Monday, September 10, 2012

Faith and Politics: Who Do You Say That I Am?

I’m sharing this story as part of a synchroblog connected with Andi Cumbo and Shawn Smucker about the appropriate intersection between these faith and politics. Because that's such an easy, light, and calm topic. Check out more about the project by visiting this website

Atheist. Christian. Democrat. Republican. Liberal. Moderate. Libertarian. Methodist. Baptist. Southern Baptist. Non-denominational. Traditional. Emergent.

From a grammatical standpoint, these words can be used as either adjectives or nouns. They can also either be coupled one with another or stand alone as descriptors. When we self-select to use one of the these terms to help label and identify ourselves, we do so to primarily identify as something set apart. We hope when we reveal our pole that there is another magnet of the same political or faith attraction in the vicinity so that we might snap to them, bonding tightly in union. But if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes these words are used intentionally as weapons: to cut; to divide; to segregate.

To polarize.

All these names, all these terms, carry some form of baggage with them, both positive and negative. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with labeling or identifying with any of the words listed above, we need to do so with the keen awareness of the history of these names to some people. That history may not be what you as an individual believe or act on, but just as we carry the reputation of our families through our surnames, we carry the past - and present - actions of the affiliations we stand with when we say "I am a ______."

We may treat one with arrogance and divisiveness another over the most petty of squabbles, but we may also reveal the beauty and true issues of justice to be found when we stop fighting. There is no need to be ashamed of who and what you are. Of what you believe. Of what you stand for. Just be aware of the fact that when you name yourself by one of these terms, you shouldn't automatically expect or presume for everyone to respect you or flock to you.  

You may see nothing wrong with your name, where others may see everything wrong that has happened to them and multiple ways in which they have been wounded in it.

And this presents an opportunity for you to redeem, reclaim, and redefine the perception that someone may have over your name. Your faith. Your beliefs. Your political leanings.

Everything down to what you think the best athletic division is (for the record: it's the SEC).

You should, however, be prepared to be challenged on what you believe, what you stand for, and why. To give an answer and an accounting.

Just try to have a better answer that simply "It's right" or "It's what the country needs."

What are your labels? And how do you help to make sure what defines you doesn't divide you from others? Share your story. Share your thoughts. Link up with others here


Andrea Cumbo said...

Love this, Sonny, especially because you don't write the tired road against labels but instead show that we all need to own the labels we choose and the assumptions that come with them. Thank you.

But one some thing - the best division is the ACC. Thank you. :)

Sonny Lemmons said...

I sometimes feel like I should be embarrassed by my saying I'm a Christian. Not because I want to deny my faith, but because of all those who have gone before me and are more interested in throwing stones than in showing love. I just need to remind myself - gently - of the chance to show redemption in the name and actions of those of us who follow Christ.

And you're welcome to believe what you want to about the ACC. God still loves you and has a plan for your life. :)