A Life of Forbidden Topics: Politics and Religion

We all know there are two topics you do not discuss at the dinner table or at work: Politics and Religion. What happens when your personal and work life are based on these two forbidden topics?

A few years ago, I never would have guessed that I would be working within the political system.  The more I grew through education and interpersonal relationships, the more apparent it became to me that God created me with the gifts of activism and organizing. It became apparent to me that it’s a privilege to be able to ignore political and social systems.

And here I am now: organizing rural Minnesotans through a non-partisan organization to create positive change by putting the value of people ahead of profit-driven corporate interests at the state legislature while volunteering as a leader for 12 freshman girls at my church. 

Over the past several years, and especially the last several months, here is what has become so deeply clear to me:

A life of forbidden topics_

1. Being a politically-active and progressive Christian is God’s calling to my life. God works through the church. God works through prayer. God works through interpersonal relationships. But He also works through masses of people coming together to make change at a societal and political level. I have no doubt that the talents and gifts He gave me were intended to put me to work for His kingdom at this level, fighting for the stewardship of His creation, equality among all of His created people, and healthy communities. Prayerfully reading and applying His Word through the lens of the oppressed and the poor is undoubtedly what He has lead me to do.

2. Being a politically-active and progressive Christian means I will create tension with and even receive threats from other Christians. The people who have expressed the most hate towards me have been my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve been told I’m going to Hell because of my progressive views. I’ve been cursed at, shunned by, and verbally assaulted by those who disagree with me. And it’s hard. Sometimes these are from people who are near and dear to me. Sometimes these are from people I’ve never been in contact with before. No matter what, I will continue to follow God’s calling for me, even when it’s hard. I will never apologize for asking questions, challenging the status quo, and being the activist I’ve been called to be. I love, love, love meaningful conversations with people who agree OR disagree with me. Our eternal destination, the love of the Father, and our ultimate connection are dependent only on faith in what Christ did for us on the cross.

3. Being a politically-active and progressive Christian means that you can’t really get to know me when these topics are forbidden between us. Imagine being friends with a professional athlete, but forbidding discussion about sports. When I cannot discuss either my faith or my involvement in politics with you, it’s really hard to get to know my heart. My heart is sustained by my faith in Jesus Christ. My mission is rooted in serving His kingdom through professionally working in and personally engaging with the political system. We don’t have to agree for you to really get to know me, but we do have to have a platform to discuss these things.

I’m so energized (and exhausted) every single day by this life God called me to. And so very energized by those, agreeing or not, who support me in this call.

As always, out of respect for myself, I will not engage with arguments online. Feel free to buy me a cup of black tea and have a meaningful conversation in person with me, though!

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Dear Church: Women’s are More Than Sidekicks.

Few Christians would argue that blatant sexism is okay. Yet, sexism with “good intentions” is still sexism. I am one of many women who have been hurt by the church’s teaching that women have equal value to men but not equal opportunity. I am one of many women who has bought into the lie that men can do more than women can in the Church and in the family. I am one of many women who finds my value being determined by the church rather than by Christ. I am one of many women who is tired of her talents, gifts, and passions being suppressed by the church.

I realize that I don’t have the historical or traditional view. Let me be very clear: I am arguing that women are called to and capable of being in leadership in the church. I am arguing that, even with “good intentions”, limiting women in the church and in the family is blatant sexism, and is not of God. I do not believe that God gave women gifts that aren’t allowed to be developed and used. I do not believe that God created women to be a sidekick, an inferior being, or a listener at all times. I believe that when the church limits women, they are limiting themselves, their community, and their faithfulness.

My opinion means nothing if scripture doesn’t back it up. Opinions that aren’t biblical aren’t valid. I am someone who would rather believe truth than something that sounds good but is unsupported. I am going to go through each argument for why women should not be limited in the church and the family.

