The Gaping Maw of Politics

Nothing is beyond the gaping maw that is politics. Not fast food. Not movies. Not church. Not sports. Not the family. Not the backyard barbecue pit. There is no respite, no place to exhale, and no shade for cover from the sun. Gone Fishing? PETA will have something to say about that. Take in a round of golf? Don’t you know only the racist patriarchy willingly dons plaid pants? NASCAR? They are so fiercely anti-anti-Trump they’ve colored their helmets a very particular shade of fly-away orange. Football? Hah! Can’t you see that the middle and upper classes are sacrificing poor souls on their altars of entertainment? Oh wait, that was last week. Now football is the literal battleground for both race relations and Trumpism. It is the veritable perfect storm, a smash-up of culture, money, entitlement, and meddling politicization–and that just covers the owners and the president.

This is the culture war with an endless supply of ammunition. The Western Front in 1915. We are all, both sides, hunkered down in our preferred trenches, surrounded by agreeable mates, and fed a stream of pablum that never challenges, even briefly, a treasured belief. Care to think differently? Poke an eye over the parapet, just to see what the other side is up to? Do so at your own risk. The snipers, the kind that fling rounds filled with 140 characters, they are deadly accurate. Perhaps more frightening are our own trench-mates–they don’t brook a disparaging word. They are always ready, with bayonets filed to a steely point, to maintain political orthodoxy.

We are figuratively, and sometimes literally, at one another’s throats. Why? We have been lulled into a constant state of readiness.

Our beliefs, before the triumph of ideology, used to allow for a healthy separation between most of life and the political realm. Our liberties were negative, which meant the absence of government. My speech was free because I could tell government to buzz off. Our faith, friends and family were the point of life, and civil society, those “little platoons” to which we belonged were distinctly separate from the state. Our bowling leagues and book clubs were politically diverse and recreationally bent. They provided healthy social space. In the mobile, digital age in which we find ourselves, those spaces are shrinking.

Where do we go for social succor? Church? One of the great tragedies of the last half century has been the disintegration of most Protestant denominations. “Community” churches have arisen for local flocks, and these are vital green pastures, but they are often disconnected from larger groups, and they appear to be politically, socially, racially, and culturally monolithic. As much as I long to see our churches ramble over the ramparts, waving white flags of peace, not surrender, they are too often a product of, not a challenge to, the trenches in which we find ourselves. Gilead’s Balm has, for the moment, run dry.*

Sports? Not at the moment. I think this explains the venom surrounding President Trump’s decision to attack NFL players protesting during the anthem. Regardless of your feelings for Trump, his decision to throw gasoline onto near-dormant embers takes away, at list temporarily, one of the places we often go to be free from politics. Fans bond over their teams, not their politics and not because of the players’ politics. By throwing politics into it, and essentially forcing teams to take a position for or against the President, another chance to transcend our divisions goes by the wayside.

For far too many of us, beyond the narrow confines of family and a skeletal network of friends, the largest groups to which we collectively belong are political. Our ideological and partisan predilections are re-enforced by our sources of information and our social media habits. Our tribalism has grown, powerfully, as we seek to define our boundaries and sand away any and all of our rough edges. “You got a set of square pegs there? Not for long. They’ll be round soon enough…” Scrape. Buff. Presto.

We have, in the process, let politics become not only polarizing, but totalizing. We seek to align, with ruthless precision, every nook of our lives with a set of political ideals. “Did that owner donate to Trump? I. AM. DONE with that team!” “Did that actress support Hillary? I. WILL. NEVER watch another film of hers!” “What! Google fired an employee? Time to boot up ‘Ask Jeeves!'” “You’re kidding! Chick-fil-A has the temerity to disagree with me? I. AM. OUT!” If we take this approach to our food, clothes, and search engines, should it surprise us we take this approach to people?

This is not, friends, the stuff of a democratic republic. Neither the American right nor the left should approach politics with these levels of intolerance, nor should they support the use of the state, either directly or indirectly, to suppress those with whom they disagree. While I think this tendency has been more evident on the left (think of college campus unrest and disinvitations, the ruthless defenestration of Brendan Eich, and the relentless approach to the Little Sisters of the Poor, as well as florists, bakers, and candle-stick makers), the “new” right, whatever that is, seems happy to use The State to achieve its own cultural ends. NFL players want to kneel? “Fire Them!” Carrier wants to ship jobs overseas or to Mexico? We’ll see about that. Trumpism, whatever it is or is not, carries with it a profound willingness, at least rhetorically and sometimes coercively, to pull the levers of politics to erode freedom.

