Today I lost a friend. Figuratively speaking, that is.
I got a message on Facebook from a woman I have known since I was about ten years old. In the message, she said that she was sad to inform me that she was going to have to "unfriend" me because she didn't want to constantly be subjected to my political views. She went on to say that she found Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party to be reprehensible and that they were attempting to systematically rip apart the fabric of our nation. She also said that they were attempting to undo the great strides that we as a nation had taken in the last generation. If she had stopped there, I probably would not have been offended. I do not expect my political views to make me any friends, nor do I expect even people I know well to want to constantly talk politics. But the message went on...
"So when we choose to express our political or religious beliefs in the public forum, we risk offending and alienating our audience (and for what reason other than strutting our stuff!) by possibly treading all over their different beliefs without invitation. I learned this in my '50's, and I hope that you will learn it much earlier by discontinuing making your Facebook page a stage for your political views."
She is not the first "friend" I have lost over politics, either. A guy I knew in high school dropped off my Facebook page shortly after a debate we had over the Healthcare bill that passed in March of 2010. He was a liberal on all issues but the sanctity of life, and he was arguing for the healthcare plan. I was outraged over the legal maneuvering being advocated by Congress to force the passage of the bill, and the comment I made was something like this: "Any elected official who is willing to subvert the Constitution for personal or political gain should be tried for treason and, upon conviction, be hanged on the White House lawn." As a law student who was staunchly opposed to the death penalty in any form, he said he doubted he could continue to talk to me since it was obvious that I advocated cruelty. I reminded him that claiming to be pro-life until another issue superseded that one indicated that he advocated cruelty as well. "At least the cruelty I 'advocate' is directed at someone who has done something to warrant it," was my response. That was one of the last times we ever spoke.
I was reminded, suddenly, of a recent conversation I had with my mother. She told me that perhaps I should temper my commentary in order to offend fewer people. I understand her point, and I do believe that it is foolish to post that which you know to be inflammatory for the sole purpose of offending others. But it is also foolish to compromise the truth in order to avoid offending others.
My husband pointed out that it lines up very well with C.F.W. Walther's sermons on the subject of the law and the Gospel. The truth inherent in the law is offensive to people - but it is the offensive nature of that truth that drives the understanding that the Gospel is necessary.
Likewise, in terms of politics, we must first be made aware of what is wrong with America before we recognize the depth of the need for something right. If we ignore all that which offends us, we are only availing ourselves to half of the information at best. If we subvert the truth in an attempt to be less offensive, then we are just as guilty as those who actively spread the falsehoods we are attempting to arm people against.
There are those who will hate us for the truth we tell. There are those who will lash out at us, call us names, or simply disappear from our lives. The cost of conservatism, like the cost of truth, can be steep. But choose to accept it, and you can pay that price up front. Deny it, and you will still be forced to pay it later - only on someone else's terms rather than your own.