Q. I have one friend that believes that gays are sinners and if they had faith they wouldn't be gay. I believe that gays are gay because a gene made them that way and since it's part of God's design it cannot be wrong. I could go on for a hour telling you how many of my friends think different then I do...But I still value them and they are my friends...I have to do and believe what makes me feel right and their beliefs are theirs. What do you think?
A. No one should get mad at another person for disagreeing. People tend to get mad at others for their opinion on three occasions.
First, when they lack confidence and are not sure how to interact with others skillfully. They tend to see everything as a slight, or aimed at them, and they find it difficult to deal with opinions other than their own. So they might get mad instead, especially if they find it difficult to put their own views forward to influence others. They would tend to react aggressively to get their point across.
Second, dictatorial bullying types of people who believe they are always right and have to force their views on others by getting mad at them. It is difficult to have different views at those times because people who believe they have the only acceptable views will shout others down to impose those views.
Third, if their beliefs are diametrically opposed to that of others, which sounds like your situation. But beliefs are not trivial things. Beliefs stand at the heart of who we are, they form our identity and they give us what we value. If we compromise them to suit others, we will either be like those people in the end, for a quiet life, or we will begin to doubt our own logic and values, which would then make us feel inadequate. My mother used to tell me: "Show me your company, and I'll tell you who you are," and I've never forgotten it. It has helped me to anchor myself to my values, to know who I am and to go with the right crowd that reflects who I wish to be.
If your friends are anti-gay in their approach, sooner or later you will be branded as anti-gay too by association, no matter what you personally believe. Not only that, but our sense of justice is fundamental and if you ignore your sense of fair play simply to be part of a group, you will begin to hate yourself, especially when you have to constantly defend those views to others who don't subscribe to them, or you are likely to ditch your views to belong. Soon you'll have to make a choice because the hassle will prove too much getting mad at them, or being angry by what they are saying.
Perhaps it is time to change your friends? Real friends reflect who we are, they share our fundamental beliefs, though they might differ in the less important ones, they uplift us, affirm us and reinforce us in our identity. They make us feel great to be in their company. They value what we say and what we contribute and, above all, they make us feel good about ourselves. If your friendship with that group isn't doing all of that, you really need to find another more suitable group of friends.
As you say, you have to do and believe what makes you feel right if it is always at odds with the views of your friends, what kind of friendship is that? You also do not have the right to impose your views on them, neither do they have the right to impose their views on you, which is why we tend to gravitate towards like-minded people as friends.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms Cyprah)
Emotional Health Adviser
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"