A couple of weeks ago I read an inflammatory post on Facebook about the same-sex marriage debate. And it really upset me. This post was actually by one who is on the same political side as myself--that is, against same-sex marriage--yet the words written were so far from what I believe about how God sees His children and what I believe to be my role as His daughter. The post made me feel angry and sad and frustrated.
The bare-bones truth is that we disagree with people in life, all throughout life. And we need to find a way to interact with each other in a kind way, using discourse free from harsh, polarizing words. My stand on this issue is rooted in the doctrines of my faith, and I understand that not everyone shares that same belief system. Therefore, I can't expect everyone to understand why I believe what I do. I can't change that. What I can control, however, is how I speak with people who believe differently. Cruel and unfeeling rhetoric--on either side--gets us nowhere. It makes us angry and prevents our hearts from experiencing empathy.
I can't say that I know what the political and religious atmosphere will be in ten years when my children are attending school. I can't say that I know what hardships I'll face as a woman and mother of a faith whose beliefs differ from mainstream political correctness. But I do hope that there will be those who treat me with kindness. Yes, I believe that God's laws are unchanging and in the same breath I believe that God is merciful and that we may be surprised as to how far that mercy will be willing to stretch. My place is not one of judgment. My place is one that should be full of compassion.
The moment when my crusade as a believer excludes kindness from my words is the moment when I need to step back and focus on the crux of Christianity: grace, love, and empathy. If we want people to listen to what we have to say, the tenor of our words need to invite people to listen. When it comes to battling out beliefs, the softer voice will be heard far better and clearer than the one shouting. I have to believe that in that day when I stand face-to-face with my Maker that He will care far more about how I treated others--especially those who think differently from me--than about how political I was on Facebook.
PS This local Mormon leader is a shining example of a compassionate teacher.
PPS I wrote this post in 2012 on the same-sex marriage debate.
PPPS My church leaders use peaceful rhetoric in addressing gay marriage. My church created a website dedicated to fostering understanding and compassion on the issue. I'd love to personally continue this conversation if you'd like to email me.