Stop Dehumanizing Your Opposition

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   I’ve been trying to write this for weeks. I sat down a couple of times to write and came up with a dozen scattered paragraphs that didn’t coincide, so to help me collect my thoughts, I had some conversations with people I trust, and I really appreciate them taking the time to listen to me.

After engaging an atheist friend on Facebook, I began to take more notice (and Facebook kept putting into my newsfeed) the memes and tweets that they were sharing about Christianity. I was a bit put off. It seemed this person has nothing but derision for Christians, mockery and blanket statements. Each time I read their posts, I thought, “Don’t you realize that you are alienating anyone who might want to discuss this with you?”

This gave me pause and I began to consider, “Why do they share these posts anyway?”

I can tell you, it wasn’t to engage in dialogue. It wasn’t to understand the other side. It wasn’t even to be understood. It was simply to validate their position, rally to their side, and reinforce where they stood on the issue of topic.

I’m not blind, I’ve seen this all over. But these past few weeks I’ve taken more notice and seen it so abundantly. To my discouragement, I’ve seen it scattered liberally across most Facebook accounts, Christian and non-Christian alike.

Perhaps we are all so wrapped in our bubble of like-mindedness that we don’t realize how scoffing these posts can be until we see it in an opposing worldview to ours. Perhaps we simply read posts that say so concisely what we stand for and share them without considering how someone on the other side is going to perceive it. Perhaps we are simply so drawn to what makes us feel good, we post what we like without much further thought. But we need to stop.

I’m noticing 2 main problems:

  1. Posting to validate our position

  2. Assuming the intent of the opposing side

First, what’s so wrong about posting to validate your position?

If you take a stand on objective truth, you should not need to constantly validate it.


Scoffing at the other side, drawing the applause of your friends, boosting your conviction in any area — these are not necessary if what you believe stands to scrutiny and genuine conversation. If you can’t discuss and articulate your position in an honest way, truly seeking to understand and be understood, then your position deserves to be challenged and you need to reexamine yourself.


Prove to me that you stand by what you believe by getting off of your high horse and discussing it with me. I want to understand. And I want to know that you understand me. If you are making fun of me, then my (correct) assumption is that you don’t understand where I’m coming from. And until I know that you understand me, I’ll take everything you say with a degree of doubt. Your influence on me is next to nothing.

Secondly, perhaps the saddest mindset that is prevalent on Facebook and other social media platforms: assuming the intent of your opposition.

Several times my family members have commented on my political or religious posts or articles that I’ve shared on Facebook with an opposing point of view. You can guess what happened. My (hopefully well-meaning) friends pounced to defend my point of view, villianizing my family member and assuming that a) their motive is wrong, or that b) they haven’t researched this issue or thought about it. I felt like screaming at my friends to LEAVE MY FAMILY ALONE!

Can we just do this?


Stop assuming pro-choice persons hate babies.
Stop assuming pro-life person hate women or support rape.
Stop assuming atheists persons are hateful or arrogant.
Stop assuming Christian persons are hypocritical or simply traditional.
Stop assuming persons of the Democratic party are all power-thirsty.
Stop assuming persons of the Republican party hate poor people.
Stop assuming homosexual persons are wallowing in sin and loving it.
Stop assuming persons who oppose homosexuality are judgmental.
Stop assuming homeschooling families are religious prudes.
Stop assuming public schooling families don’t care about their children’s education.
Stop assuming anti-vaccine parents are conspiracy theorists.
Stop assuming pro-vaccine parents are brainwashed conformists.
Stop assuming that white persons are racist.
Stop assuming that black persons are victims.
Stop assuming anything about someone you don’t know.

I understand that there are persons in each category that do fall under that stereotype and do a disservice to everyone else, but have the maturity of mind to know that not everyone who holds a position does so from evil motives or lack of information.

What I’m not saying:

I’m not saying it is wrong to challenge the other side or hold hypocrisy and inconsistent reasoning up to the light. But we need to do so in a way that invites civil discussion, not discourages it, challenging the ideas without demonizing the persons who believe those ideas.

I’m not saying that every side is right or true. I believe in truth, God ordained and governed. But let’s be transparent enough to admit that we don’t understand it all and need each other to challenge us and awaken us to things we would not see otherwise.

