Don’t give holy things to dogs, and don’t throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will stomp on the pearls, then turn around and attack you.
~ Matthew 7:6, Common English Bible
I consider myself personally conservative and socially and politically progressive (or liberal) and I was thinking today about the accusation I frequently hear that “liberals” are intolerant of people who disagree with them. I respectfully disagree and think it’s an exaggeration and a stereotype, but I can understand why it could be true.
I’ve said before that it isn’t easy to be a disciple of Jesus Christ; you know – Jesus, who was a friend to religious leaders and sinners and the occupying Roman troops; Jesus, who said we should love our enemies and not judge; Jesus, who told us to take up our crosses and follow him and also said his burden was easy. Since “Christian” is the biggest piece of my identity I struggle to be faithful even when I’m conflicted, and lately, I’m seriously conflicted.
While I struggle to maintain friendships with people whose values are vastly different from my own, I wonder if I’m trying to follow Jesus’ example or just being cowardly and trying to avoid conflict – and God knows Jesus didn’t avoid conflict. I wonder if I’m betraying my friends who are Immigrants, Muslim, People of Color, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, or Disabled. It isn’t easy to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
It isn’t easy to listen to or read comments degrading an entire group of people, knowing that the people being disrespected are real human beings. It isn’t easy to listen to or read lies about an entire group of people, knowing that the people being lied about are real human beings – some of them my heroes. It isn’t easy to listen to or read jokes about a group of people, knowing that people I love are part of that group and have been deeply hurt by that kind of thoughtless “humor.”
So I’m trying. I’m trying to be patient. I’m trying not to cast my pearls before swine, but I’m also trying to remember the words of Professor Kathleen Greider, who said, “Respecting someone means believing that they’re capable of learning.” Most of all, I’m trying to be faithful, even when I’m not sure what that means.