I failed today in my mission to be a voice for discourse in our nation, not a voice of discord.
My high school debate coach always told us to agree to disagree without being disagreeable. And that’s what I want to do, but I let my temper and anger get the best of me today.
I failed today as a son. My Momma was in Columbia, South Carolina, on the steps of the state Capitol building, listening to Franklin Graham, the son of the iconic evangelist, Billy Graham. I’ve read a lot about Franklin Graham, including his tweets about gays and lesbians, and I immediately berated my mother for being there. For supporting someone that thinks her son and his marriage is wicked. That the love I have for my husband represents everything that is wrong with America. That this country is in a mess, and I’m to blame.
She tried to explain that she was there with people from her church, but I didn’t listen. I told her that I hoped she prayed that Franklin Graham would join the 21st century. I excoriated his views on women’s role in the church, on her own son and my “disease of the human soul”, on his anti-abortion stance but then lack of any caring about children once they’ve left the womb. I don’t think she knew what to say. The line went crackly, and then died.
I don’t know if she hung up on me or whether God killed the signal. Because no matter what I think about Mr. Graham’s views, I was betraying my own values by being disagreeable.
Tonight, I watched the video of Mr. Graham’s sermon. The same sermon that my Momma heard earlier today.
It seems that in this election year, everybody thinks our nation is in trouble. “Serious trouble,” as Franklin said in his sermon. And he said that no political party can turn this around, whether Republican or Democratic. It’s up to Christians to take a stand and make a difference.
I agree with him. It is up to all of us, but I don’t think that his desire to impose Sharia-like government is where our nation should be headed. We can’t allow our political leaders to use their interpretation of the Bible as the basis for governing a multicultural and diverse nation.
Mr. Graham talked about how during his childhood, they were concerned about the Commies. About the Red Scare, but then after the Berlin wall came down, and the Soviet Union disintegrated, we let down our guard.
Mr. Graham said, “Our moral and political walls are threatened. Our morals walls are down. Any type of wicked thought and activity can come and go. Our educators, politicians and churches are more concerned about political correctness than God’s truth and his righteousness.” (The line about political correctness got the biggest applause of the day.)
And then he said that our country allowed to flourish the greatest threat ever. “Progressives” or “secularists” were allowed to take “God out of our country.” Kids no longer recite the 10 commandments, pray in school or say the pledge of allegiance. Unlike in those days, our country is in a mess.
I call this the “Happy Days” mentality. The belief that at some point in time, our nation was perfect and everything was right.
If you are a straight, white, male, then you might look at those days and believe that the times were perfect. And now, when you look and see people that are different, reflecting a diverse fabric of our nation, and that these people are starting to take away some of your power, and there’s only so much power, then it’s only natural to be scared.
To want to put your head under your desk and pray that it’s all gonna be like it was.
But we can’t do that. I agree that Christians in this nation need to vote based on what candidate will best uphold our nation’s shared values. But these shared values are not one person’s interpretation of Christianity. The shared value of the United States is separation of church and state because that’s the only way to allow freedom.
I do confess though that the ten commandments are important. And I should have remembered the most important one. Honor thy father and thy mother. My Momma is doing what she thinks is right. She wants what is best for our nation, and as a Christian she struggles in her heart between what she’s been taught and what she believes is right. And I’m sure to the chagrin of Mr. Graham and others, she’s progressing. This year, she included my husband on the Christmas card she sends every year. The first time she’s done that in the 10 years he and I have been together. And even if she disagrees with me, she loves me. And as a true Southern Christian woman, she is never disagreeable. That’s a lesson the candidates from both parties need to learn.