Matching Labels

A while back, I started following someone’s posts.  She used to work for an abortion clinic, then she quit that line of work as she concluded that abortion was murder.  What especially got on my nerves were her posts that said “if you (such-and-such), then you are not pro-life.”  “If you believe in exceptions to an anti-abortion law, then you may not be pro-life.”  And so on and so forth.

I found those posts to be a bit baffling.  I mean, why should I care if I fit her label of what is pro-life?  Why should I care whether or not I am fitting anyone’s label of pro-life, for that matter?  It’s just a label.  I’m not running for the Republican nomination of any political office, which would require me to show how I am more conservative or pro-life than someone else.  Consequently, why should I care if my beliefs meet a certain label?

I saw something similar in a blog post from another perspective.  A feminist was saying that, if you support legal restrictions on abortion, then you are not really a feminist.  Again, so what?  It’s a label, people!  If the feminist blogger has problems with legal restrictions on abortion, then that is understandable.  But saying people with certain points-of-view aren’t part of the feminist club?  I don’t see why people are so preoccupied with that.

Yet, I have to admit that I used to be the same way.  I would make judgments about whether people were true Republicans.  Now, on some level, that was understandable.  As a Republican, I wanted to vote for someone who was close to my definition of what counted as Republican ideology.  Fair enough.  But the problem was that, when I was debating liberal Republicans, I would accuse them of not being true Republicans.  Why did I do that?  Does meeting a label truly matter?  I should have just stuck with the issues!

There will come times when meeting a label will matter.  If you are running for the Republican nomination of something, then you will probably want to present yourself as the true conservative, and the other candidate as non-conservative.  If you are applying to teach at a conservative Christian seminary or to pastor a conservative Christian church, you may want to pass someone’s doctrinal tests of what counts as “Christian.”  Since I am not doing either of those things right now, I really don’t give a rip if my beliefs match someone’s label.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Matching Labels

  1. I like this post very much, it’s thoughtful, makes great points and aks great questions.

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  2. jesuswithoutbaggage says:

    When I was a fundamentalist, we believed most people who called themselves Christians were not ‘saved’ and, therefore, not ‘Christians’. For us Christians were people of our tribe and no one else. I think many people use labels to exclude even those with whom they have much in common.

    Like you, I wonder why I should care whether I fit someone else’s definition of a label.

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