What Message Are You Sending?

Image of Barack Obamas Inauguration From The Crowd On The Mall by Johno525

Image of Barack Obama's Inauguration From The Crowd On The Mall by Johno525

Like so many others across our country and around the world, I felt compelled Tuesday to watch the historical events taking place in Washington D.C.  Even here in rural, republican-leaning, central Ohio, many of my friends and coworkers couldn’t help but watch the spectacle as it was occurring live from the nation’s capital.

I was drawn to the inauguration by accident.  I knew the historical significance of the day and I was eager for our new president to get to work, but I felt no need to gawk at the pomp and circumstance that always accompanies a presidential inauguration.  However, by mid-morning there was an energy in the air that was palpable.  The excitement and anticipation of so many people focused on this one, milestone event created an effect that could be felt on our factory floor.  I felt happy, peaceful, and accepted.  I found myself smiling for no apparent reason.

I wondered if others could feel the energy I was feeling.  As an experiment, I walked the aisle past our basket makers.  Each time I noticed one with their head down, intent on weaving a basket, I would focus my attention on them and smile the energy I was feeling in their direction. 

Five times out of five, each person looked up from their work, immediately caught my gaze, and returned my smile.  No matter how far away I was, no matter what direction they were facing, each time I focused that positive energy on them, within two seconds their head turned in my direction and their eyes found mine.  Absolutely amazing.

 So I watched as much of the swearing-in ceremony as my schedule would allow, I listened to President Obama’s inauguration speech over NPR, I watched much of the parade and a few of the balls on CNN.  The themes of responsibility and accountability came through in the President’s speech, but there were many other messages that were sent during the day’s events.  The diversity and acceptance of the crowd on the mall, the anticipation of change, the inclusion of so many that have been traditionally marginalized, the hope for a brighter future and a better world. 

So many positive messages combined with an overwhelming majority of happy people (in spite of security and scheduling issues in Washington) created an emotional energy that can only be described as love.  It grew and multiplied through out the day and affected us all, as my experiment showed, whether we realized it or not.  Lord, may we as a human race experience more and more days like Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

A Different Message

Wednesday morning at work gave me a completely different experience.  I opened my e-mail and received the following message:

This message contains graphics. If you do not see the graphics, click here to view.

For 30 years Focus on the Family has been nurturing and defending families worldwide. Visit focusonthefamily.com for articles and resources to help you and your family thrive.
  Relationships & Marriage | Parenting | Media Center | Family Store | Support Family Ministry  
  Key Message From the Editor of Focus on the Family Citizen® magazine.

Dear Friend,

Inauguration Day 2009 marks the beginning of a new administration under President Barack Obama and those he’s chosen to serve in it.

Regardless of who you voted for two months ago, you undoubtedly are wondering …

  • Will abortion become more deeply embedded in our nation’s legal code and more widely accepted … or not?
  • Will our military men and women be forced to live with those openly practicing homosexual lifestyles?
  • Will same-sex marriage be legalized in more and more states?
  • Will President Obama give in to pressure to choose liberal activist judges who act as legislators rather than interpreters of the law?
  • Will time-honored Judeo-Christian values be preserved or destroyed in each of our 50 states and in Washington, D.C.?

You undoubtedly are asking: What can I do to protect America’s godly heritage and secure a safe future for my children and grandchildren?

That’s why Citizen Magazine exists. Month after month, it brings concerned citizens like you the “no-spin” truth, practical suggestions and encouragement needed to influence the issues and events that are important to you and your family.

So give yourself the truth behind the news … the action tips … and the motivation you need. Subscribe to Citizen today!


Tom Hess

With the stakes for our country’s direction so high, there’s no better time to request your subscription to Focus on the Family Citizen® magazine. Staying informed is crucial–Citizen is a must-read to give you the truth behind the news!

Request Citizenonline today or by calling 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459), and mention CT09AEICZA. With your subscription request, we will also send you a complimentary 7-CD set, Amazing Stories, which will inspire you to rely upon God in every circumstance.

Subscribe today and you'll also receive a complimentary copy of Amazing Stories, a 7-CD broadcast set Receive the complimentary 7-CD broadcast set Amazing Stories when you subscribe to Focus on the Family Citizen today!This collection of radio broadcasts includes some of the most inspirational testimonies heard on the “Focus on the Family®” broadcast. These stories will remind you that God is always there–even in the most difficult situations. To get your complimentary gift, subscribe today!
Visit focusonthefamily.com today!