These are the trappings of illiberal government snuggling up to totalitariansim. Perhaps more than anything, we need to recapture a robust conception of limited, republican government. Only by admitting, together, there are parts of life beyond the reach of government can we move away from the abuse of political power.

Keep this in mind. For all of us who find ourselves shell-shocked, reeling from the latest fusillade, but willing to pummel our opponents if needed, our constant state of readiness IS good for someone. Having the population on a knife’s edge benefits those who wield the knife. Riled people donate time and money. If we, all of us, are convinced that every bill, every appointment, every nominee, every candidate, every protest, and every election is the hinge of fate for the future of our nation, we have played into the hands of our parties and our political leaders who desperately need our support.

Tribalism is pretty good for the chief. If by defining “us” our leaders turn us against “them,” their own futures are secure. They use our passion not for change or policy but for their own perpetuation. This is true of the right, left, Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, Conservative, Progressive, NRA, NEA, and anyone else with their hands out, begging for your bile. They are thirsty for you.

*Certainly, one can argue the Roman Catholic Church is in a position to serve as a cultural unifier, but it has been buffeted by its own set of scandals, and papal leadership has done little to still political waters, sometimes choosing to roil them instead.

54 thoughts on “The Gaping Maw of Politics”

  1. This article stereotypes people (mostly liberals), who are politically and socially active. If there were real world examples rather than statements made by the stereotypical activist in this article, someone could actually be convinced that a limitless government is destructive. I agree that the government often overreaches their boundaries, but no real solution was offered.

  2. I think this is at least partially the government’s goal. By distracting us with non-issues like which celebrity supports which candidate, they can push through legislation with which many people wouldn’t necessarily agree without much conflict or pushback.

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. Organized sports has been hijacked by multiple agendas, along with so many other things, often due to our own passivity or desperation for convenience.

    Proper use of the word defenestration: +25 points

  4. This was an insightful and well worded article. I appreciate how you gave examples from more than just the right side perspective. I think it could definitely be a bit more neutral, since it is a problem for every political position. I think that a shot at a solution or extension of your statement, “only by admitting, together, there are parts of life beyond the reach of government can we move away from the abuse of political power” would have been interesting to read to see your perspective on how this could be changed.

  5. Indeed, one cannot even escape the sinewy tentacles of the political beast even at a university.

    One History and Government department of which I am aware advertises itself as “Ideologically conservative.”

    This strikes me as a good example of the points you are making.

    When I was a student back in the day, the perceived focus was on teaching content and skills, not on something so shaky, so amorphous, so, well, obviously manufactured as political ideology. After all, what was ideologically conservative back in my day would not be seen that way today. The ideological conservatives back in the 1990’s would today we seen as RINOS, if not conservative Democrats. And now the GOP just nominated a wanna-be theocrat who has thumbed his nose at the Constitution for the office of Senator.

    If William F. Buckley were alive, he’d be rolling around in his grave!

    In this crazy world, we should focus on eternal truths, not something so, well, relativistic as ideology.

    1. How do we know what the eternal truths are? You are clearly quite attached to them but unless I’ve missed a response you have yet to explain how you found your eternal truths.

  6. At least we still have young adult novels. There is no escape from politics more steadfast than the self-absorption of a nondescript special teenager.

  7. I have a number of friends that are Hillary Clinton supporters, although I disagree with their stance, I do not disrespect them or even discuss politics with them because I think we can agree to disagree. I do see them, however, attack other Trump supporters by disregarding their opinions simply because of their political standpoint. Today’s society is a scary place because politics are no longer just in politics, they are everywhere. Every aspect of our country is dividing. I agree that there is no place free from politics anymore.

  8. I find it amazing how political every aspect of our lives are becoming; nothing is separate from political influence. The question is: in what ways can we attempt to recapture limited, republican government?