Let me just say now: If you can’t read this with an open mind and open heart, just don’t read it. It’s not going to build community, change hearts, and facilitate relationships if you read this with the goal of creating a fight. If you do have questions or comments, please respectfully send them to me privately. I do not engage in comment debates. 

My main point is this: READ SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT. Although there are many scriptures about this issue, I want to address the most used ones.

(1) Consequence of Sin: Genesis and the Gospel.

When you truly understand the meaning of the Gospel, you understand that the broken relationship between men and women is not what God intended and created. Before the Fall, men and women had equality in their value and opportunity. Both men and women were created in the image of God and the fullness of God. After the Fall, God said to Eve that her husband now had authority over her (Genesis 3:16). This is not the relationship God intended. The consequence for sin included broken relationships between man and woman, husband and wife.

But what we forget is that we are not under the Old Covenant anymore. The Old Covenant was based on humans redeeming themselves through good works, such as sacrifices and following the commandments. Now, we live in a forgiven world. We live in a world where what matters is what Christ already did for us. We are called to live in the fullness of Christ, which includes God’s intended relationship between man and woman. After numerous conversations with both “egalitarian” and “complementarian” pastors, teachers, and individuals, I deeply believe that the divide between what men and women can do in our world, and especially in the church is a sign of Christians constantly forgetting that they’re living in a New Covenant. We are no longer slaves to our sin, to measuring up, to performance, to labels, or to gender. Continuing to tell women that they cannot lead, teach, or hold a position of leadership is the Church being stuck in a pre-Christ world. The consequences God gives for our sin have already been taken by Christ. We not only need to live in freedom as individuals, but as a Church.

God didn’t intend the Fall to continue. We have already been redeemed. We need to live in our redemption. And that includes the redemption of the male-female, husband-wife relationship. But then why are there scriptures that point to different roles for men and women in the New Testament? Context.

Side note: Yes, we are still called to righteousness, as these good works declare His glory to others and are a natural result of a changed heart. But He has paid the price. Of course, there are still earthly consequences for sin. I’m not saying God punishes us, because that punishment has already been taken by Christ. I’m saying that when we hurt people in our lives, our relationships suffer.

(2) Wives, submit to your husbands: ex. Ephesians 5.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is head of the church, his body, and is Himself its Savior. How as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

-Ephesians 5:25

There are a few places where this theme is discussed by Paul in his letters. What’s important to notice is that, in context in its full scripture here, Paul is telling all people to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ, and then continues to specifically point out that wives are to submit to their husbands. If you study the history behind this passage, it is very very clear that Paul believes all people are to submit to each other, but the wives in the city of Ephesus were not submitting to their husbands. The issue here is not that wives are only to submit to their husbands. The issue is that all people are to submit to each other, but the women to whom this letter was written needed direct correction for their lack of submission.

Submission is an act that honors God. We are to submit ourselves to each other and to the church because of how it fosters relationships, strengthens the church community, and is a representation the Trinity. Without getting into it to much, the understanding of biblical scholars is that the Father, Son, and Spirit are all fully God and each fully submit to each other. When God’s people do the same, we are representing His fullness.

(3) I do not permit a woman to teach: 1 Timothy 2.

 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  

 -1 Timothy 2:8-13

Again, this passage is taken out of context 99% of the time. When you look at the history of this letter, this is a letter from Paul to Timothy. We have to remember that a letter captures something bound in time and place, even though it can be widely applicable to today. This letter is written to Timothy while he is living and leading in the city of Ephesus. Again, the city of Ephesus had a lot of issues at this time, including false teachers and women who wouldn’t submit. Looking deeply at the history, it can be easily seen that Paul is forbidding women of Ephesus to teach because they are false teachers. Paul is not forbidding all women in all places for all of time from teaching. Context is so important. If you look in Paul’s other letters, he doesn’t say this to other communities.

