Sunday, December 29, 2019

The most important things...and politics

David French in "Politics Is a Jealous God":
.... The Pew Research Center has been tracking American polarization, and it’s quite clear that mutual loathing is widespread and getting worse. A whopping 91 percent of Republicans have very unfavorable or unfavorable views of the Democratic Party—with the “very unfavorable” rating almost tripling between 1994 and 2016 (increasing from 21 percent to 58 percent.) A full 86 percent of Democrats have very unfavorable or unfavorable views of the Republican Party, and the “very unfavorable” has more than tripled, moving from 17 percent to 55 percent. ....

Moreover, the animosity is deeply personal, not just institutional. ....

In other words, the idea that a person is “good, but wrong” or even “decent, but wrong” is vanishing. Instead, the conventional wisdom is that our political opponents are “terrible and wrong.” Our opponents not only have bad policies, they are bad people. ....

Here’s an interesting test. In examining your own personal engagement with your political opponents, how much of it is characterized by these commands, first from Jesus:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
Next, from Paul:
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.
And finally, from the prophet Micah?
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Time and again, we see Christians in public life shed even the pretense of upholding those values. The times are too dire, we’re told. The stakes of the culture war are too great. Political identity is the unmoved mover. Political success is the paramount necessity. Under this formulation, virtues like kindness and love are relegated to the status of mere tactics, to be discarded the instant they’re not seen to work. ....

This presidential election year will tax the church. It will tax our nation. A Christian who is properly engaged in politics seeks justice, but he or she does so with love and without fear. When we fail to uphold those values (and even the best of us does, on occasion), it will be necessary to remind ourselves that the “unmoved mover” in our political lives is not our political tribe, but rather the God who made us all. .... (more)

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