  9. Two things:
    1. My basic sentiments align with yours whole-heartedly so far as we talk about politics consuming everything. When I was high school (which, as I look back on it, could be read, “when I was a child”), I had this absolutism mentality, and it made life fairly difficult at times. I can’t identify a spot on my timeline when I gave this up, but I realized eventually that, “You know, I don’t care if that actor is a hammer and sickle away from being a full-blown communist. He’ s a good actor, and I want to watch his movie.” It’s just an unsustainable way of life…

    2. I would agree that Trump fuels the flames at times, but I disagree that he is causing all of this. This has been growing for years. In 2008, about 16% (give-or-take) of the country was worried about racial tensions. That number is closer to ~45% today. Obama doesn’t deserve all the blame, of course, but he should receive his due portion. We have spent 8 years digging up issues that had been settled years before and were just about to pass from memory. How do we mend this, though?

    I worked with a fine, black man over the past two summers, he as a FedEx driver, I as a mailman. We got on the topic of race relations one day, and his advice was short, sweet, and to the point, “It’s 2016, let’s move on.” Just to tell you about this man and his history would be a paltry representation of reality and would do his story no justice. He wouldn’t care though, perhaps the reason being that one day he found Christ, and his life was changed forever. The revenge mentality and passion for partisanship was gone, replaced by compassion and genuine, caring love for all. We can politicize actions til we are blue in the face, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the sweeping change wrought by the Savior. Instead of seeking revenge, we ought to seek the One who brings reconciliation.

    1. I like your insights, Matthew. However, I have to disagree, and quite strongly, with your analysis of race relations and Obama’s role in the current state of affairs.

      When you look at Obama’s presidency, he was weirdly shy about racial topics, and I think this is because it became clear early on that he couldn’t say or do anything related to race without being accused of stirring up tensions. In reality I think he was highlighting what was already there by virtue of his visibility. We were less aware of the injustices, more united by other problems.

      I think it is an huge understatement to say we were ‘almost over’ 300 years of abusing the image of God. These kinds of sins have a way of sticking with us long after we repent.

      1. Theophilus–
        How did anyone spend 300 years of abusing the image of God? You are certainly not over 120 years old and I’m just under half that. I’d like to think that precious little of my life has been spent abusing the image of God, and I’ll give you the same credit. I think this gets to part of why we have this chasm in race relations today. Not only does part of the culture insist we must be collectively guilty of the sins of everybody, we must also be guilty of sins from hundreds of years earlier. I don’t this this is a very Biblical way of thinking. And I honestly don’t know what specific actions that part of the culture would like us all to take except to walk around feeling as self-righteously guilty as they do. Don’t misunderstand and think that I don’t think that African Americans as a class have difficulties that white Americans as a class don’t as a historical legacy. Its also true that white Americans as a class probably can’t understand those difficulties. But its also true that very few of us can appreciate the difficulties a smaller class of white Americans in Appalachia have. Or the difficulties that Native Americans have. And we could go on.

      2. Dr. Haymond,

        I see your point, and readily concede that there are some people who really just want white people to feel bad, as if that is a solution to the problem. I am not defending that, nor am I suggesting that you, Mr. Beal, or I have necessarily abused the image of God, and certainly not intentionally.

        However, I think this is how I can best point out my disagreement with you. You said, “Don’t misunderstand and think that I don’t think that African Americans as a class have difficulties that white Americans as a class don’t as a historical legacy. Its also true that white Americans as a class probably can’t understand those difficulties. But its also true that very few of us can appreciate the difficulties a smaller class of white Americans in Appalachia have. Or the difficulties that Native Americans have. And we could go on.” And you are certainly right, but I think you do not go far enough.

        I think that a robust understanding of racism mandates that we take its aftereffects seriously. Am I guilty of enslaving black people? Definitely not, nor, to my knowledge, are any of my ancestors, who were largely poor farmers in the north. Yet, I don’t think any of us would deny that chattel slavery, as practiced in the US, was grievously harmful to the bodies and dignity of those who participated, and I think we must acknowledge that our society participated. The problem with sin is not merely that it was an infraction, but that, as persons in bodies, our sins have lasting effects on our world and lives. And the racist institution of slavery persisted in this country well into the 1800s.

        I think that treating African Americans as subhuman has had a lasting impact on the way they have lived ever since, and this legacy, while not my FAULT, per se, is still something that it would be irresponsible of me to ignore. I think much of what we see today (violent crime, broken family structures, cycles of poverty, etc.) is not merely the result of bad life choices, but disfigurement brought on by our society’s refusal to treat other humans as human. We feel terrible about it, of course, but that does not mean its consequences are gone. Pretending that sin is fixed by our sincere regret ignores the real, physical ramifications of our sins and the impact they have on our bodies. And, to be blunt, hoping that we can avoid the ramifications makes our repentance seem less sincere.