I do my best to grow in my Christian faith each day.  Does the fact that I hadn’t “undoubtedly wondered” about any of the issues raised in this e-mail advertisement make me a “bad” Christian?  What about the next questions that crossed my mind: it was right to legislate the civil rights laws that made yesterday’s inauguration possible because that was an issue of justice, but is it right to legislate laws that address moral issues?  Didn’t we try that during prohibition?

This is a message of fear, plain and simple.  This advertisement is judgemental and discriminatory.  The good intentions of well-meaning people have been turned to other purposes by this message.

My question to Focus on the Family is this: if we could interview Jesus Christ today, which message would He be more likely to associate with, President Obama’s inauguration Tuesday or the advertisement above? 

What message are you sending?


5 Responses

  1. Doug,
    Civil Rights Laws were legislated because people in power finally understood that those of color had just as much right to life, liberty and the persuit of happiness as whites. The right to life is not merely a moral issue, it is a basic right endowed by our creator, God. The reason it is mentioned first in that part of the constitution is because without life there can be no liberty or persuit of happiness.
    When people in power want to decide for themselves which lives are worth protecting and which lives are not, they fall into the same category as those who promoted slavery and more recently, those who followed a man named Hitler.
    When did you become you? Was it the moment you took your first breath? Was it a few months before? Was there any doubt that from the moment of your conception until now you would have been anything different than what you are? Why then is it OK to kill a baby at any point from conception until it is born? Does it have more value on one side of the womb than the other or is it that we place value on it where we want it to be and that makes killing it at some point O K?
    Everything mentioned in the advertisement reflects the teachings of the Bible, for example, “Thou Shall Not Kill” and the denouncing of homosexual acts. As far as the question of “What would Jesus do?” I think He’d side with the advertisement – Hands Down!
    Your understanding of Christianity may be the problem. Christianity is about following the teachings of Christ (see the Bible!) It is not about allowing everyone to to do whatever they want as long as they can justify it according to their own terms.
    While it is wonderful that our country finally has its first black ( or non-white for that matter) president, in this case I think it is an example of reverse discrimination. A lot of people voted for him because he is black, not really taking a good look at what he stands for. The opposite of that would be not voting for him because he is black, in spite of what he stands for.
    Your Friend In Christ,

    • Sue,
      Thank you for your passionate response to this post. It’s very apparent where you stand on the issue of abortion. Did you respond so passionately because you perceived me as somehow condoning it?

      Would it surprise you to learn that I too am opposed to abortion? I don’t claim to understand when life actually begins, but I have witnessed the terrible toll that abortion takes in all the lives it touches (the child’s, mother’s, father’s, their families, etc.).

      Yet, even though I agree with your stand against abortion, I have to tell you, as your brother in Christ, that your comments feel like an attack. If I struggle to find common ground for understanding in your words, how much less likely is it that a scared, pregnant teenager would understand? Do your words build a bridge of loving support or do they drive a wedge that breaks communication with the very people you want to help, sending them in the direction you want to save them from?

      Certainly, you can argue that you chose harsh words to correct a fellow believer, and that you would respond in a much more supportive way to a pregnant teen. But would that teen only receive a message of loving support, or is it possible that some of this harshness would also leak through? My concern, and the whole point of this post, is that we in the faith community are sending messages of judgement and fear to those we’re called to reach.

      In the Bible, didn’t Jesus consistently respond to the sinners He encountered with grace and love? Didn’t He also make a point of challenging the Pharisees and religious teachers at every opportunity to give up their self-righteous ways? Isn’t it possible that Jesus could agree with the aim of the advertisement above yet completely disagree with the fear tactics it employs to achieve its goals?

      Your passion for protecting the unborn is admirable. Please be careful not to let that passion send the wrong message to the unborn’s parents. They’re human beings too who are in a very dark place. More than most, I believe they would be grateful to receive the compassion, kindness, patience, forgiveness, and love of the true Christian message (see Col. 3:12-17). We worship the Prince of Peace; our message should be worthy of Him.

  2. Doug,
    Often when people’s views are challenged, it can feel like an attack. My intention was not to attack you. In reading “What Message are You Sending?” I understood you to say that you were very much in support of our new president and very offended when a group e-mailed you because they were concerned about the things this new president stands for. I assumed that because you were so supportive of him, you must agree with what he stands for.

    There are no easy answers for people who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Loving support always involves wanting and doing what is best for all parties involved, as you said, the parents and the unborn child. As far as when life begins, one way to think about it would be at the point when there is no turning back. Much like the moment sugar is mixed with hot water and the sugar and the water then can not be separated into the parts they once were, after conception, there is no turning back. Life begins and continues to develop unless somehow prevented.

    Jesus consistently responded to sinners by lovingly telling them the truth. He was more interested in having them glorify God by acting the way God wanted them to act as outlined in the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus than in having them “feel good” about everything. One example of this would be when he told a group of those listening to him that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have life within them. A lot of them didn’t like the sound of this and started leaving. Jesus didn’t yell after them to come back so he could put it in more sugar-coated terms so they would feel better about it, he turned to Peter and asked him if he too wished to leave. Of course, Peter said no because he knew that Jesus had the words of everlasting life. Peter probably didn’t like the sound of what Jesus was saying either and surely didn’t understand it fully, but he stuck with him because he had faith and trusted that Jesus knew what he was doing.

    Jesus often pointed out the inconsistencies of the Pharisees by telling people to listen to what they said but not follow their example. It seems inconsistent to be against abortion yet supportive of a president who not only wants to keep it legal but wants to remove any restrictions already in place to limit it. Obama himself could easily have been a casualty of the very course he and his supporters at Planned Parenthood wish to take in passing the Freedom of Choice Act, (FOCA – check out the website, http://www.fightfoca.com to find out more about it) had abortion with no restrictions been legal when he was concieved. He was not a planned pregnancy. Some may feel that this is only one issue of many he wishes to pursue. If he said that he approved of terrorists and thought they should be able to express themselves as they saw fit, would people be interested in hearing about his health care plan or his views on education? Most likely, he wouldn’t be considered presidential material. He’d certainly have to clear up that terrorism thing before people would be interested in hearing anything else.

    Unborn children are human “beings.” Unfortunately for them they are not yet human “doings” or the current administration would give them more value. We as a nation need to value every human life simply because God has called it into existence. Everyone has value as a child of God simply in being! Without this understanding, anyone who can not prove their worth by being “useful” is subject to extermination by those who feel they are not worthy of protection. The elderly, the sick and infirmed, those born with mental and physical handicaps, etc., all face extermination if their lives are seen as worthless by those in power. Does that sound loving and supportive?

    If my words seem “harsh,” know that they are meant to bring the truth to light. Often times, the truth can be hard to take.
    Yours in Christ,

  3. Greetings all.
    I have to stand with Sue on this one Doug.

    To me your recent response to Sue sounds markedly different than what you wrote in your post originally:

    “I do my best to grow in my Christian faith each day. Does the fact that I hadn’t “undoubtedly wondered” about any of the issues raised in this e-mail advertisement make me a “bad” Christian? What about the next questions that crossed my mind: it was right to legislate the civil rights laws that made yesterday’s inauguration possible because that was an issue of justice, but is it right to legislate laws that address moral issues? Didn’t we try that during prohibition?

    This is a message of fear, plain and simple. This advertisement is judgmental and discriminatory. The good intentions of well-meaning people have been turned to other purposes by this message.”

    To me it certainly comes across like you don’t support the content / purpose of the ad in question — to oppose unjust laws. And since you didn’t make your true beliefs explicitly clear, I can understand why Sue may have been confused. I’m happy that you stand with Sue and the rest of us in condemning all forms of taking innocent human life (murder).

    That said, I do think Sue was right in using a strong tone in speaking the truth to you (even in error) or to anyone who feels abortion is acceptable / desirable, or even feels neutral (it’s not my problem). Yes, she might have seasoned her response with a softer, less-direct voice, but I think she was trying to be direct and on-point vis-a-vis the views she thought you were advancing.

    Something else. You also called her tone / demeanor into question and then switched over to an example of a scared pregnant teenager. For me this was a bit of a straw man, and disappointing. Sue wasn’t talking to a teenager – she was addressing you. And in my opinion her tone matched both her audience and intent. Pro-lifers (all Christians, and especially Catholics) have nothing but love and empathy for young mothers who find themselves in dark, difficult places. It’s unfair to imply that we don’t. And to imply that Sue somehow wasn’t (or isn’t) based on her response to you is simply uncharitable.

    We do indeed love and worship the Prince of Peace. And it is for that reason we must properly condemn violence, forcefully and directly when we are confronted with it, especially when it is done to the least of His children…on this I’m sure we all agree.
    — Tman

  4. […] My efforts to side with the Spirit have caused a great deal of resistance within me from my ego these past few weeks.  I’ve felt worn out and sick for a large portion of the last two weeks.  I lost confidence in my ability to express these new ideas and avoided posting to this blog.  Even my efforts to advocate the core Course principal of responding with love and not fear fell short in comments I exchanged with my friends in the post What Message Are You Sending? […]

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