Friday, February 27, 2009

More notes from my inbox

I opened my email today to find a forward from a Christian acquaintance. It was one of those petition requests from an organization bent on protecting the rights of Christians from the liberals and was all about legislation to protect gays from hate crimes, etc. They are certain that this legislation will in some way take away Christian's freedom of speech. This is not the first time these people have sent material from this group to me. I generally delete it after a glance, which is the same thing I do with the stuff my NRA loving, Obama-hating Dad sends.

You may or may not be aware of my inner struggle between what I believe is right (Biblically speaking) and the love of near and dear relatives who are gay and exactly what my response as a Christian should be. Until God answers my question I'm pleading the fifth on this one and concentrating on simply loving them for who they are. I'll face the subject when God gives me the opportunity and the words and not until then.

As stated here before, I tend to keep my opinions about controversial subjects out of other people's in boxes, unless you count what I think is funny or profound, or extraordinary and, even then, I'm pretty selective about who I send what. On principle, I do not forward petitions largely because online petitions are an act of futility with no legal weight whatsoever and I'm often amazed at the number of people who don't know this in this day and age.

But this email caught me on the wrong week. I'm in a housekeeping mood (read: fed up), which means I'm feeling positive and assertive and in the mood to fix things that are bothering me. So I reacted by writing a very respectful, friendly note explaining that, while I was always glad to hear from them, I didn't want anymore forwards from this organization. I confess I held the delete button down a bunch of times removing explanations and other verbosity in hopes that my point wouldn't get lost (That's what blogs are for, right?). Limiting myself to three sentences was hard, but I did it and I sent it off hoping this would put the subject to bed without upsetting them.

(Okay, in truth, I wouldn't actually mind if it upset them, if it would amount to them quietly going away)

Sadly it did neither. The acquaintance wrote an ostensibly friendly note back making understanding noises about how annoying and impersonal forwards can be, then proceeded to lecture me about my spiritual responsibility as a Believer to protect our rights from those who would take them away and how important it is to communicate this to others.

Yeah. That was better than a forward.


Debby said...

I know. I had a woman contact me via e-mail after reading a column about breast cancer. She was really very lovely and helpful. She also was quite certain that Obama's election was somehow tied in with the God's destruction of the world as we know it. After receiving a forward from her on inauguration day entitled 'the saddest day in our history', I sent her a note saying simply that we would have to agree to disagree on politics. Which sparked a deluge of this crap like you cannot believe. HUGE. I blocked her. Not for her beliefs, but for her lack of respect for mine.

Mary Paddock said...

And that is the problem I have--lack of respect for the idea that my opinion might be different than theirs. This particular couple has a big problem with this. I keep hoping that they'll out grow it, but so far I've seen little sign of it.

Hal Johnson said...

I get a number of those kinds of forwards too. I always wonder how church-going people can get on a high horse of condemnation. Did any of them actually read the Four Gospels?

Scotty said...

Interesting post, Mary - I've often wondered how some people reconcile a general 'live and let live' or 'be kind to others' attitude with what their faith may sometimes require of them, so I appreciate the difficulty of your position.

The thing I don't (and never will) understand is the argument presented by your acquaintance about protect our rights from those who would take them away - as far as I understood it, gays and lesbians are not trying to take anyone's rights away from anyone else; they simply want to have conferred upon them the same rights that so many others already enjoy, such as medical benefits, insurance, the chance to hold the hand of their loved one as they lie dying in a hospital bed, etc; if anything, it could be argued that it is acquaintances such as the one you mention who are trying to remove/refuse rights, not the other way around.

And it also ties in with what Debby said too, doesn't it? There are some people in the world who want (even demand) that their beliefs be respected and given credence while at the same time, failing miserably in granting that courtesy to others.

And ditto what Hal said about condemnation - 'judge not lest ye be judged' is how it's supposed to go, isn't it?

Again, interesting post, and thanks for sharing your thoughts (thanks to Debby and Hal too).

Mary Paddock said...

I've kind of wrestled with the WWJD thing, Hal. I think the big problem is that some Christians assume that all other Christians agree with them since we've all ostensibly embraced the same set of beliefs. Obviously, this is not so.

Scotty--Here's where I've finally gone with this question: It is not my job to pass judgment. That's God's department. It is my job to love them and everything I do and say must spring from that. I live by a particular set of rules that reflect my faith and expect those who live under my roof to do the same, beyond that--unless my opinion is invited, it's not given. I do spend a lot of time praying though. :)