        Now to the really controversial part, I suppose: Do you think there is a lingering legacy to our sin? I am not sure how we can look at our society and not be convicted that there are still horrible and persistent injustices being done to people, and in large measure due to who they are, not what they have done. Do I think that the police, or teachers, or our civil servants, are all racists? Certainly not. But I think there has been damage done: The image of God has been attacked, and the attack has shaped our way of seeing its targets ever since. And, to be frank, we don’t have to go back 120 years to find abuse of God’s image because its bearers were black. There are people alive today who remember being separated, by law, as inferiors from their fellow man because of who they were.

        As to how we move forward: I think the first step would probably be acknowledging the reality of how damaging our collective sins have been on our perception of each other. You point out others who also have hardship, and I would suggest that there are larger problems at work there as well. I fully acknowledge that many who rail against injustice have no end goal, or just want to inflict harm on others, but I don’t think we should let our response be conditioned by them. I do not think you or I are guilty of slavery, but we may be guilty of discounting its impact on our society. If we do not understand the scope of the problem, we will never address it sufficiently. I think you can see, in the war on drugs as well as the failure of our welfare system, that attempts to address these problems on a merely superficial level are woefully inadequate. In that, at least, I know we agree.

      3. Very grateful to see your Theophilus’ thoughtful pushback in this space. Owning and grappling with our racial history is uncomfortable but necessary work. And as this generous critique demonstrates, it’s also a beautiful invitation into the essential Christian practices of honesty, humility, lament, and reconciliation. Ones that are pretty well impossible as long as we’re blaming poor race relations on folks who *just can’t stop* talking about centuries of socializing, incentivizing, and normalizing the dehumanizing treatment of millions.

        Would love to see a similar thoughtful response from Dr. Haymond. Especially one that gets into your particular discomfort with the language of collective and historical sin. What exactly seems non-biblical about these concepts to you? How might you address the history of slavery and Jim Crow with a language of individual sin? Was there never a measure of collective/societal guilt? At what point did black Americans became solely and individually responsible for bearing the historical legacy of a dehumanizing system? Was it about the same time individual white Americans earned absolution for their participation in that same system?

      4. @Ben H
        I will answer your question, once you answer mine. What specifically would you have me, Jeff Haymond, do to atone for this collective sin? Why should I do it? And what do you think the social result will be?

      5. Dr. Haymond, I’d be interested in hearing what you think of my reasoning as well. Sorry that it’s so lengthy. Specifically I’d like to know your thoughts on my argument that the physical/embodied nature of our lives means that we could be living with, and thus accountable to live responsively towards, the sins of the past.

        Also, was I too vague in my response?

      6. @ Theophilus
        “Now to the really controversial part, I suppose: Do you think there is a lingering legacy to our sin?”

        Undoubtedly. Who would deny the lingering legacy? The question is in the “our” part. For example, would any African-Americans have any part in the “our”? How ’bout other races? What about white Americans that immigrated in the 1950s?

        That’s why I want to hear a lot more about the specifics of what we’d like to have done. I continue to maintain that racism is part of the broader problem of sin, and therefore I think you’re going to continue to see it till Jesus comes. Nevertheless I believe that daily it becomes easier for African-Americans to rise above the indignities of racism. To be content with making continuing improvement in race relations does not mean that one “accepts” bad treatment of others. It may mean simply that any specific proposal to rectify the problem may lead to worse results and not better.

      7. Dr. Haymond,

        Right, right, I understand what you’re saying, and I’m afraid that I’m not communicating what I mean well.

        Thinking about it as a ‘part’ is good. Or maybe thinking about it like being born into a family. We didn’t CHOOSE to be in our situation. We were born in a context, and that includes our uncle’s drinking problem and our cousin’s traumatic childhood and so on. But, whether or not I am morally culpable for my environment, I am, because I am a person in a body, warped by it. My environment imprints on me, changes me, affects me in ways I may not even be aware of.

