Respect for beliefs

So I’ve spent a lot of time with my extended family recently and this has brought a lot of things to my mind. It’s certainly not a secret that my our family has had a sort of turmoil for several years since my immediate family and I decided to leave “The Church of Christ”. Now I don’t want to get into the specifics of why this happened, but since then our family has disagreed about almost everything when it comes to worship, God, Religion, Politics, etc… This certainly has not been easy on anyone, and whenever we come to visit our family, it’s much less fun than it use to be.

The issues that we are having a certainly not a one sided thing. Both sides have a problem and I think that problem is shared. I believe our biggest issue is that we don’t respect each others beliefs. My extended family doesn’t try to understand our beliefs and my immediate family and myself have lost respect for what they believe. (Jimmy – I hope you don’t take this offensively) Recently, my brother wrote a note about Christianity and I felt it showed a complete lack of respect for our family and everything they believe. On the other side, in my most recent trip to see my family, they never tried to respect the fact that I am a democrat…but rather, they just made me feel ridiculous and foolish for ever supporting Obama. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but I believe if we just respect each others beliefs and agree that we are always going to disagree, our problems would disappear. I think our family could learn so much from John McCain and Joe Biden. They obviously make their friendship work. Why can’t we?

The statement below is something I wrote about a year ago when I was frustrated with this same kind of thing. I created a belief statement. Feel free to read the whole thing, but if you don’t want to, at least look at the very end of the statement…that’s where I talk about respecting each other for what we believe.

I believe in God.

I believe God is mysterious and is something I will never fully understand.

I believe God is a temporal God.

I do not believe in predestination.

I believe in free will.

I believe sin is a choice and that we can always choose not to sin.

I believe that even though I refer to God as a “he” that he is a gender neutral God.

I do not believe that men should be the leaders of the household.

I believe that the wife and the husband lead it together but in different ways.

I believe that women can and should be leaders in the church.

I do not believe in denominations.

I believe that Christians should live in community with one another and denominations only encourage segregation.

I do not believe that going to church is mandatory but I believe it is necessary to worship in community.

I believe that we should occasionally fall out of tradition so we don’t fall into the idea that there is only one way to have worship in a church.

I believe that unanswered questions are ok and that we can learn from them.

I believe that teachers and parents shouldn’t tell us answers but show us how to make our own decisions.

I do not believe that the bible has all the answers.

I do not believe that you have to be a Christian to go to heaven.

I believe we only believe so strongly in the bible because we were taught that from a young child.

I believe that everyone will go to heaven because God’s grace is endless and he forgives us just as he commands us to do.

I believe that no sin is greater than another and that we all sin.

I believe that it is not a sin to be a homosexual and I hate that it is such a big issue.

I do not believe that you have to be evangelical to be a good Christian.

I believe there is always a better alternative to war.

I do not believe that worship is only something that happens in church but we worship God all the time in how we live our lives.

I do not believe that the people who are always finding personal time with God are better Christians.

I do not believe God calls us to anything specific, but calls all of humanity to a more general idea.

I believe you can be a Christian whether liberal or conservative, democrat, republican, libertarian, etc…

I do not believe in an absolute truth.

I believe that everyone who reads this will disagree with at least one thing on my list.

I do not believe that I am right and they are wrong, but embrace that fact that you have found a different way of understanding God and our lives on earth.

I believe that we should strive to live in a community that embraces the differences between one another.

I believe that we all find different ways to lead a good life and no one’s way is right or wrong but rather is a gift from God.

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3 comments on “Respect for beliefs

  1. I like this blog, very precise and articulate. you didn’t linger on stuff like I tend to do.

    However, I’d like to clarify something. Concerning the blog you are referring to that I wrote. From what I have been hearing it sounds like our extended family has been talking the blog I wrote as an attack on our family. However, if you look very closely, only once in a very brief sentence is our family ever mentioned. but maybe I was a bit harsh in my words, but you know Im not one to sugar coat things. never was this meant to be an attack on the family nor a judgment of the character of our family.

