SGA continues “Let’s Talk” series

By Jacob Factor, News Editor

On the outside, OBU’s community seems to some like a group of Christians who all think the same.

For others who have spent time on campus, like junior elementary education major Arielle Chastain, that that is not the case.

When Chastain got to OBU, she was surprised not every Christian on campus had the same opinions.

She said it’s okay for Christians to disagree on various issues, but it’s important they talk about their views with each other.

“It’s important for Christians to discuss this so they can realize we have different ideas on certain issues but we still have the same central view on Christ,” she said. “If we can all agree Christ is our Savior and He died for our sins, that’s the most important thing. Then all those other issues can be disagreeable, but it’s not going to determine our faith.”

This kind of reasoning is what started the “Let’s Talk” series, a discussion-based event covering different topics affecting our society and how Christians should approach these topics.

“Lot’s of times people speak and merely wait to speak again,” professor Paul Donnelly, one of the original founders of “Let’s Talk,” said to the Bison November 2017 before the first event. “They don’t really listen to what people have to say. One of the reasons our country is so divided is because we aren’t listening to one another or accepting people’s opinions as valid.”

Then-SGA president Hunter Doucette, another co-founder, had the same sentiment after the March 2018 “Let’s Talk” event.

“I find one of the hardest things to do, is to make others care about something that doesn’t directly touch them,” he said “Let’s Talk opens the eyes of students in many regards, to issues that they may never have been familiar with.”

After Doucette graduated May 2018, junior Clayton Myers was elected SGA president. Under Myer’s leadership, SGA has continued the “Let’s Talk” series. Myers said he wants to continue the series to encourage the open dialogue on campus between students with differing opinions.

“We want it to be good conversation starters that people can have thought-provoking ideas when they leave,” he said.

Chastain, who is also a member of SGA, said “Let’s Talk” can be a great way to give students an outlet to share their opinions.

“Everyone, regardless of what your view is, should come,” she said.“Your voice should be heard as well.”

In deciding a topic for this semester’s “Let’s Talk,” Myers said he looked to what’s going on in today’s top headlines: politics.

“There are a lot of things happening in the news a lot of people are divided on,” he said. A discussion about Christians’ take on politics, Myers said, is important. “It’s our way of how we can help take care of people,” he said. “Being active in politics is one way we (Christians) can take care of people.”

Chastain said she has found importance in discussing different opinions between Christians.

“Not all Christians are going to be on the same side,” she said.“Some Christians aren’t even going to choose a side.”

Hear from the students

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Arielle Chastain/Courtesy Photo

True Christians have the same faith in Jesus Christ, which Chastain said is the “top tier of our beliefs.” “Then, all those other issues can be disagreeable, but it’s not going to determine our faith.”

I wouldn’t be here if my family didn’t immigrate from Honduras. However, my family all went through the grueling process of becoming an American citizen. I’m not an advocate for open borders, but I am an advocate for making it easier for people to come in legally.

Humans do matter, regardless of where they come from. If you’re an illegal immigrant, am I going to treat you any less than you are? Absolutely, not. We should be advocates for Christ.

It’s not my duty to tell them to go back to where they came from because that’s not Christlike.

At that point, it’s my duty to advocate for Christ and share the gospel with them.

I don’t think Chris-tians should be pro-wall because it hinders the ability to share Christ. We can’t have open borders either, so we have to have a happy medium.

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Tyra Givings/Courtesy photo

The association with specific political parties comes with an assumed agreement with every ideal supported by the said political party. This applies also to denominational separation in the Christian faith.

When I claim a specific group as part of what I believe or stand for, I am co-signing ideas that I may not even be aware that I am agreeing with.

I think it is important, as a Christian, to be wary when deciding what to put our names on. I can not co-sign to all of the ideals of the republican or democratic party, so why give anyone even the slightest idea that I am willing to? Instead, I can co-sign to Christ and place all of my belief in His word, claiming that when people ask me my ideals.

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Clayton Myers/Courtesy Photo

Vote on your convictions. There’s never going to be a perfect person who’s wholesome and shows every Christian value. Blade raised the question, “If you vote for a pro-choice candidate, is that a sin?” I can’t say yes or no to that, but if you’re convictions are to vote for that person, not because of that one thing, but because of the other things, versus someone who’s pro-life but you disagree with other things they do, it’s just a matter of convictions of a person.

 

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Joy Rhoades/Courtesy Photo

A lot of times when you think about voting, you think about the higher level instead of the state and local level and how you can make a difference here.

To me, that’s way more important be-cause that’s how we get our candidates. Voting is a key part of society, and as Christians, we need to be a part of society. If you have not participated in any election before, do it now.

Even the small elec-tons we have here at SGA, participate in those because it gives you practice and experience necessary to make decisions when it comes to the presidency. You have to take steps to learn about how to do it, because politics is a part of life.

 

Luke Miao
Luke Miao/Courtesy Photo

“From a scriptural perspective, the pro-social justice side is right about some things, while the Chris-tian moral side is right about others.

If we were to detach any political ties between the terms “Christian moral” or “social justice,” literal Christian morality is the reason why certain social justice causes are necessary.

For example, being generally pro-immigration (not meaning pro-open borders) and minority racial rights/inclusion is the embodiment of Christian morality. The Bible tells us to welcome the sojourner and to treat the foreigner as you would a native of your land.