        Similarly, then, for racism. You and I didn’t beat anyone, or own anyone, or even mean to mistreat anyone because of their skin or anything else. But we live in a culture that exists ‘post-debasement.’ The Imago Dei was vandalized: American society didn’t just allow the abuse of one group of humans by another, but legally enshrined it. We built separate bathrooms for them and made them ride in the back of the bus (‘We’ being America-writ-large). And now, even after these egregious abuses have been addressed, our understanding of these other persons, and their understanding of themselves, is still damaged by centuries of dysfunction. We are implicated, not because we did something, but because our context demands that we be sensitive to our past.

        So yes, it’s a ‘sin’ problem, but it’s a sin problem that we MUST be actively addressing, because it’s not just that somebody sinned a century ago, or two centuries ago, but that their sin has, like the fall, rippled on down to us in ways that color us before we even realize what has happened. Like a nervous tick or an ingrained mannerism, we have a broken understanding of our fellow man that we often operate under without thinking about it.

        So then: “Nevertheless I believe that daily it becomes easier for African-Americans to rise above the indignities of racism. To be content with making continuing improvement in race relations does not mean that one “accepts” bad treatment of others. It may mean simply that any specific proposal to rectify the problem may lead to worse results and not better.”

        Agreed. But I think we need a more firm position- a more proactive one. I think continuous progress, particularly when left to the unregenerate, is not a guarantee. We have an obligation to be at the forefront of actually improving things, of redeeming the damage that has been done by others, which has hurt us as well. I think this might require reevaluating our ‘default’ responses to cries against injustice.

        I was personally convicted, for example, when someone pointed out that my immediate reaction, whenever ANY instance of a black man’s death at the hands of law enforcement was mentioned, was to come up with a justification for the act. Not, of course, that there shouldn’t or can’t be a justification. But my gut-response to the loss of life was to immediately brush aside the life to focus on why he probably deserved it. Which is, without question, a horrible way of looking at such a tragedy. It reflects a broken understanding of the value of that life, of the dignity of that man’s body and personhood. I need to question that, and deal with that.

        But I think that this might be a useful place to start- acknowledging that we are all subconsciously warped by this great social sin, and it will require active work to address it. It may require a critical look at our criminal justice system, at the inequality that has plagued our country since its foundation. It may mean that we need to take down our defenses and just listen to BLM and others who are crying out against abuse. Whatever the case, I think if we concede that our embodied persons are subject to the world around us and changed and shaped by the forces at work there, then we MUST acknowledge and take steps to resist the societal damage that threatens our understanding of our fellow man.

        Boy howdy, I sure talk a lot.

  10. This was a very though provoking article. It is sad to see politics in relatively everything that we do in our lives. It is also very unfortunate that so many people will not even listen to an opinion of another person just because they disagree.

  11. Its for this reason I really don’t like politics and try not to discuss it with others. It causes such tension where there are disagreements and it ruins relationships. People are too focused on being on one side or the other they don’t realize we’re all people and we all have some common ground and we shouldn’t be attacking each other.

  12. I find your statement about boycotting companies relating to how we look at people very interesting. Many times people associate the political leanings of a company’s leadership with the company itself and this leads to a massive amount of hatred thrown around. If we can have friends who disagree with us, we should be able to shop pretty much anywhere; however, if we cannot associate with people we disagree with, we need to re-evaluate ourselves.

  13. This is so very thoughtful and well-written; I’m grateful to read it.

    I do continue to wonder how posts like this one (and others, like “In Search of the Ties That Bind”) continue to co-exist alongside so many Berean hot takes adopting the very tone so carefully critiqued here. Of course I implicate myself as well; it’s increasingly hard to walk the line of civility and mutuality. But I often wish for a more accountable culture of cross-talk among this blog’s contributors when it comes to issues exactly like these: political polarization, tribalism, dismissiveness towards dissenting voices, etc. I think it would add a great deal to the tone and substance of the discourse.

    One thing I notice standing in the way of that broader civility in this space crops up in the “turn” of this post. That is, the idea that divisive “politics” is too pervasive because…government. I don’t begrudge the argument, but it seems tailor-made to draw a pretty thick red line across a space you’ve just lamented having so many red lines. To crudely summarize: “politics” is simply “what government does,” and since government is too big/problematic, less government means less politics means less conflict. Any frank assessment, of course, would acknowledge that the business of setting those lines between political/apolitical is (and has always been) about the most “political” thing there is. In other words, I sense a convenient slippage here between “too political” and “out of line with one received understanding of the bounds of politics.” All in service of a defending a particular version of government’s appropriate mandate.