Someone will also point out that I cut off the last section of the scripture, so I’ll address that. It says:

For Adam was formed first, then Eve;  and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

-1 Timothy 2:14-15

Again, context is so important. This kind of talk is exclusively spoken between Paul and the city of Ephesus, whether through his letter to them or to Timothy. There’s a difference between sanctification and salvation. The Greek word used for “salvation” in this passage really means sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which we come more and more like Christ between when we become Christians and when we go to heaven. Thus, it is understood that this passage shows an example for how the women who were false teachers can become more like Christ through raising children in the truth, faith, love, and holiness of God. 

So what does this mean? 

Men, if you are called to preach, please preach. Women, if you are called to preach, please preach. Men, if you are called to children’s and student ministry, do that. Women, if you are called to children’s and student ministry, do that. Husbands and wives, submit to each other. Men and women, submit to the church.

And ultimately, church, you need to value women. We are more than sidekicks. We were made in the fullness of Christ, in the image of God. I don’t doubt that Christians value men and women, but limiting opportunities is still sexism. This is hard because I’ve bought into this lie almost my whole life, it’s not just a problem with men, it’s a problem with all of us. Church, do more than value women. Realize that you have a huge pool of underutilized gifts, talents, and passions within your congregation.

Questions/comments can be directed to amanda.babcock3@gmail.com

I am a pretty busy person, so if I don’t respond within a couple of days, don’t be worried.

Me Too: Five True Stories

Over the past several years, women have been coming forward with their stories of sexual assault and harassment by public figures who have abused their power, wealth, and fame. Recently, a campaign called “Me Too” has been taking over social media, with the goal to help us all understand how often these events occur, especially in the lives of women.

Story 1.

A 15-year old girl finally caught the eye of a guy she liked. She didn’t know what to expect, but suddenly they were “together”. He never told anyone about her. He hid her. He didn’t show her off to his family or friends. One day, he spent time with her with her family. They went boating, and on the way back to her house, he pulled his car over. He told her he loved her, molested her, and drove her home. She didn’t say a word. She felt powerless. She didn’t know what had happened. He dropped her off, called her on his way home, and broke up with her.

 

It happens with anyone.

It happens without you understanding.

It happens whether you’re “promiscuous” or “innocent”.

 

Story 2.

A 7-year old girl is playing hide-and-go-seek with her brother and her brother’s friend. Her brother’s friend, let’s call him “John”, tells the girl to hide with him as her brother counts. John brings her into a room where they’re alone. She hears her mother vacuuming upstairs. She hears her brother counting down. John forces his hands inside of her and counts down as her brother counts down. He tells her not to tell anyone. She didn’t understand what had happened, so she didn’t.

Later that same year, the girl was playing with her brother and John again. John tells the brother that they should play “wedding”. The girl is forced to be the bride, and when the brother isn’t looking, he forces his hands inside of her again. The girl ran out of the room, and she didn’t tell anyone until she was 18 years old.

 

It happens where you think you’re safe.

It happens when you’re around family.

It happens at any age.

 

Story 3.

A 20-year old girl is working. She loves her job and her coworkers, but a man in his 50s had been hitting on her all summer. He wasn’t a coworker, but a contractor. One day, she had the chance to do an activity with her coworkers that she had not been able to do before, which included being in a harness. Her other coworkers strapped themselves into their harnesses. The contractor was running the activity and strapped her in and made very inappropriate jokes. He had not strapped in a customer for months. Later, he was overheard bragging about what happened with his 30-something son.

 

It happens where you feel happy.

It happens with people much older than you.

It happens where people don’t take action.

 

Story 4.

While walking though a small town on a busy morning, a 19-year old girl listened to her music while sheltering herself from the rain. She was wearing sweatpants and a rain jacket with her hood covering her head. She was walking to class, like she had dozens of times. She recognized peoples’ faces, smiled by those she passed, and suddenly found herself alone on a dirt road for about 200 feet. She didn’t think anything of it. The town was busy, but this was the route she took every day—it was a less populated part of her walk each morning.

