Our current political climate has become extremely divisive and polarized. I know how easy it is to be consumed by the culture. In fact, if we stay close to those who mostly align with how we think, and get our intake from only relevant and supporting sources, it tends to lock us in and make it difficult for independent thought.
This sets us up for tribalism, one tribe against the other, liberal versus conservative. It’s loyalty to the tribe or death; well, almost. One side is right, and the other side is wrong. There is no nuance, nothing in-between, it’s one side or the other.
I have seen people admittedly unfriend people on social media because their opposing views just cannot be reconciled. I have also unfriended some, not because our views cannot be reconciled, but because I thought that they would not entertain a different perspective, and they literally demonized the other side.
What happened to us? Have we always been this divisive, polarized? I don’t know. I do know that we all have biases, and that our biases are usually shaped and formed by our environment, be it family, church, socioeconomic status. Twenty-four cable news has also played a part, probably a big part, especially if we find ourselves watching those channels that only align with us. Do we dare watch the opposing channel or seek a more neutral source?
Just ten years ago, America elected its first black president. It was historic, but even during that election, we saw, I saw, cracks being exposed within the McCain/Palin campaign. For me, watching the rallies back then was scary. Demonizing the democratic candidate as a terrorist was par for the course during that election. However, it also displayed one of the late Senator John McCain’s finer moments, when he corrected the woman who suggested that then candidate, Senator Barack Obama, was an Arab, a terrorist.
Since then, we’ve delved even deeper into the polarization and demonization of the other side. Rallies during this last presidential election were the worst I’ve seen.
Currently, we are on the brink of our next Supreme Court Justice. Both sides have come out swinging. There was an allegation of a sexual assault against the nominee. Although, I believe her, there was no one that corroborated her allegation, even though this was not a trial. So, the issue for the senate at hand is to advise and consent on whether the nominee is fit for this lifetime appointment based on the hearings, findings of the investigations, review of his records and written opinions. However, because of where we are, some will find a vote to confirm as a vote against women.
Somehow, even as I watched on TV, Senator Flake being confronted by women alleging that they too were sexual assault survivors, and that a vote for the nominee was a vote against them, I did not see it that way. It really was a “false choice” as Senator Ben Sasse stated from the Senate floor. But that is where we are.
Full disclosure: I’ve been a conservative Democrat most of my life, but have not always voted along party line. Early in my voting years, another Christian, when he learned that I was Democrat, questioned how could I then be a Christian? I have to admit too, there was a time that I questioned a couple of people how they could be a Republican, but it had nothing to do with them being Christian.
What have I learned and am learning from us and God? We all have biases. We must be cognizant of our biases and how they color how we view things. We must seek out and not be afraid to hear opposite and various views. Be aware that we have blindspots. Talk to someone who is not afraid to let us know. Know that there is no Christian political party, and let that serve as a reminder of our status as pilgrims passing through.
Joshua’s Outpost blog warned in a post Does the Bible Warn Against Division – “If you’re a Christian who is heavily involved in politics; first stay true to God’s commandments, and secondly, be conscience of what your words and actions might do.” Yes, we must always live out our lives biblically, and let its truths and principles form our worldview, and yes too, we must be conscious of our words and actions. Remember, even though we have the cover of safety behind a screen, our words matter.
This week, I was listening to a sermon by John Piper on Romans 14, that speaks volumes especially to those of us who enjoy political engagement.
Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. Romans 14:5b KJV
My personal Bible reading this week from the book of Ephesians perfectly speaks to how to douse the divisiveness.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 31-32 ESV
Last Sunday night, one our pastors said in his sermon: “If you can’t have a social media account without being quick to judge or being easily angered, then STOP IT, CUT IT OFF.”
So, for me now, it’s off with the cable news, and more HGTV. Of course, then I will have to guard against coveting….