We have all seen the pictures in the newspaper: People picketing carrying signs saying, “Gays are going to hell” and “Abortion is Murder”. My Facebook is flooded with articles about Josh Duggar calling him and all other Christians hypocrites. All this is doing is creating a mudslinging battle between the two sides which is fuelled by media reports, tabloids, and blogs. It is making an ugly world filled with giant cliques and populations that have an honest hate for each other.

In North America we have the beautiful power of free speech. It is this speech that allows us to stand up for what we believe in and not believe in. It allows us to speak to the government without fear of confinement or death. It allows us to choose to practice any religion or choose to not practice at all!
I really believe that with free speech comes great responsibility. Our words are very powerful and can colour one group with a certain crayon. Our words can devastate the young teenager who had an abortion to hate herself and commit suicide. Our words can cause the LBGT (Lesbians, bisexuals, gays, and transgendered) community feel hated and be bullied or even killed. Our words can make a family and the victims going through a horrible scandal lives a living hell.One of my favorite examples of free speech that I have ever seen was in my hometown Winnipeg. The Little Flowers Church organized an “I’m sorry” campaign in which they handed out roses at the Gay Pride Parade with a giant banner (news link at bottom of the page). In the article it is written:

“Christians who participate in the Foundation’s I’m Sorry campaign take the ‘I’m Sorry pledge,’ committing themselves to ‘listening to the stories of others and seeking to understand,’ striving to ‘make things better for the LBGT community,’ and affirming ‘God’s love for everyone.'”

Reading this is beautiful and brings tears to my eyes. If only as people we would all approach every situation with a rose. I believe that standing on a soap box just create walls of hate, but instead of hating we should be trying to understand. I myself often forget that behind the other side of the picket line is real people. Real people that have real lives and emotions. People that have their own personal story, journeys, and challenges.
As a human and Christian I feel called to love and not judge. In fact I feel like no matter what you believe that love and compassion should be the first reaction and trying to understand each and every individual. The beautiful Mother Teresa has said, “If you judge people you have no room to love them.”

As human beings we should stand up for our rights but in a way that respects and doesn’t dehumanize other people. It is okay to disagree with gay marriage or abortion but it’s a must to disagree in a respectful way that keeps the dignity of those on the other side of the fight. Like really, do we all have to write Josh Duggar hate mail!

React with a rose not with a thorn.

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/faith/christians-to-offer-apology-at-gay-pride-parade-208927091.html

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