What I am saying is that we need to be lovingly open to conversation, willing to articulate our position and educated enough to do so (or willing to admit that we cannot.) We need to stop assuming that opposition is all wrong or uninformed, and we need to challenge ideas, not the people who hold those ideas.

Christians, I’m calling you out. Are you simply unaware? By sharing the tweet making fun of Islam, by posting blanket statements about homosexuality, by shutting down discussion with conviction of hatred, you are shutting out the very people God called us to minister to! Every Christian today was not once a Christian, but was once of the world. Of all people, we should have the most love for those who are blinded, the most patience for sinners, the most hatred of the sin itself. Or did you forget that we are to be known by our love. Don’t compromise your beliefs. Don’t hesitate from sharing the truth. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel. But by all means share the truth in love. Remember the forgiveness and compassion of Jesus our Savior to the women at the well. Wife of five different men, and the man she was currently with was not her husband. And yet Jesus extended an invitation of kind discussion with her, leading her to the gospel.

As Christians, we believe that the gospel of salvation is a revelation of God and a work of the Holy Spirit. Until then, spiritually, the world is blinded, but please note that doesn’t mean someone who is not Christian is not educated or a deep-thinker or even un-spiritual. We can fall into thinking that an atheist or skeptic just doesn’t have enough information. How arrogant of us to think in this way. Let us instead love and pray for this world.

As I prepare to post this, I am aware it was written with more passion than most of my posts and it is possible that I have written some inconsistencies of reasoning. I would love nothing more than a civil discussion about a post about a civil discussion. I hope we can all be more aware of the people on the other end of the screen who are reading what we put out.

Sincerely,
Ellie

Conversations About Life Podcast: featuring Me and Jonny

My father has started a podcast called “Conversations About Life.” As his first guest, I feel very honored!

I think the podcast is off to a great start and I had an enjoyable time talking about my courtship along with Jonny.

Click the signature to go to the podcast, or the link is below.

https://willjackson.com/a-newly-married-couple-discuss-their-courtship/

Lots has happened

So….last year around April I posted last. Also last year in April I started a relationship with this guy….and believe it or not, we met on this blog 5+ years ago. So I guess this blog has really changed my life. That’s kind of amazing! God works in mysterious ways. I never would have imagined that I’d meet my future husband online. What’s that? “Future husband?” Yes, we’re engaged….I haven’t been blogging any of this? I guess not. That’s embarrassing. The most important year of my life so far and it isn’t even on my blog for all the world to see….
Well! You know what they say! New year, new me! Just kidding. It’s still Ellie. I haven’t changed at all since December 31st, 2017. But I might just start blogging more….Or not. But either way, here’s some of the news you missed!

Jonny proposed, and it made the news.
http://www.kmov.com/clip/13906608/woman-says-yes-to-surprise-arch-grounds-proposal#.WgyCBwdhAe0.facebook

Here’s our engagement photos:

Isn’t that crazy?
The big day is April of this year. I can hardly believe it! This is going to be awesome….

Entering the New Year with gusto!
Ellie

Darwin’s Dilemma

I held my cat for a long time tonight. I had felt a surge of panic as I thought of the day’s conversations and everything I had done wrong, and before I knew it, the cat I was in the middle of putting outside was clasped tight under my chin. I’m amazed at the gentleness in her. Most of the time she doesn’t like being held like that, probably because her old joints need specific support to be comfortable, but I must have gotten it right, because she didn’t struggle once but purred and rested against me. I hugged all the anxiety away. I know I’ve said it before, but my cat seems to know when I am sick or hurting, and I’m always amazed. Animals are amazing.

Our family also watched a documentary tonight called “Metamorphosis.” After a (rather long) exploration of the journey from caterpillar to butterfly, and then a look at the Monarch Butterfly migration, the biologists finally made the point they were coming to, two points actually.

