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Learning to get along together

8/8/2014

Almost weekly, news stories appear promoting gay rights. Currently, 19 states have legalized same-sex marriage while 31 states have traditional marriage laws on the books. Additionally, President Barack Obama has issued various executive orders furthering the equality of gays. All this has made the gay issue a topic for public discussion. It is not just a religious, political or social issue anymore. It is regularly in the news and affecting many Americans on some level.

Almost weekly, news stories appear promoting gay rights. Currently, 19 states have legalized same-sex marriage while 31 states have traditional marriage laws on the books. Additionally, President Barack Obama has issued various executive orders furthering the equality of gays. All this has made the gay issue a topic for public discussion. It is not just a religious, political or social issue anymore. It is regularly in the news and affecting many Americans on some level.

The issue is dividing America, pitting citizen against citizen. My hope is passionate supporters of gay rights could listen to their opponents without anger and passionate supporters of Judeo-Christian values could listen to their opponents in the same way.

When I step back and frame the debate in my mind I see how gays want to be acknowledged, respected and treated like everyone else. To achieve that, they feel it is necessary to push for legislative action, policy changes in business and public awareness-type initiatives. On the other side, evangelical Christians have a traditional belief in marriage that goes back thousands of years and that homosexuality is a sin against God. Consequently, they feel a deep conviction to stand for godly morals and against advocacy of the gay lifestyle.

Common sense tells me there is going to be much more action taken on these issues creating more and more division. Here is a tough question: How can gays and Christians peacefully co-exist? The question itself is divisive because some gays believe a person can practice homosexuality and be a Christian, while evangelicals do not. Thus my point, living peacefully will be a challenge, but I believe it is possible. Attitude is the determining factor.

Jesus' example and words show how it is possible. He said, "Love your enemies, and do good ... expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great" (Luke 6:35). Love does not mean approval or agreement with your opponents. Rather, it speaks of showing kindness and compassion in the face of differences. Jesus strongly was opposed (and eventually crucified) for His teachings and miracles. Yet with an attitude of grace, He spoke the truth and did good for His opposition.

This type of an attitude does not come naturally. Our normal response is to dig in and shun or lash out. It requires the Spirit of Jesus to create the same type of a heart He had. We need His help. Let us call upon Him that He will change us. May Jesus be our hope for today and bring peace in the face of division.

Clint Decker is an evangelist with Great Awakenings ministries who makes his home in Clay Center.