Suddenly, a white pick-up truck pulled over and a man got out of the truck. She only noticed out of the corner of her eye. The man started yelling at her, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying over her music. When she turned around, the man had unzipped his pants. She started running. He ran after her until she turned onto the next crowded street. The man wasn’t caught. She was told that it had never happened in this town.

 

It happens suddenly.

It happens anywhere.

It happens no matter what you wear.

 

Story 5.

A 19-year old girl walked to a coffee shop in a busy part of town. The previous night was rough for her, so she decided to wear her favorite dress to cheer herself up. Only a couple hundred feet away from the coffee shop, two men approached her. One lifted up her skirt as the other took pictures of her. She ran straight into the coffee shop.

 

It happens in public.

It happens when you feel confident.

It happens when you least expect it.

 

The truth about all of these stories is that they not only follow a theme of sexual harassment and assault but they also all happened to one person. Me. And these aren’t even all of the stories I have.

 

These things SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. I fight for this because I want to live in a world where my generation and the generations to come never have to experience these things. To all the people who have experienced these things, please remember that your worth is in Christ alone. These people do not decide your value. They do not decide what you deserve. They do not decide that you are at fault.

 

Share your story, whether it’s with a trusted friend or a group of people. Know that you are not alone.

 

#MeToo

 

Angry at the Church & Christians?: A Defense for Their Failures

I went through a faith crisis for over a year, starting when I was abroad in 2016. I was sickened by the tidy, calm, unrevolutionary Jesus portrayed by base-of-the-mountain Churches and Christians. I was tired of seeing Christians ignore issues like refugee crises, sex trafficking, and families falling apart all over our nation due to divorce, porn, and addictions to idols. I was sick of watching people be rejected for their pasts, even though they repented. I could go on. I was so angry at the church. I blamed religion. I blamed Christians. I kept going to church, but I always had my guard up.

I am so glad I went through that. It motivated me to spend time deep in the Word, to understand who Christ really is. It motivated me to open my eyes to the revolutionary, life-changing, culture-challenging Jesus that the Bible describes. It motivated me to become the Christian I am, even though I am beyond imperfect. It furthered my faith and allowed me to really get to know the God I claimed to have a relationship with. I began to see the depth of the Gospel, the depth of salvation, and the depth of Christ’s heart.

That being said, I moved forward. I was right to find my own faith. I was right to seek Christ and Truth without only taking in what people tell me. It sparked something beautiful, but where I am now has given me peace. I see others going through that. I see plenty of millennial Christians who are going through the same thing– but to the point of leaving the church. Here’s what I have to say to my peers who are struggling with their faith because of the failures of the Church and Christians. 

1. Understand that the Church and Christians will never be perfect.

When an institution is made up of sinners, it will never be perfect. If we have true faith, we have changed hearts that seek righteousness. However, we are bound to make mistakes. We are bound to have the wrong views on earthly issues. We are bound to fail. But our identity doesn’t rely on how perfect we are, but on how perfect Christ is. If we expect the Church or Christians to be perfect, our theology is wrong. That being said, challenge the Church. Challenge Christians. Set high standards and push them to be as much like Christ as possible.

2. Realize that if you want to see change, you have to get involved.

After working at many churches this summer, I noticed how so many churches lacked volunteers. If you really want to impact your church, your community, and the next generation of Christians; get involved. Lead, devote your time, join a small group. You can’t complain if all you do is complain. You are called to be part of a community. Church isn’t for attending, it’s for being part of a family. You can’t fulfill the mission of the church by only going to services. 

3. Make sure your faith is based on Christ alone, not imperfect representations of Him. 

If your faith depends on how sinners represent Christ, your faith isn’t grounded in the right place. Your belief, your relationship, and your heart depend on Christ alone. He is the only savior. He is the only one who is sinless and perfect. He is the only one who can redeem the world. Make sure you’re focusing, ultimately, on Christ.

 

If you’re struggling with this, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to talk.

The Sin of Tolerance

Tolerance. Tolerance is allowing the existence, occurrence, or practice of something without interference. Tolerance is preached by a variety of people- Christians and non-Christians alike. Everyone wants to be respected. Everyone wants to live their life without the interference of others. But tolerance is the absence of love. Here’s why:

1. Tolerating other religions is the absence of love. 

Let me be completely clear: I am by no means preaching that we should think less of others, attack others, or disrespect others that do not believe in Jesus Christ. What I am saying is that the most hateful thing you can do is not share the beautiful news of the gospel. Life is too short to be shy about eternity. If you want to respect someone’s life choices, do so. Just don’t deprive them of the opportunity to hear that there is a God who loves them. Don’t deprive them of the news that is not only life-changing, but eternity-changing. As much as I appreciate seeing a coexist bumper sticker, respecting others while withholding something much bigger than this life is not love at all.

This life is not about making it through school and working until you retire. This life is not about family or friends. This life is not about getting married and having children. This life is about finding true life through Jesus Christ and reflecting it onto others. It’s about bringing a taste of the fullness and satisfaction of heaven to earth. At its essence, Hell is eternal separation from God. Eternal separation from the only one that can fulfill you, perfectly love you, and provide for you. Don’t let your tolerance, fear of being a Jesus-freak, and shyness get in the way of someone else’s eternity. You are called to emulate the light of Christ. No one gets to the Father except through Christ (John 14:6). Help others know Him, we are His ambassadors.

2 Corinthians 5:20 says,

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ– God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2. Tolerating sin is the absence of love. 

Christians (myself included) seem okay with a number of sins. Judgment (Matthew 7). Pride (Romans 12). Greed (Luke 12). Gluttony (Romans 13). Selfishness (Philippians 2). Gossip (2 Corinthians 12). Hatred (1 John 2). Idolatry (Exodus 20). These are sins that I personally struggle with. When we don’t call each other out in grace and truth, we are not loving each other the way we are called to.

Let me make something else clear: Good works don’t get you to heaven, but they are a natural result of a heart that belongs to the Lord. If your heart is truly changed by the truth of the gospel, you are naturally compelled to be more like Christ. We should be rejecting sin like God rejects sin. We need to be forgiving of ourselves and others, but we should be standing up against the sins that are very alive and well in our lives and in the church.

We should be embodying humility, grace, forgiveness, generosity, selflessness, honesty, love, and service to the one true God. We should be encouraging each other to do so as well. We should not turn a blind eye to “acceptable” sins in our own lives or in the lives of others. I mean, where would I be if my mother wasn’t around to tell me I was being stupid most of my adolescence? (And still now. Thanks, Ma.)

Matthew 18:15-17 says:

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

3. Tolerating yourself is the absence of love. 

It sounds cheesy, but I feel like God is asking me to be vulnerable in this moment. How many of us merely tolerate ourselves? On an average day, I honestly don’t like myself very much. I’m in a period of my life where my average week includes being rejected from yet another job, hating myself for eating mac and cheese instead of all the fresh fruit and vegetables I have, and being alone so much that I overthink about who I am as a person. Here’s the truth: I am far from perfect. I am selfish, controlling, and argumentative. I eat more than I should, exercise less than I should, and spend less time with people than I should. Ask my parents. Ask my brother. Ask my poor boyfriend.

But whatever you or your life are like, you were created in the image of God. Merely tolerating yourself is like merely tolerating God because you’re not fully appreciating His creation. Not to make you feel worse about yourself, but not loving yourself is a sin. I think one of the best traits to have is being self-aware. Yes, you should know your flaws– knowing them means you can work toward being more and more like Christ. But being self-aware includes being aware of your value and worth through Christ. When God looks at me, He doesn’t see someone who struggles with jealousy, judgment, and greed. He sees His daughter. He sees the image of His Son. He sees someone who was made righteous. He sees someone whose body and mind He created beautifully and perfectly.

