It’s been awhile since I wrote that blog post on saying “no,” and I want to go back to the topic now. Re-reading it, I keep thinking about the right to disagree with people.
When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free. — Charles Evans Hughes
So often during this “no” experiment I have been running, I have gotten push-back that my “no” meant something was wrong with me. For instance, “No, I dislike wearing bikinis,” or “No, I actually like archeology more than sports,” have branded me as either a sheltered weirdo or some kind of heretic.
Just playing devil’s advocate, here, but what if it’s perfectly fine to not like what some other people like? What if being myself is not intended as a judgment on other people? What if being myself is something I owe to God?
I am not talking about the rightness of moral choices, here. That would be a whole different post for another day.
Too many times, on matters that don’t involve moral right and wrong (such as the fact that I like sushi or the fact that I own floral print pants), I have let other people bully me. People I have loved have made me feel that I would lose their support, love, or goodwill if I went public with a “like” that they don’t share. Sometimes I have called their bluff. Maybe I am kind of doing that right now.
Who I Am
I trace it back to a basic but often overlooked tenet in Christianity. I believe that God made me as I am (Psalm 138:14) and was responsible for the formative experiences that entered my life to mold my character and skills (2 Samuel 22: 33-35). He did this because He had a unique purpose for me that might not be the same as someone else (Ephesians 2: 10; 1 Corinthians 12: 12-28, particularly verse 18). These are just some sample verses about those topics, but I’m sure an industrious Bible student could find more.
I have come to the understanding (perhaps the reaffirmation?) that as long as my conscience is clear before God, I am fine just as I was created to be, even if everyone around me thinks there’s something wrong with me. I recognize that I am too short, too thin, too heavy, too young, too old, too well-educated, too under-educated, too conservative, and too opinionated for some. So, yeah, I am an acquired taste. I like people who are acquired tastes. Maybe people just need to stop shopping for peaches in the apple orchard.
Representing the Peaches
I also think that by being honest about who I am, as opposed to a kind of conformity through social compulsion, I am letting it be known that I am, unashamedly, a certain kind of person. This lets other people of the same kind know that it’s okay to be themselves with me. It might even send up a kind of bat signal to let other people know there is another of their kind in the area. I am still hopeful about that one.
Looking back at the 1 Corinthians 12: 12-28 passage I referenced earlier, it is okay for one person to be the eyeball and another to be an ear (just using Paul’s metaphors, here). Neither is less valuable than the other, since differences of this kind are needed for a healthy functioning group, church, and society. In that regard, being myself would be a way of helping others with my unique talents — talents they lack and may not even know they need.
I feel the need to point out, again, that I am not talking about moral stances, here. Neither was Paul. A difference that is born of a moral choice to sin is not behavior the way God intended; it would be like a cancer in the body. Doing those things God made me to do (again citing Ephesians 2:10) should not put me in the neighborhood of crushing someone else for doing what God made them to do.
So what am I saying, here? There will come a day when those of you who love football season will be able to use that knowledge to a good purpose (to bond with someone in need of a friend, for instance) and I will be able to use my knowledge of WWII history and logic to change a mind from logical and ethical error (still hoping for that one). Both of us have a reason for knowing so much about what we know, and neither of us is broken for knowing it.
Maybe we each love so many different things for the simple reason that God loves diversity. I find myself thinking about that every time I see a PBS nature documentary about some weird, brightly-colored animal or plant. We could live in a world where all plants were green, all flowers were white, all birds were brown, and so forth, but it pleased God to make a variety. I think He did the same for all of us.
Bottom line: I believe God made me who I am, down to my abilities, interests, and personality, and I see being true to that as a freedom God granted to me. Do you think there is a moral imperative to stand up for the person God made you to be, even when others tell you that you are broken?