trying to reason with unreasonable people. As he begins the book of Proverbs, he admonishes us “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
And just a few chapters later, he puts it like this, “Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.”
In modern times, we’ve summed up the concept with a of dash humor:
And so for many of us who would like to share our faith with others in this sin-sick world, we hesitate to start the conversation or point out a friend’s transgressions, in part because we’ve seen what can happen and how quickly a relationship can be lost over opinions on faith, or someone’s rejection of it – whether in total, or just the parts they don’t like. We often sit on our hands or bite our tongues on certain topics, lest we be branded bigots and haters. It seems the world has forgotten that you have to love someone in order to care about their welfare, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. And in fairness to those who prickle up, sometimes Christians have forgotten that love for God and our neighbors should be the only motivator and guide for our speaking up.
The current kerfuffle over Chick-Fil-A is a case study of the depths to which we’ve sunk as a society. Chick-Fil-A is a company I’ve long admired, in large part for their willingness to close their doors every Sunday and give their employees a day to spend with family. Those in favor of homosexual marriage are incensed and outraged that a business owner (whose Christian beliefs are well-documented) would dare say that he supports traditional marriage. To which I would point out two things worth considering:
1. Mr. Cathy never said anything about gays, gay marriage or gay rights in the now-infamous interview. When a Baptist publication asked him for his opinion, he said he was in favor of traditional marriage. Shocking? Hardly. Controversial? Only if you were looking for a bone to pick.
2. Many businesses (Amazon and Target, to name two) are openly in favor of gay marriage and spend some of their corporate earnings to fund gay rights. Where is the hue and cry over them voicing their personal opinion in the public or using company funds to support either side of this debate? It’s a decidedly double standard by which we measure ourselves.
Irony of ironies, the group that has pleaded for tolerance for the past several decades has shown anything but when they meet with any level of resistance, even the most loving pleadings for a rational discussion. Mr. Cathy is apparently not entitled to his opinion on this matter, and neither are the rest of us, unless we are willing to lay aside our religious convictions and view this as a human rights issue on par with racial and gender equality. And for many Christians, we cannot in good conscience do that.
I hope and pray at some point, we can return to a place where those who hold opposing opinions can reason together, or at least not feel the need to fight to the death over issues that are – for some of us – not open for debate but were settled by a higher authority thousands of years ago. It is a hallmark of maturity when we can accept that no matter how badly we want something, and no matter how qualified we might think we are, we simply cannot have it. God’s ways are not our ways, and man’s laws often limit and restrict our abilities to attain happiness, too. If we can’t debate and discuss matters calmly and rationally, then let’s all just agree to stop before we stoop to name calling and ad hominem attacks. When we resort to those, we’ve lost the argument. And we’ve lost any chance of persuading anyone to our view.
As for me, I just strive to live peaceably with all, at least to the extent it depends on me, while also trying to live my life according to God’s principles and rules. I’ll do my best to show love to everyone (even if it means disagreeing – hopefully in a loving and humble way); tend my home and garden…and yes, I will eat some chikin every now and again.