Love God, Love your Neighbor

Up until the fall of 2020 I had never thought much about politics, racism, culture, or many of the issues that have our country so divided today. I did not vote in 2012 or 2016 and the only reason I did in 2020 was that I suddenly began to open my eyes as to what was happening after getting into an argument with my father over the 2020 election. He wanted to vote for Biden and I thought he was crazy for not seeing my point of view. He seemed to feel the same way about me.

If you have read any of the articles on my blog clearskyamerica.com you would notice that I am interested in theology, philosophy, and what makes a person happy and productive. I am a conservative and a follower of Christ and feel you get somewhere in life by having faith, working hard, and following the morals and ethics found in the Bible. But I will confess, like many right leaning Christians I did not have much, if any, empathy for people that were different from me, who were struggling economically, or had broken the laws within our country.

I knew nothing about left leaning groups like Antifa or BLM or any of the far right groups like the Proud Boys either. I simply floated along in my middle class suburban life and never really thought too deeply about anything outside my sphere. If I saw a homeless person or a beggar at a stop light I did not have a strong desire to help them. Yes, on an occasional basis I worked at a homeless shelter or Habitat for Humanity but also balanced that out with occasional thoughts of “why can’t you get a job?”

My father voted democrat in large part because he hated Trump, but also because he feels all Americans need free healthcare and that college should be free as well. My question has always been “Who is going to pay for that?”

The point of this blog post, though, is not to solve our differences or to convince you one point is better than another. The point is we are all different and all have opinions. We should be able to voice our opinions freely without the risk of being yelled at, canceled, or having violence committed against you for your beliefs. All totalitarian regimes and countries squelch dissenting opinions and views and have often murdered or enslaved those who would not fall in line. Is this where we are headed? A one party state like so many failed totalitarian regimes from the past?

When I started seeing the riots and looting in Portland my reaction was we should combat that with police or military force. I thought the Mayor of Portland should be fired. I thought force would quickly solve the problem. But would that really solve the problem of homelessness, drug use, and crime that is rampant in that city and many others across the country?

I am showing my bias by picking on the liberals in Portland. But what about the hate and violence coming from the right? Is there any difference?

Recently I started reading other books from intellectuals such as Sheldon Wolin and Chris Hedges. While I didn’t agree with everything I read in “Democracy Incorporated” or “America: The Farewell Tour” I do admit most of what they had to say will at least get you to consider other ideas. Somewhere in my research I ran across Susan M. Shaw who is professor of women, gender and sexuality studies at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. She also is an ordained Baptist minister and holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Susan is also openly a lesbian and frequently writes articles for a website called Baptist News Global. Her ideas are very socialistic in nature and she frequently writes about the harm we are doing to our environment. Recently she wrote an article about climate change and very quickly found herself under attack as right leaning conservatives, many who claim to be Christians, contacted her employer, Oregon State University, asking for her to be fired.

Susan stated in a follow up article “Monday Breitbart picked up the Campus Reform report, and then the emails took a decidedly more vile turn, calling me every misogynistic, homophobic name in the book. Campus Reform and Breitbart readers emailed my university president, my dean and even the senators in the Oregon legislature.

Through Wednesday, the emails poured in; it seemed like a blitz attack by a pack of rabid dogs. It felt like an assault. Then by Wednesday afternoon, the emails slowed to a trickle. The trolls had moved on to the next outrage and targeted the next person with whom they disagreed.”

Let me clear. I don’t believe in rioting, looting, or violence. I am not sure what to believe about homosexuality and find it strange that an ordained Baptist minister is openly gay. But is any one of us perfect? Aren’t we all different and unique? I am a sinner and fall well short of perfection each and every day.

The non stop hateful rhetoric from both the left and the right needs to stop. Violence, yelling and screaming, and dishonest or misleading statements will not stop anything and only inflames the situation and causes people to dig their heels in convinced they alone are right and their moral order the only way to go.

What would Jesus do? What was his dominant message while he was here on earth?

Matthew 22:37-40 …’Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Many Christians, just like non believers, have forgotten this simple but profound message. Love God. Love your Neighbor.

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