The first has to do with metamorphosis itself. In metamorphosis, a caterpillar, inside the chrysalis, does something similar to decomposing. Its cells break down, they die, they turn into a pile of mush. Some of those cells disappear, and others are used to the reorganization of a completely different body. Wings, legs, proboscis, compound eyes, antennae, digestive tract, heart, and reproductive organs–they are all completely new and altogether different from the caterpillar. This metamorphosis poses a problem to the common-held theory of evolution which states that creatures evolved by natural selection and slowly grew in complexity over time. Because metamorphosis doesn’t work like that. First off, a creature wouldn’t (figuratively) kill itself unless there was a planned outcome. It cannot just randomly develop this habit of committing suicide inside a chrysalis and killing off most body cells without a system already put in place to rebuild itself. Secondly, it cannot slowly develop this process. So many things, tiny and huge, have to happen all at once for this to work. If the wings and eyes worked, but not the organs, the butterfly would die. If the legs and proboscis worked, but not the connecting muscles, the butterfly would die. If everything, by some happy, random chance, was put together perfectly except for one thing, the butterfly could not survive. For all of these amazing developments to happen at once is quite improbable, maybe impossible. The more logical conclusion is that it was designed.

The second point the biologists came to was that because of the art and beauty in the world that we observe, we can perceive that there must be intelligence behind it. There are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies in the world, and every single species has a different wing shape and pattern. In some cases, patterns help the butterflies to survive, but in many they are simply there. Natural selection has no reason for beauty, and no explanation for how it came about.

Look at a sunset. Look at the stars. Look at a cat. Look at a tiny butterfly. It is art. It is simply the logical response to assume that something intelligent is behind it all, and it is simply the right response to give our praise to that something.

 

In awe,
Ellie

Anxiety vs Our Big God

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Photo credit to Lily Caldwell, thanks girl!

What do I have to be anxious about? Nothing, right? I am a child of the Creator of the Universe. But I’ve been struggling with anxiety and fearfulness for a few weeks now. Anytime I’m alone, I’m subject to a wave of terror and nervousness sometimes displaying themselves physically with shivers and a lump in my throat so big I have to cough to breathe. In a nutshell–I’m afraid of myself and my sin. I’m afraid of destroying relationships and people that I love. I’m afraid that my future will be one disasterous spiral as I mess up again, and again, and again.

I’m not used to anxiety, because I’m usually optimitic, sometimes even unhealthily to the point of not thinking about consequenses. So this new anxiety has paralized me, to a certain degree, but more than that, it’s forced me to lean on God, and for that I am thankful. When I feel my throat seize up and dread of impending doom settle in my stomach, I have two options: 1. fly apart as I believe that I am in charge of my life, or 2. acknowledge that Jesus is my Savior and my Master and He has freed me from the power of sin.

Isn’t God greater than sin? Hasn’t God directed me this far? Hasn’t He held me so very tightly that not even I can destroy our relationship? How dare I doubt that the God who can control stars can control my life, every single hour of it! From atoms to galaxies, He is Lord.
We’ve been going through a Bible study at church called Behold Your God. It’s wonderful. Through it I’ve come to see that what we need most is to see God for who He truly is. It has been my goal in the fear and anxiety to fix my attention on God instead of on myself. Psalm 139 has been my fallback scripture since I’ve been working on memorizing it. This is what I have memorized right now.
 
Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold O Lord! You know it altogether. 
You hem me in behind and before and lay Your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me! It is high, I cannot attain it. 
 
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence. If I ascend to heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say “Surely the darkness shall cover me and the light about me be night” even the darkness is not dark to you and night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 
 
For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works. My soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me when as yet there were none of them
So wonderful and soothing. My God is big enough to calm all my fears. He is faithful and patient and will never let me go.
In Christ,
Ellie

My Two Cents

I am not very patriotic, to be honest. I don’t feel comfortable pledging my alliance to a country I don’t believe in. So I don’t. I pray for our President and the leaders of our country, but I don’t make any show of agreeing with them.

So when the Supreme Court ruled for same-sex marriage, I was surprised at the load of sorrow I felt. I predict that the country cannot last long after such a blow. Families are the building blocks of society, the vitamins of fruitful souls. Families are what produce and raise healthy lives. Without them, society cannot last.
Christian families need to be stronger than ever to survive in a hostile land. It will become more and more obvious as we go along, who the true church is. It will be harder and harder to be a Christian, and we can no longer take it lightly. We will be called old-fashioned, haters, and discriminators, but there is no better time to shine God’s love than when the rest of the world is dark.
I don’t pretend to admire America or its values, but it is my country. The history, the people, the land, I love it more than I realized.
Morals and virtue are almost gone, but I vow to stand for America, despite what it does to itself.