Dear Peg

Disclaimer:  To all my friends, past or present, with the name “Margaret” who are referred to as Peggy or Peg, please forgive me for using your nickname in what might be considered a sarcastic or even what you might consider derogatory manner.  Please take no personal offense!  It just fits what I feel like saying today.  I happen to love and respect each and every woman named “Peg” I have ever met!

Dear Peg,

I watched the Republican National Convention coverage last evening.  I mean, how can I rail and rant about politics (those rare moments when it’s fun to do, at least in the privacy of my own home, or before God, which I often do) if I don’t pay a little attention to what our leader wannabes and actual policymakers are saying to their constituents in public?  And I was left with a particularly STRONG impression:

Trump has a really, really BEAUTIFUL wife.  I mean, drop dead gorgeous.  Are ya with me on this?  She’s a knockout.

There, that was safe.  Let’s just stick to something we can all agree on.

I’m writing to you, Peg.  You know who you are.  Or perhaps you don’t.  Perhaps you don’t get that just because someone ends up having to vote for a guy like Mr. Trump they might not actually agree with everything he stands for or what he says he’ll push through.  Or if someone ends up having to vote for a woman like Mrs. Clinton they might not actually agree with everything she stands for or what she says she’ll push through.  Perhaps a person simply has to vote for SOMEONE who comes closest to resembling what their gut says is best for our country.

Can’t wait to see the DNC next week.  Surely there’ll be SOMETHING Peg and I can agree on after that…

See, Peg, I’m thinking that I’ve been really unfair to these candidates, among others. Those who affect our society, for better or for worse, are people we would disagree with on a lot of things if we sat down and started conversing.  But they have enough backbone to stick to their guns even through all the labels, the attempts to stifle or shut them up, by people who don’t agree with them, and for that I admire them all, if I’m honest.  Trump, Pence, Clinton, Sanders, the Brexit campaigners across the ocean, and even ISIS get my admiration right now.  Like Jesus, my greatest hero, they press on in spite of the labeling and shaming and shunning.  Me, I’m afraid of YOU, Peg–I have no backbone!  Even writing this blog scares me, Peg, which is why I’m writing to you right off the bat–to get this off my chest.

I’ve met you many times before.  Sometimes on social media, sometimes at church, and sometimes in professional circles.  Sometimes I’ve heard you on the radio or seen you on TV.  You’re everywhere and I’m afraid of opening my mouth to speak anymore for fear you’ll do it again…you’ll peg me.

For example, Peg, I’m so afraid to discuss my convictions about homosexuality that I just avoid having to do so at all costs, and it keeps me from pursuing social contact with friends who have spoken out against evangelical Christianity because of this issue.  Now, I actually have a couple gay friends who know where I stand and still love me and my heart as I do them and theirs, even though we disagree and this pains us both.  It’s not really my gay friends whom I fear will peg me, it’s you, Peg, the self-righteous, self-proclaimed “hater-police” who thinks she/he is in step with the times, enlightened, and not at all interested in why I might still hold on to my biblical ideals about the human race and what’s best for us, whether I be Christian, or Muslim, or simply conservative that way. You see me as cold-hearted and therefore you feel justified in giving me the cold-shoulder.  And if you claim to be Christian, you’ve bought into the rewriting and reinterpretation of biblical texts and there is no room for discussion.  I am evil; you’ve pegged me.

Or perhaps, my dear Peg, you’re the church member who is convinced that all those who defend the LGBTQ community are pagans and God-haters?  Perhaps you cannot conceive that many folks who stand alongside their friends wrestle with the spiritual stigma which comes from standing up to defend the societal rights of people who have given into the pull of same-sex love because they recognize that, at the end of the day, there is none righteous, no not one, or they’re tired of the vitriol and persecution they have witnessed at the hands of the self-righteous, Pharasaical religious zealots of our day and hundreds of years leading up to our day?  Have you got them “pegged” when they, too, might be confused about how to interpret Jesus’ mandate NOT to judge as you are (but you don’t know it yet)?

Dear Peg, have you ever stopped to consider that some people who see things differently from you might actually have, or are still wrestling with, loads of questions surrounding issues of theology, of ethics, of politics and society and humankind and the environment, and would love to hear you out, but when you shut them down with a label, there can be no conversation?

And we could apply this to Pro-Life/Pro-Choice, to Black vs. Blue, to liberal vs conservative anything, environmental studies and theory, creation vs. evolution, egalitarianism vs. complementarianism.  (Got ya on that one, I’ll bet, unless you’re into arguing about who wears the pants in the family!)

When I think back over my life, child of the 60’s that I am, I would like to state as someone often “pegged” (even self-pegged) an evangelical conservative white midwesterner, that I am thankful for the dissidents and the protesters. With little exception, I can certainly see that we all benefit from those who stood up (or stood beside) to protest injustice, falsehood, heresy, and anything else which needed to be adjusted in our society to help it become more free, more just, more fair and equal to all its citizens.

My parents spoke up all the time about how they felt on issues.  They were progressive in their beliefs on just about everything, but  I didn’t end up sharing a lot of their convictions for a very long time as I was working out my Christian faith.  I had the inclination to peg them, as they had the inclination to peg me, and it stunted our growth on both sides.  I so very much want to refrain from doing this with my own grown sons!  Because at the end of the day, if we’ve been paying attention, we’ve probably grown a little wiser than we were yesterday, and it’s fun to share that growth with each other and help each other along the way.

I guess that’s my point, Peg.  I’m really, really thankful that my country still tries to give platforms and voices and opinions free reign, and that our greater society through internet and social media has a way of keeping those voices heard. I don’t want to be someone who keeps my mouth shut all the time and hides from stating my beliefs or convictions about what I feel is best for society, or for you, either, out of fear of being labeled.  Of course, I too must work harder, much harder, at refraining from jumping to label someone when I hear their ideas.  The conversation ends when that happens.  The bell rings, we go to our corners, and come out both guns blazing, and somebody always gets hurt.

Labels never win the day.  Good ideas, wisdom, truth–eventually these will win, after the smoke clears.  I believe in a God who is sovereign over all of this, and this God has already declared Himself the winner.  I dare not presume to decide who among us is on the winning team, however, because I see through a VERY dull and dark glass, according to the book I’ve read on the subject.  So I’m not afraid to listen.  If you won’t peg me, I’d love to hear you out.  Thanks for hearing me.  I cannot imagine every losing the fear of speaking out, but I’m praying for courage to do that AND to listen, too.

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