    But all in all, it is true that both sides of any issue, culture or group typically go about their disagreements in an unacceptable way. And usually disagreements, especially on hot topics, become more of a debating session rather than a harmless disagreement.

    My blog yes was assertive, but I don’t feel it was a disrespectful blog. What I was frustrated with when I wrote it was seeing a lot of my Church of Christ friends I have on facebook or myspace constantly making rude remarks about other religions and political viewpoints that differ from their own. and always acting as if their viewpoint is the right one and anyone else whose viewpoint is not theirs is wrong. The disrespect of another individuals viewpoint and lack of educational values within the church of Christ was what I was trying to get it. However, it wasn’t a disrespectful blog, just very truthful and assertive.

    Now of course it’s not only the Church of Christ that has problems, all churches do. Good grief would I love to be able to tell the Methodists how certain things in their doctrines are faulty and have no place in the church. But then I remember that I don’t have this monopoly on what is good and not good.

    Having separated myself from the church of Christ, and seeing how myself and we as a family have been treated and received because truly did show me what the value system in the church of Christ really is. And I was tired of just sitting back and watching and listening to all of the rude things that were being said by members of the church of Christ and I needed to say something publicly because no body seems to get it.

    but this just isn’t limited to the people of the Church of Christ, the whole world acts as if they have it right and damn everyone else who disagrees. It’s like this vicious, never ending circle where the disrespect we have for one another is constantly going. But the sad part is, most of us don’t realize that what we are being disrespectful. even something as simple as a joke, or a comment made among friends.

    Sometimes the best way to show people that they are being disrespectful is by telling them how you feel about an issue personally. My hot button was How I felt the educational values in the Church of Christ are weak and damaging to our youth. This doesn’t include all Churches of Christ of course seeing as how I have not been to all of them, not even close.

    But you are right, the issues do not seem to resolve themselves in the way we would like because we are all too busy being in disagreement with one another, and those disagreements continually linger and cause bitterness. but the question is, how do you help someone, or a group of people understand where you are coming from without them making fun of you or throwing your convictions out as silly or ridiculous? Because if one side feels that the others sides convictions are wrong and they will be damned for having those convictions, how do you help them to understand otherwise? now that’s a question to ponder.

  2. I understand all of those frustrations. I have pretty much the exact same background as you…so I completely understand. I also know you didn’t mean that as an attack on our family, but I think you did mean it as an attack on the Church of Christ. Even if you only said our family in one sentence, our family will assume you mean them any time you say the Church of Christ because they are a part of it. But, you’re right…this is a question to ponder. I certainly haven’t figured it out yet.

  3. I love your belief statements. I suspect that in 10 years, if you do this exercise again, they will look differently. I miss the closeness of our extended family. I miss getting together with them and singing, eating, going to church, and debate. Now all has changed. I’m sorry that your dad and I were the causes of this, but we had to make a change. I’m happy that the particular church I grew up in taught me the following:
    *knowledge and love of the Bible
    *love of debate
    *careful reading
    * open mindedness
    *love for oratory and sermons
    *appreciation of community
    *love of accapella singing

    Some of the things I had to unlearn include:
    *spiritual arrogance (I’m still working on that one)
    *fear of religous difference
    *fear of damnation–I needed to understand the limitless grace of God
    *subjugation of women
    *Isolation and lack of interest in social justice

    I’ll say here though that people in CoC are nice and good people. I miss the hundreds of friends we had who have cut us off because of our new beliefs. I love them all and think of them often with great fondness. And those who have died sometimes break my heart in memories. Tom, who died of cancer, Clarsee, who could play Wahoo like crazy, Joyce, who loved my kids like her own, Richard, a gentle preacher with a big heart, Grover, who always made me laugh, and my own Nanie, who loved me no matter what I did or said. Good people.

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