I grew up traveling the world…literally. My first overseas experience was at the age of 12 in India. Over the next few years, my family visited Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, England and the United Arab Emirates, all before I graduated high school, and I’ve visited other Countries since then. While visiting these places, my parents intentionally exposed us to other religions, so needless to say, I quickly came to realize that people who disagreed with my faith-which is what I hold most dear, are real people-not just someone on the other side of a keyboard, or someone I read about in a book. They were before me tangibly-I ate with them, laughed with them, loved on them and got to know many of them as friends. I developed a deep love for people of different world religions. From a young age, their religion was not just a history lesson to me-it’s their way of life, and there’s reasons why they believe that which they do.
As we traveled, we visited Buddhist and Hindu temples, Mosques, Orthodox Churches and gorgeous Catholic Cathedrals. My parents wanted us to know that Christianity was true for ourselves, and they believed in the truth of it so much that they wanted us to be completely exposed to other religions—even encouraging us to ask questions of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim leaders.
As much as I love being a millennial, millennials have a couple of things very wrong. I believe that one of the most pressing issues is the belief that disagreement is to be equated with hatred.
Hate is defined by the Webster Dictionary as “extreme dislike or disgust.” There are many people I’ve disagreed with over the years, even quite strongly, while simultaneously caring for (and even in many cases loving) who they are as a person. To disagree with someone does not have to equate with hating them.
Now, it does have to be said that there have been people who have acted completely indecently-wrongly- towards those they disagree with – and I will never excuse or pacify their wrongful acts of violence and hatred. Belittling, hurting, threatening, speaking towards another with “extreme dislike or disgust”, and obviously killing-there is no excuse for these actions. There are times that people do act hatefully towards those they disagree with, and the reality is these are sinful actions.
With so many different philosophies, religions, world views and lifestyles running rampant in our world, it is impossible for us not to have people we disagree with; it is human nature.
So, is it possible to believe in something with all of your heart WHILE acting lovingly towards those who disagree with you? I definitely believe so.
As someone who has passionately revolved her entire life upon what she believes, from a young age I learned a couple of things regarding my personal beliefs and those who believe differently:
- With every fiber of my being I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. The more I continue to probe and dig regarding it’s authenticity, the more I am continually convinced it is true and worth basing my entire life upon
- If you disagree with me, even on this which I hold most dear, I understand that you are a real person just like me- You have real hopes, real dreams, a family, a life that most likely means so much to you, and you are created beautifully in the image of God with value and worth, and there are reasons why you believe what you believe.
- This does not mean that I will cower or hide my beliefs, nor that I will back away from defending them passionately. We all must remember to continually keep ourselves in check and not slide over into the realm of hating one another within our hearts as we disagree.
My desire is that we may all be able to stand for what we believe in without fearing hatred and damnation from others. Disagreement, yes; obviously. But hatred; never. May we never have to live in fear, but motivate and teach ourselves, our peers and our children to be able to disagree without hate.
For millennia, it has been common sense that to disagree is normative; part of every life, every relationship and every nation. Let’s not allow a few crazy people who do indeed hate (on both sides of any issue) to represent a group of people as a whole. Let’s be able to enter into the realm of discussion regarding truth without hatred on either side, because seriously, we’re better than that, millennials, we’re better than that, America, and we’re better than that, fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ.