We know the three topics we can’t talk about in public: sex, politics and religion.
One of my favorite (and humorous) lawyers, Bob Steed, wrote a book called “Money, Power and Sex: A Self-help Guide for All Ages.” In his introduction he stated that his book has nothing to do with sex, but he knew the title would help him sell his book.
Sex sells. So do politics and religion. Why? Well, because all three topics are so controversial. Everybody has an opinion, and that opinion -- watch out -- is absolutely correct. But other topics are not that incendiary. I can listen intently to an IT expert explain how to use my new iPhone and never contradict him. I can change my mind on country music after visiting Nashville. I can do a complete 360 in my views on surfboarding, high-diving, wrestling and snorkeling once I try these things. But it’s difficult to change my mind on sex, politics or religion.
Take sex, for instance. How do you feel about interracial marriage? How about pre-marital sex? And then there’s adultery and abortion and gay marriage. We could talk for hours about sexual positions and sex toys and porn. Just think of all the opinions we could have on each one of these topics and all the arguments we could have. And each one of us would be absolutely “right.” There would be no compromise, no shifting of opinion, no changing of minds. Afterwards, all of us would walk away more convinced than we were before.
And politics. Do you watch Fox News or MSNBC? Are you a tea party Republican or a Nancy Pelosi Democrat? Who do you blame for our failed economy, Bush or Obama? How do you evaluate last November’s election? Was it a mandate for Republicans or a fluke because of poor turnout? Do we need “more government protection” or “less government interference”? Whose fault is it that our Congress has been such a miserable disgrace, the Republican House or the Democratic Senate? Let’s analyze Benghazi or the IRS or Obamacare or immigration or taxation or the border and watch the fireworks.
And then there’s religion. Get a Southern Baptist to discuss the age of the universe with a moderate Baptist, or a liberal Catholic to discuss gays with a conservative Catholic. Sparks fly and tempers flare, and seldom is there any real “Christian charity.”
Another great discussion would be this question: How many black churches in Macon welcome white people and vice versa? Why is 11 a.m. Sunday morning the most segregated hour of the week? Isn’t religion supposed to bring us together? Or does it just bring us together to fight?
We are all polarized around our own opinions and convictions. Have you ever wondered why that is? Why do these three topics bring out the worst in us and reduce some of us to cursing and shouting and others to tears and still others to shame and embarrassment? Is it because we are arrogant and therefore blind to the facts, or is it because we are so highly principled and disciplined in our thinking? How can we tell? How can we measure our objectivity?
When I believed in papal infallibility -- in the face of factual evidence to the contrary -- I believed I was not only “right” but intellectually and spiritually superior to all those infidels who argued against me, and believe me, we argued a lot. Was I illogically arrogant or nobly principled?
How about you? Are you objectively open in discussing all three topics?
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