Today’s question comes from Sharon.  She wrote:  “Seems like people always have to have a campaign. At one time it was divorce, then speaking in tongues, music, etc. now, it is homosexuality. Getting divorced, speaking in tongues, not speaking in tongues, singing old hymns, singing contemporary songs, same sex relationships, opposite sex relationships etc., the Lord makes no waves about. But we do.  Why do you think that is?”

What a great question.  I have wondered about that myself many times.  I will put out a couple of thoughts, and then invite you to jump in as well.

I think there are a couple reasons why folks tend to invest in such campaigns.  Many folks are raised in religious traditions that emphasized that there was a right way to live one’s life and a wrong way.  If you chose the right way to live, then you would be rewarded.  If you chose the wrong way, you would be punished.

As a result, some folks became incredibly focused on their understand of what living “the right way” entailed.  For some in the holiness churches, for instance, “the right way” meant absolutely no gambling, no drinking, no wearing make up, no going to movies, no divorces, no … you fill in the blank.  Anyone, who did those things was clearly headed down the wrong path, and bound for punishment by God.  Usually eternal punishment in their eyes!

While I believe many of these folks had good intentions at the start, over time they became more focused on what they defined as “right behavior” and less focused on “right relationship with God”.  Their expressions of faith became rigid and legalistic.  They often found themselves doing “the right thing” – but in the wrong ways and sometimes even for the wrong reasons.

I’ve encountered others who take on campaigns for a different reason.  They like the power and control that such campaigns allow them to hold over others.  These folks make me the saddest because of the way they distort what I have experienced to be the loving and grace-filled nature of God and reek havoc on the lives of others – all because of their selfish desire for power and control.

When I was younger, I would often allow my buttons to be pushed when I ran into folks on campaigns.  I would meet their rigidity and judgment with my own forms of rigidity and judgment.  Sadly, my campaign became to stamp out other campaigns.  I was miserable!

As I have gotten older, I’ve tried to take a different approach.  I tell myself that my campaign is to share God’s all inclusive love and grace with absolutely everyone I meet.  When I encounter folks whose campaigns seem particularly divisive and hurtful, I tell myself that my interaction with these folks gives me a GREAT opportunity to practice my campaign in deeper ways.   Sometimes I am more successful living into my campaign than others.

So how about you?  Why do you think some people are so committed to their own campaigns?

I look forward to hearing your next question.  You all have sparked such wonderful conversations!

About Pastor Craig

I'm a 54-year-old who lives in Los Angeles, CA with his black Labrador Retriever named Max. I'm an ordained clergy person in the United Church of Christ. My passions include spirituality, politics, and sports (Go Houston teams, go!). I use my blog to start conversations rather than merely spout my perspectives and opinions. I hope you'll post a question, comment, or observation for me to respond - so we can get the conversation started!
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3 Responses to Campaigns

  1. Beverly Marshall Saling says:

    I remember reading somewhere that along with introversion and extroversion, there is another big personality duality between people who feel most comfortable when there is a set of clear, universal rules to follow and people who feel most comfortable when there are general guidelines to follow but they are considered less important than situational good judgment. I’ve certainly seen that in my professional life, having known editors who were strict about enforcing grammatical and stylistic rules and others who felt those rules needed to bend sometimes for the sake of a clearer or more euphonious sentence.

    I think campaigns get started because people in the rule-following group tend to feel it is wrong or unfair when people in the situational-judgment group want to bend or change the rules. After all, if the rules aren’t always the rules, then their entire understanding of what God wants them to do is in question. Meanwhile, the situational-judgment people get angry that their ability to make sound moral judgments is being questioned, because that is the foundation of THEIR understanding of what God wants them to do.

    Once people were made aware of introversion and extroversion, they were able to understand each other better and make allowances for that difference in personality. Maybe if more people understood about the rules-vs-judgment duality, they could learn to make allowances for that also and not feel that they are being judged unworthy when someone else chooses a different way of relating to God’s will.

  2. Sharon says:

    Craig, your paragraph that starts out, “As I have gotten older….” was my favorite of your whole comment😊 God’s Love, Grace and Mercy are not easily understood, yet there for all. If we, as God’s children would rest and trust in that, we wouldn’t need bandwagons. 😊

  3. Stevie says:

    A question: My daughter asked this question in a theology class at her Jesuit college. (paraphrased, of course.) “Buddha is not considered to be divine. People who follow his teachings are called Buddhists. If I follow the teachings of Jesus, yet don’t believe he is the son of God, am I a Christian?” The answer was “no”.

    So my question is this: In a progressive religion, members say they “follow” Jesus. You don’t hear the words “worship Jesus” very often. Is it the belief, then, that Jesus was not divine? Or all we all divine because our souls don’t die? Or is that one of the beliefs that vary among the folks in the community?

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