This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Today's post is not funny.  It is not meant to be funny.  It will not be universally accepted.  It may even offend some of you.  But I hope that you will respect the fact that these are MY opinions and beliefs.  And I hope that it will make you think.

Bullying is a very hot topic these days.  Michigan just passed a law, or an amendment to a law, or something that says (according to the media and every liberal friend on Facebook) that it is okay to bully someone as long as you do it with your religious beliefs as a basis.  That isn't really what the law says.  The law says that if my religion says that something is a sin, then I have the right to say that as well without being accused of bullying as long as I don't direct it at an individual or group.  If I am a Muslim, I can say "According to Allah, pork is unclean, and therefore those who eat are unclean" as long as I don't say "Hey Brian, you are going to spend an eternity in hell because you're eating those pork rinds and are an infidel."  Or I can say "According to the Bible, sexual immorality is sinful."  As long as I don't say "Hey Jane, you are going to hell because you're not a virgin and are therefore an abomonation to the Lord."  Opponents of the law, mostly the liberal left, are foaming at the mouth over the wording of this bill that they claim gives kids, teachers, and administrators a blueprint for bullying as long as they hide behind their religion of choice.  I disagree. 

I see a bigger problem. 

What this law does is further polarize the public.  If the law is left as it is, extremists will, in fact, use it as a platform to promote hate through religious beliefs (like the idiots at Westboro Baptist Church).  If it is changed, then the lawmakers have essentially gagged everyone of faith from expressing themselves and their beliefs openly, therefore infringing upon their right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech.  Unfortunately, those who are most directly effected are the Christians.  Christ was against bullying -- He "spoke the truth in love" but he was never cruel.  What this bill has tried to do is give that right to individuals who follow Him -- the right to speak the truth in love.  But how do we determine what is spoken in love and what is spoken out of hate?  We cannot.  So the lawmakers tried to put into the law a way to prohibit bullying while still allowing for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  There is no way to accommodate both sides effectively because we have a separation of church and state.  We cannot enforce the "laws" of religion (ie saying that you can only speak out against something if you do so out of love) because the government has no authority to do so.  You cannot define in a legal way what is done out of love or strong moral conviction and what is done with malicious intent.  The members of Westboro baptist Church do not think of themselves as hateful.  They do what they do because they believe in it.  I disagree with them.  I do not know how they reconcile what they do with what is in the Bible, but the point is that THEY believe in it. 

This law in Michigan has a great intent, but now it has become bogged down in legal rhetoric.  How do you defend freedom of speech and freedom of religion while prohibiting differing opinions to be spoken out loud for fear that someone might be offended?  You cannot.  How do we, as adults, parents, teachers and role models, empower our kids to be themselves and stand up for their beliefs while punishing them for doing so?  We cannot.  How can lawmakers say that every one's feelings are valid but  that only certain groups are allowed to express them?  They cannot.

We have painted ourselves into a corner, so to speak.

Here in Texas, where I live, a student was recently suspended because he was having a one-on-one conversation with another student and stated that he was a Christian and believed that homosexuality was wrong and the teacher overheard him.  He was yelled at, written up, sent to the office, and suspended.  For stating his personal belief to a friend.  There was no anger, or malicious intent, or what could even be considered judgement since it was a statement not related to any individual but just in a private conversation.  To me, that is bullying by the system.  A biology teacher in California last year won a $100,000 settlement after she was fired for answering a student’s question by citing research that homosexuality “may be influenced by both genes and the environment.”  That is bullying by the system.  At the University of Illinois in July 2010, school officials fired a Catholic theology teacher after he asserted that homosexuality was, according to Catholic teaching, contrary to the moral law. Prof. Kenneth Howell, who had simultaneously lost his position at the Catholic Newman Center on campus, was reinstated days later after thousands protested.  That is bullying by the system.  Also in 2010 news broke of the story of a counseling student at Augusta State University, who, after her professors learned of her Christian beliefs on homosexuality, was told to attend workshops to improve her sensitivity towards homosexuals, to complete remedial reading, and to write papers describing the impact of such measures on her beliefs, as a condition of continuing in the program.  That is bullying by the system.

The religious fanatics in our country have long been accused of committing the very sins that they speak out against because they take it to extremes -- they don't just say that this or that is wrong, but they take on the judgement portion that is reserved only for God by saying that this person or group of people are wrong and their passion and anger over it bleeds into their treatment of that group often with a violent end.  Now the liberal left seems to have joined them in their hypocrisy.  You cannot advocate freedom of speech and freedom of religion if you are unwilling to allow those laws to apply to everyone.  If it is okay for one person to be openly gay, then it must also be okay for another person to openly say "I believe that this is a sin."  It becomes problematic when any person is prevented from being able to speak their mind, no matter what their belief is and no matter whether they're a member of the majority or the minority.  Violation of a person's First Amendment rights is problematic, no matter who they are or what they stand for.

So what is my solution?

Well, I think that the only thing you can do here is to NOT make the wording of the law more specific, but to make it more general.  Give those tasked with enforcing it more lattitude to interpret intent on an individual basis.  For example, if a kid says "I am a Christian and I believe that homosexuality is a sin" but he doesn't stand up and single out or threaten any one person or group, then that is not bullying.  It is not hate.  It is allowing that student to do what we push kids to do -- stand up for his beliefs and to do so in the face of adversity.

As a society, we have taken the stance that every lifestyle choice is valid.  We want everyone to feel loved and accepted.  No one wants to offend anyone.  We want everyone to like everyone else and get along in our country.  This. Is. A. FANTASY.  We have been advocating "acceptance" when we should have been advocating tolerance and respect.  Acceptance of something that you or your religion, culture, or morals oppose involves a compromise of your beliefs.  Tolerance of something does not.  I can respect your opinion and your right to that opinion without accepting it.  We want people to fell free to be who they are, to stand up for their beliefs, to speak up and speak out against what they believe is wrong but in the same breath we tell them not to offend anyone.  Do you see the problem?  I am a Christian who tries to live by what the Bible teaches.  Yet, I have friends who are openly homosexual, friends who are Jewish, friends who are Muslim, friends who are Hindu, friends who are Bhuddist, friends who are Wiccan and friends who are athiest. And I can have intelligent conversations about morals and religion with all of them because we respect and tolerate each other's beliefs not because we accept them.  Bullying could be virtually eradicated by enforcing a stricter policy of a universally accepted and morally benign concept of respect. If we pushed for respect of opinions and beliefs instead of acceptance of them, then tolerance would be a given.


Everyone cannot be "right."  If you cannot have a civil, intelligent, conversation with someone who lives a lifestyle different from what you believe is "right" then how do you function in the world?

9 comments:

MoonShadow said...

Not offended in the least. Well thought out and spoken. ;)

Candi said...

The problem here is that everyone thinks they are right and others are wrong. I agree, tolerance does not equate acceptance and that is what we should be teaching our children. I try very hard to teach that to my son who is VERY anti-homosexual. I tell him that we hate the sin, not the person. It's a scary place to be in, to be bullied. Both by the system and by an individual. I don't know what the answer is.

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian. I try to live my life according to what is written in the Bible, which I believe comes from God. The Bible is my guide book. For a long time, I felt that I was failing as a Christian because I was not publicly protesting abortion or homosexuality or many of the other things that are in conflict with Biblical principles. But as I studied the Bible more carefully, I realized that it gives direction for ME. It gives direction for approaching moral infractions among my brethern in Christ. It tells me to not be influenced by the world. My duty as a Christian is to share the gospel, but it is NOT my duty to enforce it. If a brother or sister in Christ was living a sexually immoral lifestyle, then according to the book of James, I am obligated to confront them in love with their sin. My responsibility ends there. God is the judge, not me. If you are not a Christian, then you do not recognize the authority of the scripture. I might as well quote the rules of Monopoly to you as quote scripture because in your life there is no scriptural authority. As a Christian, my role with the rest of the world is limited to being an example and reaching out to share the gospel with those who do not know it. Hopefully, I am a good example. Hopefully, my life as a Christian will make others curious and more open to hear about God. The Bible says "They will know you are Christians by your love." Spouting hate-filled judgement does not demonstrate the love of God, and therefore is not Christian.