1 John 3:1 says,

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Aggression at Bethel in an Emotionally Charged Nation

 

Over the past several years at Bethel, I have almost always felt safe, respected and valued–I cannot say the same about this present school year. I have become very disappointed in the actions of members of the student body over the last several months. I feel as if I’m leaving a different Bethel than I entered into – and not in a good way. I want to be clear that, although imperfect as any human-led organization is, my frustration is not with the Bethel administration, but students and their choices.

       

In my final year at Bethel alone, I’ve become aware of many aggressive actions different individuals have taken on campus that target students of color, LGBTQ students and women through public displays, harassment, tearing down event posters and more. Moreover, students aren’t the only impacted –faculty and staff are affected by these actions as well. Bethel is a community. I fear that students who are serving their fears and insecurities over Christ and others are breaking our community.

As Christians, we are called to respect others. Christ calls us to treat others as we would like to be treated (Matthew 7). Paul calls us to be devoted to each other in love and honoring others above ourselves (Romans 12). Paul challenges us to value others above ourselves in humility (Philippians 2). These are only three of many passages that preach these values. Of course, not every member of the Bethel community is a practicing Christian, but religion shouldn’t be the source of morality. There still is a clear “right” and “wrong” on this issue. It is never respectful or loving to harass others, disrespect gatherings of those different than yourself, and communicate messages of hate. Brothers and sisters of Bethel, I urge you to live humbly, treat others well, emulate the love of God and communicate in a mature and Christ-honoring way.

Moreover, we are called to not judge others – which is particularly applicable to harassment and aggression towards LGBTQ students. This idea is riddled all around scripture.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7, ESV).

I could write a book with everything I do wrong – it would probably end up being an encyclopedia set. But what’s beautiful is that God is the only judge I need to worry about. Where I am with Him is between Him and myself only. He is the only one who gets to decide what is and isn’t considered sin. He sees me at the same level as anyone else. I’m no better or worse than anyone.

There is no clause in scripture that says the love of God belongs to only Christians, to only white people, to only men, to only heterosexual people, to only Americans, to only conservatives, etc. You don’t have to march with or even support Black Lives Matter to respect and love people of color. You don’t have to support gay marriage or believe being LGBTQ is not a choice to be respectful to and love the people of the LGBTQ community. You don’t have believe that the wage gap exist or that sexism is alive to treat women with respect and love. You don’t have to be liberal to love and treat liberals with respect. You don’t have to be conservative to love and treat conservatives with respect. Nothing you believe as a human being, and especially as a Christian, should stop you from treating any human being with respect.

My biggest plea is this: when you see an individual, you should not only see their gender, race, sexual orientation, or political party; you should see their humanity. Each person is created in the image of God. Each person is composed of hundreds of things – their likes, their passions, their strengths, their history, etc. Stop limiting who they are to one or a few societal labels. Seek to understand each and every piece of them. When we start seeing individuals and groups of people as the enemy, we are losing sight of our true battle.  

To students who are struggling with big social issues our nation is currently facing, I recommend asking questions, taking challenging classes, sparking up conversations, digging into the Word, and removing any acquired bias and past influence.  

Apology from a Democrat

As a human, I am feeling so worn down by the political division I see in our country. I see it in the news, on social media, and in the communities around me. We have come to a time where we cannot have meaningful, fruitful, bipartisan conversation anymore, and I honestly have to admit my role in that.

(1) I am sorry for caring so much for the dehumanized that I actually dehumanized you. It’s pretty crappy that I want all people to be treated with respect, but have failed to love you well. You are human. You are valuable. You are so much more than your political views. You deserve care and respect like anyone else, and I am sorry for when I have treated you otherwise or have thought otherwise without saying.

