Remember playground arguments about whether a ball was fair our out-of-bounds?
It was fair!
Are you crazy? Clearly, it was foul!
Each side is firmly convinced that it had the true view of the play. Of course, there is no objective umpire on a playground, so friendly games can easily become angry arguments.
In America today we have similar disagreements over the boundaries of ethical, moral and behavioral norms. Our society is like an increasingly pluralistic and diverse playground, and we don’t always agree on how to resolve differences in value systems and perspectives.
Who makes the rules on our pluralistic playground?
I began to ponder this as I observed reaction to Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s comments on marriage about a month ago. The Chick-fil-A story is old news, I know, but the discussion surrounding Cathy’s remarks reminds me of a playground argument.
Gay rights activists and those on their team cried, Foul! Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel purposefully and publicly drew a boundary between what he thinks is “fair” and what he thinks is “foul” and decreed it for the millions of people living in Chicago.
Others insisted Cathy’s remarks were well within fair territory. They further noted that his comments were not “anti” anyone, but simply affirming of traditional marriage.
Free to disagree
Our constitution comes closest to playing the role of umpire on our pluralistic playground with its guarantee of free expression of religion and free speech. Thankfully, some opinion makers and editorial writers respect that fundamental American value.
The Chick-fil-A story highlights just one issue in which various interests disagree over where to place the line between “fair” and “foul.” My focus here is not to argue about where this particular line should be drawn. Instead, I’m wondering how a pluralistic society best handles the discussion.
How will we get along in our communities, respecting each others’ belief systems and yet agreeing on mutually acceptable public boundaries? Furthermore, how should Christians put forth biblical truth and values for consideration in such a diverse environment?
In my next post, I’ll consider some of the most influential voices in our cultural conversations. Finally, in part three, I hope to tackle the challenging question of how Christians should engage in the discussion.
I invite you to ponder these issues with me, for I have far more questions than answers. Any thoughts?
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18