How Open Minded Are We?

The line that my progressive colleagues seemingly use excessively is that our fundamentalist brothers and sisters need to be more open minded. Whether this is a fair statement or not: it seems like we progressives characterize ourselves of being more open minded than our counterparts. If we are asking the other side to be more open minded, we're insinuating that our minds are open and they have a bit of catching up to do. Last weekend, I attended our annual training workshops held by our district. I went to a workshop on advocacy and Biblical justice focused on the issue of homosexuality. And every single person in attendance was on the same side of this issue — because we are the open-minded ones, right? We were the ones that needed to get everyone to “evolve” and urge our churches to sign up to officially be acknowledged as a reconciling ministry. Then the leader of the workshop talked about a debate he was invited to on CNN and mentioned that the person for the other side was a Southern Baptist pastor from Dallas. Now, as soon as he said “Southern Baptist” the entire room (and I'm not exaggerating here) let out a collective groan of: “oooh” And then after “From Dallas” people let out a condescending laugh (all topped with eye rolls that usually accompanies such reactions). To which the person leading the workshop let out an awkward, “I know, right?”

And that so rubbed me the wrong way. There was never a time set apart for discussion in the workshop — no Q&A section — which may have been better for me, because there was no way I was going to NOT talk about everyone's reaction given the chance.

I guess what's eating at me is — how much more open minded are we if we scoff at the mere mention of someone who is on the opposite side of a debate with us? Aren't we being as close minded as we're accusing “them” of being? How can there be any hope of resolution; unity; peace; harmony; agreement to lovingly disagree; if such a hard line in the sand is drawn and we can't even bring ourselves to withhold our disdain at the mention of a name/denomination/organization/ of those on the other side? How much more different are we from the Lawyer in Luke 10 that couldn't even bring himself to say the name: “Samaritan?”

That doesn't strike me as us being as open minded as we claim to be. The road to unity may be long and hard — and truthfully, we may never get there. But we're sure not making it any easier by being dismissive to those who may not think like us. That sounds like the exact opposite of keeping an open mind.

5 thoughts on “How Open Minded Are We?

  1. Thanks, Joseph. As a regular reader and sometimes commenter and one who seems to be on the “other” side of the debate, I appreciate your kindness and the way you are thinking through things.

  2. Well, since Jesus came to Reconcile the world to Him…. Why would there be a debate on reconciling ? Either you are with Jesus and His ministry of Reconciliation or you ain’t …. Either you are doing it … or you are not.

  3. Good blog, you make a good point; I wonder how you as a speaker have reacted when you encountered a similar reaction during one of your speeches/sermons. Did you chide or education your audience?

    1. It depends.
      If it was a sermon, I would’ve added — with awkward humor — “that was an interesting response” and continued — kinda of what you did. (Your response, I assumed, was more of a OKAY, let’s keep moving vs. an “I KNOW, RIGHT?”I also figured that your message was more designed as a sermon than a discussion-involving talk/message/lecture).

      If it was more a open discussion, It’d be worth to take a moment and challenge the folks and say the same thing, “that was an interesting response” but follow up with, “Now, why did we all give a knee jerk reaction like that?”

      To which, the common response would most likely be along the lines of — they’ve trained us to react that way by their actions and words that are anything but affirming and loving.

      Then, I’d end that little tangent by quoting a great philosopher by the name of John Cena and ask that we “rise above the hate.”

      PS — Please don’t waste your time and google John Cena. Lol. You’re better off not knowing who he is (but if you must, he is a WWE wrestler)

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