So, a friend of mine posted this: "If God is love then why do Christians spread so much hate? Rather than cast a stone, love and pray for the person. To hate is the devil's work."
Because he asked, I responded, and I figured I'd share it here too because I get asked this a great deal by people who know me, both my faith and my personality (and try to make sense of putting the two together).
Speaking as a Christian, by and large it's a cultural thing. Since Constantine, Christians have held the power to define morality for the rest of culture. And as we're starting to lose that, it has a lot of us in a sort of attack mode in order to safeguard our territory morally. That's it, I think, in a nutshell for the bulk of cultural Christians nowadays.
On the other hand, there are those who genuinely are trying to show their love by trying to encourage others to "turn from sin." And too often because the language used is "we're right, you're wrong" it comes off as hateful, when even in many cases, it's not hate, it's zeal to see their friends and love ones "get saved" or become "right."
However, in many times, even that seemingly hateful speech is coming from a heart that loves, but doesn't know how to get attention other than shouting rather than taking the time to get to know people as people first.
A friend of mine once compared it to this story, which I think really helped me have more patience for those folks...
A man drove along in a torrential downpour, and just barely missed driving off a cliff where a bridge had been washed away. He looked around for a "bridge out" sign but the rain was too heavy and no one could see it. So he started running through the street trying to stop the oncoming traffic and tell them that the bridge was out and they were rushing to their doom.
In doing so, though, some thought he was crazy, and others thought he was rude. I'll believe it when I see it, others thought.
A simplistic tale, I'll warrant, but it does help to explain the viewpoint of a person of faith and zeal. If someone truly believes he or she is doing a good and loving thing by shouting that the "bridge is out," it is an action done out of love, no matter how the hearer interprets the words or actions.
Now, that doesn't mean that the warn-er doesn't need to learn to speak with compassion and tact, and the onus should be on him or her to do so.
And then there are those who have redefined anything short of abject approval as hate. I only use gay rights here below because it's the most violently discussed among such topics, it seems.
There is the acceptance of a person as a person of value and worth, and then there is the full acceptance of everything that person believes and does -- and we currently live in a world that seems to be unable to realize (or value) the difference between those two things. To be able to value and love a gay person and yet not condone everything that person does should be one of the things that makes us human -- the ability to disapprove of someone's actions and still approve of him or her as a human being created in God's image. Telling someone you believe their actions are wrong isn't hate speech. Calling out violence against someone because you disagree with their lifestyle or actions, however, is hate speech. No matter the issue -- abortion, politics, gender rights, sexual preferences, religion, etc. -- we are each created in the image of God, and therefore we have the ability to form our own opinions. That also means we should be able to hold such opinions in a world where we will be disagreed with often, period.
And we need to all put on our big-boy and big-girl pants and deal with the fact that people will disagree with us.
Are you a religious person who bemoans the fact that the world is changing and that its idea of morality is different than yours? Get over it. Put on your big-boy pants.
Are you a non-religious person who wants people who do believe a faith to shut up and stop talking about it because it's infringing on your so-called rights to not have listen to opinions you disagree with? Get over it. Put on your big-girl pants.
Are you gay and hate it that there are people you will never win over to support you and believe as you do? Get over it. Put on your big-boy pants.
Are you straight and want to change the world so that the rest of the world goes back into the closet and doesn't rain on your parade? Get over it. Put on your big-girl pants.
How do I feel about the topic? I feel like regardless of what I think about it, that it shouldn't be able to come between us and keep us from being friends (or at the very least, friendly).
In other words, vote based on your worldview. Get involved in organizations that you believe in. Be pro. Be con. But be human. Don't wear your crap on your sleeve if it makes you an asshole. Believe what you will or what you won't, but don't let it keep you from all kinds of people. Don't let it build walls between you and the rest of humanity.
Then again, there are those from all viewpoints -- militant religionists, millitant non-religionists, militant genderists, militant non-genderists, militant racists, militant non-racists, militant pro-abortionists, militant anti-abortionists, militant pro-gay, militant anti-gay, etc. -- who seem to relish the hateful attitudes because it's easier to fight straw men than to honestly address the real issues of any subject. And to those who embrace hateful attitudes who still claim to be Christian and to be basing that on the fact that you're following Christ, well, I have trouble believing any of those people truly Christian in any way, shape, or form.
But then, these are just my opinions. If you don't like 'em, you don't have to. Put on your big-boy pants. *grins*