20 February 2007

How Do You Arrive At Your Beliefs?

The ability to have an opinion—a perception if you will—requires people to think long and hard on where they stand on issues along with the road that leads them there. This act of thinking is purposely an action verb that insists upon making up one’s own mind, not following in the footsteps of another.

Why do you take that stance on that issue? Is it because it is something you have researched in order to come to an informed decision? Or is it merely a position held by virtue of listening to the media’s spin on something, or worse yet, blindly following someone else’s lead because you believe them to be smarter than you? Each of us is entitled to our own beliefs and opinions on subjects at hand; it’s how to come to your conclusions that matters.

The media is certainly no place to place any weight on an opinion; they place their own spin on any issue based on what their opinion is. To be sure, there are some publications that are more unbiased than not, but as a general rule, one cannot assume that the articles read equally encompass both sides of any given issue.

Another insidious source of opinion is the church’s pulpit. While a Pastor, like every other person in this country, has the right to his or her own opinions, there is no room for those opinions to be preached. The pulpit should be reserved for the preaching of the Lord’s Word as defined by the Bible, not spouting some political diatribe and rhetoric that is hoisted upon us by using the Bible as conjecture for that position. Too many people in the congregation are like lambs being lead to the slaughter. They truly believe what is said in the pulpit, regardless of the subject matter, is the truth. I will admit, as long as it is the Word that is being faithfully preached without the Pastor’s personal opinion spun upon the subject, then that speaks of truth according to the Bible. When the Pastor ventures into the territory of the political domain, then I believe that creates a conflict of interest. The Church enjoys a tax-free status. If they choose to use their pulpit as a forum and venue to spout political conjecture, then they must be willing to give up their tax-free status. The concept of separation of Church and State cuts both ways.

The gay community has suffered long and hard at the hands of the fire and brimstone of “concerned” preachers. They spout, “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but, in reality, hating the sinner is the ultimate achievement by this sort of diatribe. Never before has there been a subject matter so venomously preached on as the wages of sin being death towards the gay community. It is as if this is the last stronghold upon which the church has to take. Oh, to be sure, abortion is still a viable arguable effort; however; it no longer raises the ire and brings together a small-minded community convinced that they must all inform the gay man or lesbian woman that they are going to hell.

So, how do you arrive at the conclusions or your stances on any given subject matter? Do you go to reliable, proven sources to make an informed decision, or do you become exactly like that lamb led to slaughter and jump on the bandwagon to follow others’ opinions because you don’t have the inclination to be responsible for your own beliefs? I chose to use the Bible as a reference for the Church’s stance on homosexuality as it is the source most Christians will fall back on to condemn a gay man or a lesbian to an eternal life in hell.

Each of us carries that enormous burden of being responsible for our opinions and beliefs because we should arrive at them with correct information to back up what those opinions indicate. Nevertheless, each of us is equally burdened with carrying out a dialog with someone of an opposing belief with compassion and understanding. This is the art of debate where two opposing tenets can be examined with openness and not accusation regardless of the subject matter. In addition, above all, when one arrives at a belief or an opinion based upon a personal experience, no one can argue over that experience because it is what it is: a personal example of what someone brings to the table to be discussed without theory or postulates. Anyone can spout invectives over a subject, but it does not lesson the personal experience of any one individual (e.g., is abortion considered OK, regardless of the term of pregnancy, when it is as a result of rape or incest?). Unless one has walked in the other’s shoes, one must honor these experiences during the expression of disagreement.

So again, I ask of you…what is the foundation behind your beliefs?©2007

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