There seems to be much division in our community today over the issue of whether to allow a so-called Gay-Straight Alliance club into our local school system.

It seems to me to be an excellent opportunity for just the opposite: more unity.

Does that mean that I personally support the homosexual lifestyle?

Hardly.

I personally think it is a sin, that God fully intends for marriage to be between man and woman, and that anything contrary is an obstacle to His plans for family and His teachings. I further believe that gay people do have the power to make such a choice, and I detest seeing gay acts of affection practiced in public in front of me or my children.

I also think green chili is better than red.

I think it's obvious that October-sky blue is the prettiest color.

I think that Jeeps are better than Humvees.

I prefer Chevy to Ford.

Dr. Pepper over Mr. Pibb.

Checkers is more fun than chess.

Baseball is the greatest sport.

I believe that Tchaikovsky is the most classic among the classics, and I further believe he could be good at bluegrass.

Trigger was cooler than Roy Rogers.

Chocolate ice cream is better when mixed with fudge brownie.

Twilight is prettier than dawn.

Autumn rules.

And I get more handsome with age and less hair.

Can I have a big, fat "so what!?" to all that?

God bless America, God bless free speech, and God bless freedom.

Next?

***

Folks, this is America.


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America is all about different people, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.

Folks, this is the United States.

Fifty very different states, united under one flag, with liberty and justice for all.

Someone shared with me a good joke the other day.

What's the difference between your dog and certain family or friends when they're at the back door while a storm is brewing?

Answer: When you let them in, the dog quits whining.

It seems we sometimes lose focus with our energies and the real target of our concerns.

If we're gay, we worry because nobody understands us and there is so much hatred and lack of tolerance.

If we're anti-gay, we worry because we feel we're locked in religious battle to stand for what is right.

If we're "we," we figure it out together, without hate.

No, we can't all just get along. Ancient history proves that.

But there is another way.

***

Each Sunday, when I'm in town, I lead a Bible study group at First Baptist Church in Farmington.

I'm a confessed sinner, so believe me, as I told the class, it is more often I'm there for selfish needs than not.

You're more than welcome, whoever you are, whatever you are, to join us. Likewise, I appreciate the kind invitations of late I have received from a couple of Catholic acquaintances and at least one Mormon, who wanted to share with me their viewpoints.

Interestingly enough, our Bible study group is covering some sensitive topics at the moment.

Pornography.

Abortion.

Homosexuality.

Assisted suicide.

Racism.

Civic duty.

Christian influence.

Statistics show that the church, any church, mirrors mainstream society and is full of men and women who consistently view pornography. It's so much easier to do these days, and besides, who will know? What does it hurt?

Statistics also show that quite a large number of you women reading this, no matter how you feel about it, have had an abortion, experienced sexual trauma of some kind, or have experienced abuse and/or divorce.

Racism predates the Good Samaritan, therefore it's not like anything has changed there.

So what do we do on the church level? Ask everyone in the building who has downloaded porn this week, who married the wrong idiot, who made a stupid mistake on that passionate date and then made it worse, or who caught themselves mistrusting someone because of skin color, to all stand and exit now?

The lesson I personally learned in the last study session was this: It starts with the heart.

Otherwise, it doesn't matter what you say.

It doesn't matter what you do.

It matters most where your heart is, and that affects everything else from there, whether you really are doing it in God's name, in the school's name, or in your mother's name. Know where your heart truly sits.

***

There are kids today, and adults, who choose to swim upstream while the currents are rushing downstream.

We should try to understand why before we build dams.

My teachings tell me I should hate the sin, and love the sinner.

Thank God there were people who felt that way about me during various stages of my own life.

What about you?

I'm going to pray for and stand by these kids because that goes with my beliefs. Those of you with different beliefs about religion had better understand one thing, and that is that you still live in America, a land of freedoms.

We must be careful of playing judge.

What you can do, is work to understand people different from you. Then, you can try to influence them, and you know what?

If they see your heart, and they find it to be an understanding heart filled with love and of something they want to experience, then guess what? They might actually listen.

I've never seen hate accomplish the same.

So, the free-speech journalist in me says to them, yes, have your club. Help me to better understand you and try to better understand me. You've got your feelings, and I darn sure have mine. Let's compare notes sometime.

I may not like your lifestyle, and you might not like me.

But I do respect your freedom of speech. I have to, because I love America.

And I most certainly agree that tools to promote tolerance — not promote a lifestyle, but tolerance — are critical for throwing a life jacket to our kids who feel they are drowning alone in a sea of hate.

Let's move on, folks. The real problems we have start at home.

Beginning with our hearts.

If we get that right as a collective community, I promise, things will get better.

Just one man's opinion ...

Troy Turner is the editor of The Daily Times. He can be contacted at P.O. Box 450, Farmington, N.M., 87499; or at tturner@daily-times.com.