Respect others’ beliefs

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    I never saw “Brokeback Mountain.” My schedule was such that it left most theaters before I had the chance. In addition, I’ve never read “The Da Vinci Code,” nor have I seen “The Book of Daniel.” Frankly, I rarely see important movies or read controversial books, and the only TV show I watch is “Lost.” That doesn’t mean, however, that I haven’t witnessed the fallout, especially from the Christian minority.In these days of media saturation and the free-for-all Internet, everyone has a microphone. At first glance, one would think this kind of interconnection would be a good thing. The free exchange of ideas forms the basis for our society, and it helps those who question existence find Truth among a field of lies.

    As a Christian, the global village excites me. In a few clicks, I can present my beliefs and discuss them with people halfway across the globe. By the same token, I can read others’ views and use them to challenge my own. Together with the rest of humanity, I can continue my voyage toward understanding the secrets and mysteries of existence.

    But there are flaws in my plan. For this sort of thing to work, mankind must be inherently altruistic, a pipe dream at best, and it must also be open-minded.

    As part of my Christian faith, I believe there is an absolute truth that binds all of existence. I’ve researched and examined most of my beliefs, and I feel comfortable with them. This doesn’t mean that I’m not open to argument. If my beliefs are strong, they will withstand any dissent. Through respect for others and their opinions, Christians can show love.

    Unfortunately, many of my fellow Christians don’t follow this path. Instead of listening to and trying to understand others’ differing opinions, many Christians either shut down or become defensive. On the extreme side, we have people such as the Rev. Fred Phelps out of Topeka, Kan., whose church’s “Love Crusades,” which often take place near the funerals of homosexuals, feature people carrying signs that read, “God Hates Fags” or “Fags Doom Nations.” Some Christians feel God’s call to blow up abortion clinics. Even groups such as the Ku Klux Klan promote hateful doctrine and refer to themselves as “Christian.”

    But hate can be found locally, as well. I’ve heard how some of my friends discuss homosexuals or other people with whom they disagree. It’s not overflowing with loving compassion.

    So how should we act? For starters, Christians should love others in spite of their beliefs. In no way am I saying that Christians should accept and include others’ beliefs, but we should respect them. Second, Christians should attempt to understand other people instead of condemning them. Third, we should not be afraid to present our views, but we shouldn’t force them down others’ throats.

    For those who are not Christians, understand that our faith was never designed to promote hatred. We’re called to tell others what we believe but never to force them into accepting it. Pursue Truth with all your heart. Search and question and discuss. Eventually, you’ll figure it all out.

    Christianity preaches love for all mankind, including men like Phelps and those in organizations such as the KKK. Through mutual respect, we can stop living in a world of hatred and misunderstanding.

    Brian Wooddell is a senior news-editorial journalism major from The Woodlands.