(2) Conservative women against the marches: I am sorry that you feel alienated. I could take this moment to share my opinion, but instead I want to say that it’s a shame that some women and men promoting equality do not treat you with equality. It is a shame that there is so much miscommunication and misrepresentation of peoples’ beliefs that you are put down for it. I do see where you’re coming from even if I do not agree with you. You’re not less of a woman. You’re not less of a human. You’re not less of anything. We just don’t see eye to eye. As a pro-choice yet anti-abortion person, I can respect that a movement that promotes equality but that is also tied to pro-choice ideas will result in women who cannot stand with something that supports potential fetus’ death. I can respect that you may not think equality is in jeopardy if you have not experienced it yourself. I just hope that those who marched can seek to understand why you feel the way you do, and I hope that you will do the same to understand the women and men who did.

(3) I am sorry for letting the quality of our relationship be determined by a small part of your earthly identity. This is such a politically charged season that we have started to see each other’s political views as their identity. I am Christian. I am a woman. I am an environmentalist. I am a student. I am a daughter. I am a friend. You too have all of these beautiful things about yourself that have nothing to do with your political views. I am sorry for when I have failed to see past that. Your political views are not a determining factor in whether or not we can be friends and support each other. I am sorry for connecting your political views to your value and ability to support me.

(4) I am sorry for rejecting your beliefs without trying to understand why you believe them. The reason I believe what I do is because of (1) a lot of prayer, (2) a lot of critical thinking, and (3) viewing the gospel as a story that is focused on restoring the relationships intended in the Garden of Eden instead of just individual salvation. I see that in myself, and I get frustrated when others assume that I was brainwashed into it. Thus, I deserve to give you the same chance. I want to know what drives your thought process. And to be honest, we can all be looking at the same landscape from a different standpoint and see things differently. We honestly all are looking at the same thing, but none of us can actually see the whole picture. BUT it is important to ask them what they are seeing. It brings their beliefs to life. It lets you see why they have come to the conclusions they have come to instead of just judging their views as they are.

(5) I am sorry for the position that this past election put you in. I honestly do not know what I would have done if I was in your position. As a conservative, you had two choices: vote for someone whose policies were completely opposite of what you wanted, or vote for policies you supported but were voiced by a crazy person. As someone who does not like President Trump’s character or policies, I can say that he put conservative voters, especially Christian ones, in a tough position. I am sorry that people think you’re like him if you voted for his policies but did not like his character. So many people had to reluctantly vote for him, and I respect that–especially if you’re honest about his character flaws as an imperfect human being.

(6) I am sorry for how you are presented in the media. Why is it that our media portrays every side as radical and crazy? Someone needs to drain that swamp and make media non-partisan again.

(7) I am sorry for not seeking the commonality between us. There are so many beautiful things we could bond over, yet I have written you off at times because of our political differences. You’re so much more than your political views. Your morality (and mine) does not depend on who you voted for. Especially in this super tough election for a lot of people.

(8) I am sorry that we have been unable to overcome our differences to unite as Christ’s body. Christ told us to unify as a body. I am one of many who advocate for unity among divisive denominations, yet I have not necessarily advocated for unity among political divisions.

(9) I am sorry that I have channeled my frustration at you rather than getting involved and making a difference. Think about how beautiful this country would be if each and every one of us volunteered in a cause we cared about. Think about how many of our problems would be healed if we did more than complain about them. I promise that I will do my best to involve myself and channel my frustration into action. I hope you do the same–we need passionate people in this world who do more than say smart-sounding things.

I hope that instead of shutting down when we speak about these things, that we can not only hear the words of the other person, but that we seek to understand the thought process behind those words. I hope that we can look at human issues without giving them a political meaning so that we fight for justice for the oppressed without putting a party’s stamp on it. I truly hope that our country takes the next four years with grace and unity, while also standing up with respect. I truly hope that in the midst of disagreement, respect overrides hatred.