Culture War Curtail

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photo by David Quick

When it comes to discussions about sexual orientation, the “culture wars” seem to be a constant theme. For over three decades, American politics has largely been defined by a battle in which Christian soldiers armed with moral truth aim to use the political process to codify their values into law. Meanwhile, LGBT activists armed with the truth about their own lives have aimed to involve themselves politically to find broader acceptance in society and gain legal rights and protections.  It’s a conflict that has manifested itself in the form of an outright revolution.

We’ve been so busy battling each other that we’ve forgotten the very basic fact that, despite the seemingly deep values chiasm, we aren’t all that different.  All of us want a better world with safer, stronger communities.  All of us want to be respected. All of us want the freedom to live our lives according to what we believe is right. For these reasons, I believe it’s time to end the culture wars and move beyond political rhetoric that labels and limits our potential.  We need to stop battling each other and start peacefully coexisting. We can do this right here—in Wichita, KS and set an example of civility for the rest of the country.

To do this, we have to start talking to each other and begin some uncomfortable conversations. We have to stop fearing those who are different from us, and we have to start engaging them. Christians need to understand and acknowledge that gay does not equal godless. There are plenty of LGBT individuals of faith who are actively involved in multiple denominations and congregations. They have families who want their children to grow up with strong moral convictions and definitive ideas about right and wrong. Their God is just as awesome as anyone else’s. Many gay people have been hurt by religion, but to move forward we need to be forgiving. We have to stop greeting with hostility those who identify as religious or conservative. We need to be as accepting of others as we want them to be of us. This means we won’t always agree with a particular person’s beliefs. We can disagree with people on matters of philosophy and politics. We should all agree, though, that we’re on our own spiritual journeys. Judgment should be reserved for someone with higher authority.

It’s very easy to fall into an “us vs. them” mentality. Real progress is made when you can rise above the status quo. We’ve been fighting wars with each other for too long. It’s time to start working together. That doesn’t mean you compromise your own integrity or cheapen your personal moral code. When it comes to safer streets, connected neighborhoods, and a more vibrant local economy Wichita needs everyone to move forward.

Putting an end to the culture wars won’t be easy for everyone. Inevitable, some will always cling to conflict. For them, we must lead by example. That old adage about lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness comes to mind. Loving thy neighbor means accepting that you won’t always understand your neighbor’s beliefs or way of life. We should all make strides to get to know each other and learn to respect each other, though.  That’s a Kansas value that could revolutionize the world.

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