The Bible also tells us that there is “neither Jew nor Gentile” and that all were one in Christ.

The Bible is quite clear on these two issues and if current social justice movements entail those two, we should readily embrace it as Christians.

However, at the same time, we need to be wary of certain aspects of social justice movements, especially with abortion.

There should be systems in place to help mothers who aren’t able to handle rearing a child on their own get the means to raise a child properly and healthily, which would discourage many abortions in the first place.

So, my take is a biblical take. Where the Bible aligns with current social justice movements are places where Christians ought to align themselves with the social justice stance. Where the Bible aligns with current “Christian morality” movements are places where Christians ought to align themselves.

I don’t staunchly align myself to either side of this polarization because while both sides are right on certain things, they also both embrace rabidly unbiblical principles at the same time as well.”

 

 

Let’s Talk: A ceasefire on gun control, A series of conversations on hard topics

By Jonathan Soder, Faith Co-Editor  (Courtesy Photo/Creative Commons)

Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland – in the last six months each of these towns has felt the pain gun violence brings to a community. Each incident has sparked national conversation, and each time talks have been reduced to a country-wide shouting match between gun control proponents and gun rights supporters, just as it has after shootings past. With history seemingly bound and determined to repeat itself in this way, how can both sides contribute to effective conversations about gun control?

First, because there are several facets to this issue, the core topic in this national debate must be identified. Associate professor of political science Dr. Chris McMillion said the conversation is currently focused on how to interpret the second amendment which says:

“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

There are two camps of thought. Gun control supporters latch onto the phrase “a well-regulated militia” and argue that civilian access to guns ought to be limited, or completely banned, because this phrase doesn’t necessarily confer individual rights to gun ownership.

On the other side of things, gun rights proponents claim that the 2nd amendment does in fact impart individual rights to gun ownership. They draw support from the 2008 Supreme Court decision of the case District of Columbia v. Heller, which was 5-4 in favor of individual gun rights.

In the national conversation, these two positions have been construed as having conflicting aims, when in reality, McMillion said, both are trying to protect the same thing – liberty.

“For those who make the gun control argument, it seems that there is a conception of liberty that insists on protecting the right of individuals to be safe from firearm violence,” Mc-Million said. “…That a right to life and to general protection of liberty is impossible if you constantly need to be concerned about dangerous individuals in possession of firearms who could interfere with your life or end it.”

On the other side, McMillion said, gun rights supporters seek to protect this same life and liberty, but through the arming of individuals in order to suppress the possibility of the uprising of a tyrannical government regime. This view reflects upon America’s history and struggle against British rule during the Revolutionary War.

One approach, which both McMillion and assistant professor of biblical and theological studies Dr. Matthew Arbo said is necessary to have effective conversation, is for both sides to open up to compromise.

“If we understand that we’re dealing with competing [philosophical] conceptions in this particular circumstance… [and] it’s not clear which of these perspectives should absolutely hold true, I think we open the ground for compromise,” McMillion said. “For finding more decisions and mechanisms to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, while simultaneously not parting with the conception of the individual right that seems so critical to others.”

While gun rights supporters may need to admit a need for greater inhibitions to purchasing guns, Dr. Paul Donnelly, assistant professor of criminal justice, says that the national conversation needs to steer away from the topic of mental health – one of the favorite arguments of gun control advocates at present.

“A very small percentage of people with mental illness harm others and even more rare are those who are mass shooters,” Donnelly said. “This comes into focus when comparing rates of mental health disorders in other countries who have similar mental health issues but almost no mass shootings of the type that are becoming a regular occurrence here in the United States.”

Donnelly, who served in New Jersey as executive director of the Juvenile Justice Commission and in Texas as Deputy Director of the Texas Commission on Children and Youth, said that focusing on mental health alone is too narrow. If discussed, it must be viewed in light of other factors.

“Like many difficult problems in our world, we want simple explanations to complex problems, followed by quick fixes,” Donnelly said.

Racial stereotypes also must be re-examined.

“There is something unique happening to many of our young white boys in this country, that is not happening anywhere else in the world. Guns and mental health are important areas for examination and problem-solving. However, the problem of mass shootings in the U.S. is the culmination of many things.”

Paralleling McMillion’s statement that the gun control debate is fundamentally philosophical, Arbo said that one thing Christians, in particular, must understand is that conversations on this topic are “moral discourse.” For Christians, the standard of morality comes first from God, not the law.

“Either those commands about how to care for life matter deeply to us or they don’t,” Arbo said. “Our freedom is to be used to honor God, to make His name known, whether in deed or in word.”

Consequently, gun owner or not, Christians are to live out their convictions on this issue in a manner that honors God. Part of honoring God for Christians, according to Romans 12:18, is to actively pursue peace “with all men.”

“In a general sense, when we are called upon to be the ‘addresser,’ we need to consider the example Paul gave us on Mars Hill,” professor of communication arts Dr. Vickie Ellis said. “Paul role-modeled how we should follow God, engage people where they are, find a place of agreement and then share with love, truth and conviction.”

“Additionally, I don’t believe there is a Christian monolith regarding the issue of gun control. That’s another reason we need to join the conversation.”

This is the second installment in the Let’s Talk article series. Students may suggest topics for future articles by emailing jonathan.soder@okbu.edu