Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Look Over the Wall (07/13/16)

"There are two sides to every story"

It's cliche. It's not something you want to think about. It's one of the snobby things people always try to push onto you. It's around to complicate matters.

But it's important.

Note: The following is not a blanket statement for what each side stands for. It is not a personal attack to either side. It's just to prove a point. It is realistic but complete fiction. Please excuse any poor word choices I use because I don't understand certain pieces of jargon.

Two parents stand on opposite sides of the room, glaring daggers at one another. The principal sits at her desk between them, trying to make peace. "Explain," she says.
"I refuse to let my child be excluded by her child because she doesn't identify with her biological gender!" says the first.
"You cannot force my child to work against his religion by playing with bad influences like her son!" says the second.
"She's not my son. She identifies as a female."
"He was born a male, so I will treat him as a male. As should you."
"You cannot force your ideas onto me! And she isn't a bad influence. She's just being expressive."
"He's seven. Your child is seven years old. He changes his favorite color every day. In a week he'll want to be a boy again."
"You don't know that. We've had long talks and she has shown genuine interest in identifying as a female now."
"You cannot force your ideas onto me either. Or my child. Your son cannot force my child to defy his religion to include your son."
The principal coughs. "Could we please take it down a notch? We're all adults here. Now what specifically happened?"
"Her son was playing with my daughter when...."

And so it continues. What should the principal say in a situation like that? Nothing can be said to the parents that will appease them. The spite between the parents is carried onto each child through muttered comments and stern conversations, and soon a good friendship is in ruins.

We trust authorities and judges to be able to decide who's the victim and who's the bully, but that isn't enough. Opposing sides build a wall to keep out the other side, and then they try to destroy each other through comments, lawsuits, and acts of hatred. Each side will only victimize themselves because they only see the chaos around them. They blame the people on the other side of the wall because they're unwilling to notice the chaos they've inflicted to evoke such a response. 

But what if we look over the wall? The truth is, most of the time that we argue over being forced into an action, we're being hypocritical. The parent above who is concerned about religion sees the other parent as infringing on her religion, not realizing that she's trying to force her views onto someone else. It's the very thing she's accusing the other parent of doing, and vice versa. 

And Christians, I don't believe we have to make the world Christian. We have to make a world of Christians. We don't do that by alienating others or treating them differently, but by love, mercy, and grace. When they see us not as the offenders but as people willing to listen and accept them, they see Christ at work within us and maybe they even decide to join us. That doesn't mean we should live like them. Romans 1 clearly shows God's disapproval of homosexuality for his people. 1st Corinthians 5 makes it clear that Christians should not invite wicked actions, but verses 12-13 remind us that it isn't our job to judge non-Christians for not being Christian. God is the one who judges, not us. (I highly recommend you look up both chapters and not just assume what I am saying is true.)

This isn't only true for just this issue. No one is obligated to live by another person's standards or rules. I believe every human's rights extend until right before they breach another's. You can own a car. You can own a house. You cannot steal someone else's car because they have the right to own their own car. Likewise, you have the right to let your child (or yourself for that matter) identify as someone against their biological orientation. You do not have the right to force others to go against their beliefs to accommodate you or your child. You also do not have the right to treat anyone negatively because they identify differently.

So try it. Look over the wall. Accept that both sides have faults, then identify them. Instead of relying on authorities to choose a victor and a victim, maybe try to make your own peace with the other side. If it works, it works. If not, realize you tried to make a difference. Let God do the rest. "If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18, NIV)

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