I’ve been talking to a lot of people recently about my mores, values, beliefs, politics…all that good stuff that tends to come up this time of year (election season), but seems to be at the forefront of so many of our minds in the last year or two (especially in the last ten months).
My entire value system has shifted fairly dramatically over the last twenty years, swinging wildly from one direction to the other and landing somewhere in the middle – for now, at least.
I grew up in a conservative evangelical Christian home. We said/say prayers before every meal and before bed every evening. We went to church every Sunday and you had to practically have a doctor’s note to get out of going. I was a part of every Wednesday night youth group at every church my family attended. I went to all the retreats. I sang in all the bands and all the choirs. I went to a disturbingly conservative Christian high school. So for a very, very long time, my beliefs about social issues mirrored that of my parents. I think that’s true for most of us. We repeat what we’re taught until our brains allow us the growth enough to think for ourselves.
So when I graduated high school and went to Bible college in Canada, everything I’d ever been taught was about to come under fire. That was the point of this particulare college: to challenge us and make us think about why we believe what we believe. It was an incredibly challenging and beneficial year of my life; a year that wouldn’t really see it’s full potential for several more years.
I stayed firmly planted in the “right” for many more years until my life went a little askew and I shifted my entire belief system somewhat maniacally to the “left”. I started compartmentalizing my beliefs. To this day, I am of the position that my faith and my politics can (and should) be mutually exclusive. That’s a benefit I’m granted as a citizen of this country. We don’t live in a theocracy, so I don’t behave as though I do. For many evangelicals, that’s not the case – faith defines politics and vice versa. It’s okay to disagree with me. Many people do. That’s also a benefit we’re afforded.
And with that shift has also come a shift in my faith. I have a hard time reconciling the harsh God of the Old Testament with the dirty hippie socialist Jesus of the New Testament. I’ve gotten a lot of backlash in the recent past for my views on terrorism and various terrorist organizations around the world. As far “left” as I may seem on many issues, I assure you I am firmly planted in the “pro-life” side of things, but probably not in the way you’d think. And it took being married to a United States sailor and becoming a mother to solidify my position on that. But because of how staunchly pro-life I am, pretty much every other aspect of my social beliefs are very very liberal.
I feel like that gets really frustrating for American Evangelicals. I feel like I am very frustratng to American Evangelicals. That’s a hard thing to come to grips with. Some of my closest friends (and much of my family) are evangelical Christians. A woman who I look up to and want to be when I grow up…I must frustrate the hell out of her.
I curse and get angry. I flip proverbial tables. I fight for the marginalized. I want everyone to be included and counted and cared for, no matter the background or reason. Everyone matters. That’s just the end of that statement. There’s no “everyone matters because..” or “everyone matters despite…” or “everyone matters except…”
Everyone just matters.
I feel like that’s the whole point of Jesus.