Having grown up being raised to be liberal, feminist, democrat loving, at least allowing abortion for “rape babies” and the dreaded but rarer “incest baby”, I was also raised on the crazy idea of “open-mindedness”.
Oh yeah, I just called open-mindedness crazy. Somebody contact the Politically Correct Police to come lecture me for days on end with crappy Lifetime Movies straight from Dish Network.
Let’s set the record straight: I’m all for reading and discussing just about anything. I’m no more afraid of the words “anal sex” than I am of the words “presidential debate”, although both give me cause for almighty face-palms.
However, I’m not a fan of what “open-mindedness” has done to absolutely destroy Christian unity. And by Christian unity I am including those of the Protestant persuasion, the non-denominationals, and even the non-non-non-denominationals – basically anyone who believes in the basic tenets of Christianity (the Bible, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, etc…). Unfortunately, what once meant an ability and willingness to see the other side of an argument or belief has now come to mean the ability and willingness to take a big lump of religions and sects and mush them all together and eat it like the junk food that it is.
In short, its that most annoying of ideas “relativism”. Relativism is that annoying man-boy in your college classes who will swear up and down that its “wrong” to believe in a God, or in a God who defines right and wrong, but then will turn around and say that there is no right and wrong, therefore honor killings by Muslims are perfectly acceptable, although “distasteful”.
No, really. That kid exists, and hopefully a cosmic kick to his behind will restore or create some sanity for him.
Man-boys aside, relativism is really dealing Christians a blow.
You know what really makes Christians work together? You know what really causes peace? Seeing people for who they actually are.
If Anna is Baptist and Mary is Catholic, and they both decide to overlook and ignore their differences because they’re “just Christians”, and then decide to go to Mass or a service together, one of them is going to be made into a liar. Either Mary will have to have Communion outside of the Church, thereby wounding her soul with a possible mortal sin or Anna will have Communion in a Catholic Church- publicly negating just about everything that Baptists claim to believe. Either way, the situation can become spiritually confusing and therefore dangerous.
I’m not arguing against conversion here- if Anna decides she wants to become Catholic, then she should go through the proper channels and may she have the best of blessings and luck. What I am arguing against is the dangerous assumption that “its all the same”.
If anyone stumbling across this blog has watched the kids movie “The Incredibles”, there is a very interesting point made early on in the film. For a very basic run-down of the movie, a family of super-heroes has to act “normal” in order to avoid a whole mess of problems. One of the memorable quotes from the movie that comes back to me from time to time says “We’re all super, we’re all special. All people are special.” And if I remember right its the
totally not disgustingly stereotypical teen daughter who says “If everyone is special, nobody is.”
Wow. Hollywood accidentally said something true. Amazing how that one whipped right past censors.
That is exactly what is happening with Christians. Suddenly, everybody is considered Christian, but not in the way outlined above. People are not being labeled or labeling themselves as Christians because of what they believe, other than that at some point there was this guy named Jesus who was kind of a big deal. The assumption being made is that all Christians are equally Christian in their belief.
Want to know the damage this can do? Okay, let’s say Liberal Linda from Saint Gay-Pants Episcopal Church gets married to Moderate Marty from Saint Whiny Hippie’s Roman Catholic Church. Of course, the marriage is done at her church because at the time Moderate Marty and his bride can’t/won’t figure out what the Catholic Church’s deal is with not letting them get married there, since they both feel equally Christian (never mind facts and history, children, its feelings that matter). Now, lets say they have kids, and suddenly Moderate Marty experiences a conversion.
Suddenly Moderate Marty starts praying the rosary, going to Mass, and stops worshiping his politics. Suddenly he doesn’t want to be called Moderate Marty anymore, and says he’d just like to be called orthodox instead, and just to complicate things he starts to see some serious issues with allowing his kids to occasionally go to Saint Gay Pride and Wymn Preists EpiscopalianPalooza Church. To complicate things more, he realizes that he does have a vocation to marriage, and deeply aches for a Catholic wedding ceremony.
(My apolgies to Episcopalians out there, but your name is absolute fun to play with linguistically speaking.)
How long do you think “tolerance” and “open-mindedness” are going to last in that household? How long do you think it will take for Marty to be berated by his wife for being a “closed-minded conservative stuck in the past” and worse “a gay hater”? Granted, it could be that Marty is married to an awesome woman who doesn’t work by a double standard, but even if she is awesome what are they now to do about the kids? They are both about to be confronted about the real differences in theology in their religion, and it is going to be painful.
People divorce over stuff like this.
Why is all of this important? Why make a big deal? Because when someone says “I’m Baptist” or “I’m Lutheran” or “I’m Catholic” it means that you are making yourself distinct. Even non-denominational people are distinct AND YES, YOU GUYS ARE SOOOOOO DENOMINATIONAL. LOOK UP THE WORD ALREADY!! Why make yourself distinct by a name if you claim you don’t believe anything different from the next guy?
Could it be because you know, deep down, below all of the propaganda, that you do believe differently than the next guy?
The unity in Moderate Marty and Linda Liberal’s marriage lasted only as long as the lie that they both believed the same things- only for as long as Moderate Marty went along with Linda Liberal’s beliefs. Her beliefs were the common denominator- she didn’t change nor did she have to according to “acceptable” society standards. Although unspoken, it was her beliefs that were “right” and so a false peace prevailed as long as Marty agreed.
Its a dishonest, sickly sweet kind of peace and its thoroughly disgusting kind of peace as well.
Instead, lets say that Moderate Marty decided he did want to explore why the Catholic Church wasn’t allowing him to just up and marry Liberal Linda. Let’s say he learns that his church doesn’t have all the answers, and they send him to another parish, where he gets a quick pamphlet on the meaning of Catholic marriage, and something in him starts to yearn for it. So he goes to his future wife, talks with her, and mentions all of this to her, including the teachings on children, religion, and the teaching on mixed-marriages (this has nothing to do with race by the way).
Let’s say Liberal Linda dumps him in a huff to go find herself an enlightened man who believes in wymyn. Moderate Marty is left heartbroken, but at least he’s not being dumped in the middle of a marriage with children, who are now thoroughly confused and scared.One less broken family, which in the end is much more of a broken heart issue.
Or, we could say that Liberal Linda is initially confused and a little angry, but comes to respect Moderate Marty’s decision, even if she doesn’t understand or like his beliefs. Together, they come up with a plan to raise the kids Catholic while maintaining respect for her Episcopalian faith- acknowledging that yes, both are Christian but that there are important differences. The kids end up learning how to deal with others of other faiths and traditions, yet still remain true to whoever they are, rather than just putting away their beliefs for any set of new ones that comes along. Difficult to do? Yes. Impossible? No.
Constantly pretending like all religions or people are exactly the same leads to intolerance of anything but the majority view. If people really want a pluralistic society with peace, they need to first understand that people are different. Women are different from men. Children are different from adults. Non-denominationals are different from Catholics. Then, people need to understand that while ideas and theology can be very wrong, somewhat right, somewhat wrong, or entirely right, its okay to hold that view. Its okay to believe one thing over another, and its okay to disagree. Its not okay to essentially force everyone to be the same. When people understand and respect that others are different, its much easier to agree not to kill one another off, either spiritually or physically.