Thursday, January 21, 2010

Respecting People

The following post is distinct from the conversations at hand, but something that I have been thinking about. I have a view of people that each person is due respect and honor regardless of their behavior or belief system. While I believe in treating a homeless drunkard with the same curtsey and kindness as I would the President, I also see those who are in leadership in a community or nation as people I ought to honor with what I say about them.

There was a day where I said plenty I am now not proud of regarding a particular President from years ago. However, I realized the error of my ways. I thought freedom of speech lent me the moral right to speak disrespectfully of the President since I disagreed so vehemently with the way he ran the country. In my opinion, I was wrong.

I do not share the political worldview of President Obama, but I aim to always speak of him with respect and for the respect to be something not that I just show publicly, but how I internally respond as well. I aim not to be duplicitous in my rendering of honor and respect.

In so doing, there are a variety of leaders in the Church. These leaders are not perfect and make mistakes, some more often than others. I can only think of Billy Graham and Mother Teresa as those who I have seldom if ever heard any complaint. You will find me speaking well of these leaders even if I do not share all their doctrine, or all their ideology, or all their way of doing ministry. I will also speak well of them if they have made a big mistake even if I see that mistake as a real character flaw or sin issue. This does not mean I ignore the issue, if I think something said was wrong, or mistaken, or if I see something they are doing as sin, I won’t say it isn’t when it is. However, I will still speak kindly and respectfully of each person. I don’t wait for someone to earn respect, they have it at the start.

I also try to remember that everyone says something they shouldn’t sometimes and everyone says something that is not popular sometimes or just plain wrong. Anyone, church leader or not, who is in the public eye constantly will inevitably say something that will not be well received. If I had such a public following I am sure to make a mess of things when I’m talking from time to time regardless of whether what I said was true or not true.

Anyone should have freedom to disagree with anything anyone has said, even if the President of the United States said something. We live in America with that freedom. And while we also live with the freedom to mock a person or publicly call someone out for their issues it does not seem to be good character to do so. It would seem to reflect more on the character of the one pointing the finger then the object of the rebuke.

In the same way, I always speak well of my atheists friends. Disagreement regarding matters of truth do not lend themselves to me thinking ill of anyone who doesn’t see things they way I do. I know my readers all ready know this. However, I know this isn’t always the norm coming from a Christian, even though it ought to be the norm. I have seen documentaries by Richard Dawkins that shows even prominent ministers treating him in a less than noble manner. This greatly saddens me. I have, however, also seen him speak very well of how he was treated by other Christian leaders when he has been invited out to churches for debates or other events.

I hope one day to invite him to my city and treat him as I would a President. Not to earn any brownie points with him for Christians, but because it is how he ought to be treated as a guest of mine.

Honestly, I write this post more for Christian readers than I do for my atheists readers. I just felt it needed to be written as it’s been on my mind for a while now.

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