In Search of the Ties that Bind

As all our readers know, a deranged gunman opened fire on a group of Republicans in Alexandria, VA this morning. The partisans were preparing for a charity baseball game. As of now, five people were shot, including U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), and the gunman was killed by Capitol Hill Police officers.

Nothing I’m about to write should be construed as a way to explain this lunatic’s decision to turn his politics into violence. He chose this.

In spite of his choice, we do find ourselves in the midst of a wretched political culture with plenty of blame to be smeared about. We are polarized. We are working at cross-purposes. We are challenging the legitimacy of our elected leaders. We obstruct. We defend the indefensible. We’ll do almost anything so long as it helps our tribe.

It is tempting at times like this to lapse into a sort of nostalgia, a hope for a time when things were better, when politicians got along, put the nation first, and the system just worked better. Such musings are really a longing for a place that never existed. It is wrong to lament that we’ve lost something we never at any point had.

Instead, we should focus on what we, as believers, can provide a corrosive political environment as we find it. In a world in desperate need of unity, we have Christ. We have the tie that binds like no other. Beyond that unity, we should show the world the love we are commanded to display. Even if people are convinced, I think wrongly, that those of another party or ideology are their “enemies,” we have no choice, as believers, but to love them. We are to pray for our leaders. We are to honor and respect them.

It seems, and perhaps I am naive, that basic, Christian obligations are the things most in need at this moment. There are ways we can work to change our political world, but they must not begin with policy, but a commitment to treat people, even in a political setting, how they deserve to be treated. Until we can do that, we are merely part of the problem.

6 thoughts on “In Search of the Ties that Bind”

  1. Your most logical post that I have agreed with in a long time. As believers and as for our political leaders should they not set the tone of love for one another as an example to rid this nation of division, hatred that they show and the contempt they show for one another? If they would work under the Christian values the tone of politics and our nation would change. Don’t you think?

  2. “It is tempting at times like this to lapse into a sort of nostalgia, a hope for a time when things were better, when politicians got along, put the nation first, and the system just worked better. Such musings are really a longing for a place that never existed. It is wrong to lament that we’ve lost something we never at any point had.”

    Absolutely correct. Even more, there have been far worse times in our nation’s history of political discourse. Politicians used to fight duels (Burr vs. Hamilton). In the mid-1800s, there were physical brawls on the floor of Congress. And then there was that affair called the American Civil War when 650,000 Americans died.

    No, you are not naive at all that Christian obligations are in need.

  3. In some ways, things WERE once better, and polarization was much less of a problem than it is now. Racism has gotten worse in recent years, especially since the 2016 election.

    Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly agree that we all need to be committed “to treat people, even in a political setting, how they deserve to be treated.” That principle was the foundation of Jesus’ earthly ministry. I am glad you raised that.

    Question is, will Cedarville University be a part of the solution, or part of the problem?

    Not as long as it invites people like Charles Murray to come to campus and speak.
    http://shameproject.com/profile/charles-murray/

    1. “Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly agree that we all need to be committed “to treat people, even in a political setting, how they deserve to be treated.” That principle was the foundation of Jesus’ earthly ministry. I am glad you raised that.”

      Problem is, based on what I have observed of your usual conduct on this blog, you clearly seem to believe that the treatment people who disagree with you deserve is to show them disdain and contempt. Even your response here is unable to resist another dig at CU. At the moment, you are part of the problem (not because you disagree, but the way in which you do it), not CU. I admit I can do much better at not being part of the problem myself. Just an observation.

      Good day :)

  4. Admirable sentiments all around. In reading them, I’m struck (as often on this blog) by a tension between identity and ethic. “In a world in desperate need of unity, we have Christ. We have the tie that binds like no other. Beyond that unity [in our Christian identity], we [have a Christian ethic that says we] should show the world the love we are commanded to display.”

    Very simply, the nature of the unified Christian identity you articulate (its members, its relationality, and its exclusions) powerfully impacts the ethic of love that flows out of it. So I’d join you in a call to begin (again) with a Christ-ethic of basic human mutuality. But then I’d expect taking that ethic seriously to have some serious implications for the Christian identity conversation upstream. And I rarely see that happening in this space.

    So I’ll gratefully take your call to ethical, Christian, human (inter)action, but I’d also offer it back to you and the Bereans. What would it look like to refocus from a deeply contested exercise of “truth and reason” to “engaging today’s political economy” with a Matthew 7:12 ethic?

Comments are closed.