Anonymous said...

I am a gay athiest. I am not offended by this post. I think that I will share it with as many people as I can get to read it. I may print it up and put it on windshields in random parking lots here in Michigan. I respect your right to believe what you want and to voice your opinions and I think that what you have done here is effectively illustrated how that is not only possible, but applaudable. Bravo.

Sara M. said...

Im not offended at all, lol. Im glad someone finally set it out there. As long as no one is being physically abusive, I dont really see it as Bullying... per se. There is such a thing as talking/poking fun, and folks without a sense of humour... To me, if you know what you are doing isnt right, then its between you and God. If you dont know its wrong, there are plenty of people in the world who will tell you exactly why and how. Westboro could use a lesson in tolerance... Respect and tolerance should be taught from the time children are small. Reguardless of race, religion, creed, or sexual preferrence. Thank you for that. We will be pimping you ASAP. <3

LeAnn said...

Also not offended. I consider myself to be a believer in God, but I do not label myself as a Christian, Catholic, Baptist, etc. In my opinion, people consider themselves to be a certain "thing" and with that they follow certain rules and beliefs. Those rules and beliefs become embedded into their core values and negate how they live thier life. Fine. Great. It becomes a problem when they cross paths with someone (or group) who does not share in those same beliefs, and that difference of lifestyle if you will, is seen as a personal attack without even an insult or opinion being stated. For example, if I was in a gay relationship and I came across a person who I knew was opposed to gay marriages/relationships, I would immediatley assume that this person thought I was a sinner and was going straight to hell. I could do one of two things, without provocation immediatly scream and yell that I was right and they were wrong. Or, I could accept that they feel or believe differently than me and unless I was being personally attacked, just leave it alone. Because personally, their belief doesn't directly affect me and what I believe in.

LeAnn said...

So basically (yes I logged back on), and excuse my reference to color, I'm only using it to make my point, there is black and white. In between there is gray, gray being the differences between the two. Those differences should not be taken personally by either side. I wish this could happen but it does not. Out of those differences comes personal attacks and judegements and that's where you have people trying to incorporate laws to try and appease both sides. You can't.

Counting Caballeros said...

Candi, you are correct -- everyone believes that they are right and others are wrong. What I find funny is that we all seem to want our beliefs to be validated by everyone else. I know that I do! I write a blog hoping that others will validate my opinions. The difference is that I respect the opinions of those who don't agree with me. Immaturity says "I'm right, you're wrong, and if you don't think just like me then we can't be friends." I still catch myself with those thoughts sometimes, but I usually stop myself from speaking them out loud and that is demonstrating maturity and respect. Respect says "I recognize your belief as valid, but I disagree." When the respect is there, then you are able to have civil dialouge with someone whose beliefs and values could be polar opposites of your own. I agree with "Annonymous" who said that our responsibility as Christians is to our fellow Christians and to share the Word with those who do not know it. How can we do that if we approach with hate and judgement? I do not believe that it is possible.

veryverybusymom.com said...

You're preaching to the choir here. My creed is love and tolerance - both in what I say, and in what I hear. I try to have a good sense of humor about most things, so I may mistakenly come across as sexist or racist when I truly am not, and I have to frequently monitor myself as to the correct place, time and company where I can joke around with seemingly taboo topics. Still, there are jokes that cross the line for me - pedophilia for instance - and I don't find them funny. As for bullying - that's something I have absolutely no tolerance for. Mean-spirited teasing, taunting, and forcing unwanted beliefs on others is certainly not something my God wants me to do. I'm still idealistic enough to believe that we can agree to disagree and have a healthy respect for others' beliefs.

You are very brave for bringing up such a controversial subject.