Go read last week’s sermon as a prelude to this. I preached that sermon as the Word of God–as ordained ministers do from the pulpit–and though I still struggle to believe I could possibly give the Word of God, if I do that, preaching that sermon gave the Word of God.
I–the guy who writes this blog–have more to say that does not qualify as the Word of God. I want to follow-up with on how our divisions shatter our world and how we should approach the crisis of today.
I believe we live in a crisis state. The United States had a policy of separating families–including infants–who illegally crossed the border, many wanting to claim asylum but found themselves unable due to boarder stations not processing people attempting to enter the country. The United States has deported parents without their young children. The United States has an active and growing resurgence of vocal and violent racism that claims moral superiority not unlike the Ku Klux Klan before them.
The United States currently exists in deep, painful, and life-threatening crisis of evil, both in the philosophical sense and a real, practical, and horrifying sense for many populations within her land.
I believe the crisis is a an opportunistic infection of a much different disease.
The disease is hateful, vitriolic division.
Do not misunderstand my point. The opportunistic infection can and will kill us. I do not write this to downplay the dire crisis situation we find ourselves in. We need to cure the infection or what we know as the United States will die.
As we seek to cure the infection and heal the damage caused, we need to desperately need to understand what allowed such an infection to happens and treat the problems so it cannot happen again.
I want to start with a troubling Twitter hashtag I saw over the past few days that exemplifies our vitriolic division. #CivilWar2 has declared war between Democrats and Republicans. Mind you, the declaration does not go against the infection but against other parts of the body. It declares a political philosophy morally correct and refuses to accept dissent. It demonized half of the country and tells those who would gladly join the cause of fighting the infection to fall in line with their political philosophy or suffer the consequences, driving those potential allies into the welcoming arms of the crisis-makers.
I do not speak of new things. I remember hearing in college–my much more conservative days–that voting Republican means I want women to get cancer. I remember hearing in my youth–as my mind and philosophies formed–that voting Democrat means I want to murder babies. I remember hearing that standing right of the line means hating black people. I remember hearing standing left of the line means I cannot call myself Christian.
I wrote no exaggerations. Someone told me each one of those things, each multiple times. As I stepped right, someone called me evil; as I stepped left, someone else called me evil.
I can picture their faces. I do not exaggerate; people called my changing and evolving positions evil, often adding stupid and immature to the mix.
I could only learn one lesson aside from than how lonely I would feel desiring and working toward politics and ministries of reconciliation and subtly: disagreeing would force me to the outside. Not having a tribe forced me to the margin, and we have no tribe for subtle, strong centrists who desire the best policies for universal love, universal survival, and universal growth.
I am not evil. I am not stupid. I am not immature. My growth marked improvements in each of those areas, and multiple someones called my growth each of those things.
When everything that you disagree with is evil, nothing is evil. When everything you disagree with is stupid, nothing is stupid. When everything you disagree with is immature, nothing is immature.
I have finally arrived at the root of the problem as I see it. We live in a unique crisis of evil. I cannot state that any differently. We live in a unique crisis of evil.
We have so overused that word and vitriolically divided ourselves into two tribes and killed all dissent that when we actually have something evil in front of us, we have no way to call it as such. By writing this someone will believe I said, “Republicans are evil!” By writing this, someone will believe I said those who speak out angrily should not be so uncivil. By writing this, someone will hear a political message.
We all did this by politically dividing our stances on morality and evil. I found myself marginalized by the American political dichotomy, but I have my tribes, as well. I find myself ready and willing to tear down other denominations for what I want to call evil when they simply interpret the Bible differently. I have wholesale condemned people who believe in “Ecclesiastical Separation.”
I can name them as easily as I can name those who condemned me.
We have called the other evil for so long that when evil appears in great force, we cannot call it as such for fear of sounding political or do speak up only to have that fear painfully realized.
Our hateful, vitriolic divisions allowed this to happen. We allowed this to happen and shattered the safeguards that would have prevented it in the name of political expediency. We found ourselves shocked that evil could take advantage when we opened the doors wide open.
This crisis can kill us. The opportunistic evil that comes from our divisions can and will kill us. We felt morally superior as we allowed this to happen and patted ourselves on the back.
I ask this of every #CivilWar2 political activist:
When this war you declared ends, do you plan to call the other side “our countrymen (sic) again”? Or do you plan to shoot your guns off and make sure they know you won and demonize them, furthering the divide between you and those who would stand as your allies?
If we would stop dividing ourselves, and especially stop dividing the Body of Christ, we could fight evil. Now we have to watch it do its work until we can stand united again.
I am reaching out to you, asking that you ignore our divisions and stand united against the crisis of evil we currently live in. We shattered the safeguard; help me rebuild it.