Complex issues need personal soul searching

Published 12:01 am Sunday, June 28, 2015

A strange thing happened Saturday morning. The sun came up, and birds came out and sang, and the sky didn’t fall.

That’s right, despite all of the rhetoric flying around last week over the two hot-button issues, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Critics of calls to remove the Confederate flag from a corner of Mississippi’s state flag have used the issue to draw an imaginary line in the sand.

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They’ve claimed removing the flag from official display is kowtowing to the out-of-town liberal patsies who want everyone to get along.

Please don’t lump me into that group. I’m neither a liberal nor am I overly concerned with offending someone by sharing my opinion.

The beautiful part about America is that it’s OK to have an opinion outside the majority, or the controlling power.

Confederate flag supporters cry foul over issues of states’ rights — which is a little silly in this case as many, many Mississippians have suggested it’s time to retire the outdated and corrupted by haters’ symbol to a museum.

Others suggest taking down the flag would only be the first step in the politically correct police taking down lots of public, First Amendment rights.

Trying to connect the flag issue with the First Amendment is far-flung. Individuals are allowed to fly whatever flags they would like at their houses. The issue at hand is simply should the Confederate flag remain a part of our state’s official flag?

Call me a liberal, if you’d like, but to me the answer is, “No.”

Removing the flag doesn’t harm me, or my beliefs, one bit. Despite outlandish suggestions that this is “only the start,” Mississippi will still be Mississippi without the flag. The idea that antebellum houses and other such historic places will be razed in the effort to sanitize the unpleasant parts of our history is just about as silly of a notion as I’ve ever heard.

The more difficult issue for many — particularly Christians — to wrap their heads around is the matter of same-sex marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the practice should be allowed across the country, overturning a number of state-specific bans on the practice.

As a Christian, I believe homosexuality is wrong. It’s a sin.

But it’s of no greater degree than any other sin.

I was taught Christians should all love the sinner and hate their sins.

Sadly, though, far too many people are focusing on the wrong thing here. They’re focusing on the government instead of God.

Just because the two start with the same letter do not make them one and the same.

Decades ago the little g word and the big G word were more closely aligned. To be an American once meant you were living in a nation truly under God.

God hasn’t changed, but our nation sure has.

Perhaps there’s a lesson in it for all Christians.

Jesus told us that following him wouldn’t be easy. He said great sacrifice would be required and that persecution could follow.

Perhaps too many of us have been sucked into the vortex of mistruths of TV evangelists who preach a version of prosperity gospel — do good deeds for God and you’ll reap material rewards.

The challenge here is that God never promised anyone riches on earth. Heaven, yes, earth no.

Nor did God promise the faithful a government whose laws will perfectly align with God’s or protect them.

Perhaps all of the critics at the moment — critics of homosexuality, of same-sex marriage and of a government that gave its blessing to all — should take a deep breath, a step back and remember the two greatest commandments — love God and love your neighbors.

Those two seemingly simple, but humanly complex, tasks can make all the difference in the world, to us, to our neighbors and to God — regardless of the flag flying at the capitol or a law that encourages sinful behavior.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or