Stay silent or speak out?

speak-only-if-it-improves-the-silence-poster-SP001VGThis weekend I attended a family gathering where I had the lone dissenting opinion when it came to matters of religion and politics, two subjects that are best left out of dinner table discussions but often come up anyway.  It felt like I was being teamed up against, when in fact, several family members just had a different opinion than I did on things like who to vote for in the upcoming presidential election.  My books are contemporary novels based on Old Testament stories in the Bible, so of course they deal with controversial topics like unfaithfulness in a marriage (in The Faithful One), right to life vs. right to choose (in The Peace Maker), and gay relationships and Islamic radical terrorism (in The Runaway Prophet)…and as a result, I’m sometimes questioned on my political and/or religious views.  You may be able to tell my relatively conservative Christian leaning in my novels, but I do try to be open to various points of view and not be judgmental of others, and I hope as a result my books are universally appealing to all readers. In discussions though, sometimes it’s harder for me to stay silent than to voice my opinion, and sometimes it’s easier, not wanting to “rock the boat.” During this particular discussion, I felt myself swaying back and forth from being defensive to almost feeling like maybe my beliefs were “wrong” and perhaps I should be ashamed of them (like Peter when he denied Christ three times before the cock crowed.)  I hope I’m never faced with a situation in which I am forced to stand up for my faith or else…like businesses that are being forced to choose between  their religious beliefs and keeping their doors open, or worse, like the Christians being slaughtered by Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East for their belief in Christ. I hope to learn from Saint Peter, not to deny Christ and my beliefs. And yet, sometimes, if you’re just getting louder without getting anywhere, it’s best to stay silent. (like Jesus did when facing the accusations of the Sanhedrin: “Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’  But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.” Of course, when pressed for the fourth or fifth time, Jesus does finally answer: “Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’  ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven’.” And then He was tortured and crucified.) Today I pray that I can remain silent when I know my words are merely coming from my bruised ego or will escalate an argument, but to stand firm and defend my beliefs when it really matters…and as Ghandi also says, to “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” 

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