    Again, I respect the argument. But as a regular reader of this blog, I notice this particular small-government orthodoxy as one of the very things lulling the Bereans into “a constant state of readiness.” I would venture it often serves as permission for broad and myopic dismissals of “the other side.” I don’t think it does a thing to encourage civility in this space or model any kind of Christ-ethic in political conversation/discourse. And it also seems to limit reflection about the many other institutions (corporate, ecclesial, educational) who are equally “thirsty” for us, and similarly culpable for the fractured social fabric you lament. Yes, I’m afraid the hard work of civility, of community, of the Kingdom, in this space and every space, will ask a great deal more of us than getting our notions of government right. Counting you as a fellow laborer in that difficult enterprise, I think we can do better.

    **One instructive example that pings for me is Wendell Berry’s “Mad Farmer Liberation Front”: http://www.context.org/iclib/ic30/berry/ . You won’t find a bigger proponent of limited, republican government. But his deeply Christian persepctive won’t stop there, and evinces a pervasive, embodied moral consciousness that encapsulates the very things I most often miss in this space.

    1. Ben
      Thanks for the lengthy post, and for the positive attempt at constructive critique. I’ll probably be posting more to address this issue, e.g., why the increased scope of government leads to incivility in the future. You are certainly right that it gets at the core of some of our differences, and I continue to think that we can have a respectful dialogue even if we disagree. I just wanted to encourage you that this particular post was nicely done.

  14. This was a well-written article. As much as I enjoy political discussions now and then, it’s definitely true that there are times and places where that’s not appropriate and I don’t want to add anything to the already over-politicized environment. I would be interested to know what you think would be the solution to this problem.

  15. What then is the next step that we should take? If political parties and such are having this strong hold on us as citizens in this country, then we need to find a way to back off as much as we can. I may be way off on this, but what is happening may be a form of idolatry because we have let this have such a strong hold on us. The opposite of idolatry is turning to God and letting Him and His will have control of our lives. It is a lot easier said than done, but it is an important step to take.

  16. Another well written article. It’s sad to see how everything has become so political these days. I do understand that some of it is coming from a group that seriously wishes to talk about a pressing issue that needs to be discussed. However I don’t think a ball game is the appropriate time or place for said discussions.

  17. I think this was very well put. Both sides have become intolerant of any idea that differs from their own. There is no longer a substantial part of the population that can truly claim their independence from a political party. In all honesty, it might be out of a underlying theme of laziness as much as anything else. People no longer want to be informed enough to be able to make a decision for themselves. They pick one issue that they want to make their cornerstone, pick the party that fits best to that, and they instead of becoming informed on a topic other than their cornerstone to make a decision they simply find out what their party thinks and regurgitate what they are supposed to to align themselves with their party.

  18. It seems to me that all I have known in the past couple of years has somehow been connected to politics and it just keeps getting worse. It worries me that there will not be an end to this unrest that is in our country today. There seems to be no avenue where a person can ask questions and slowly form their own opinion, it is only the ideology of “my way or the highway.” I have too many friends who went to college and immediately conformed their minds to what everyone else on campus believed. Maybe I am the same way, but I would like to think the opinions I have formed at Cedarville are my own. Maybe only time will tell when I defend them when the time does come…

  19. This article explains the current situation of politics extremely well, in my opinion. My favorite line from the whole article is,”We have, in the process, let politics become not only polarizing, but totalizing. We seek to align, with ruthless precision, every nook of our lives with a set of political ideals.” this is how I feel much of America is at this point. Politics has invaded every part of our lives and there is no middle ground for people to stand on. You either love the President or you hate him and with this division is some of the most polarizing issues that I have ever seen.

  20. Well put. It’s important to look at both the right and the left when discussing something like this and you did just that. It’s real sad that our culture today looks at something a celebrity or corporation believes and decides whether to support them or not based on that. We all have different views. Just because the NFL is doing something you don’t agree with doesn’t mean you should boycott that.

  21. A well-written article with strong points as usual. My primary thought once I finished is in regard to the discussion of our churches as appearing to be racially, culturally, socially, and politically monolithic. It was interesting to me that you did not include theologically monolithic. Although that may simply have been more tangential to the points you were making, it has been my experience that particular local churches are not theologically monolithic even if they appear to be.

    While basic positions such as the value of the gospel, the importance of worship, the joy of evangelism, etc. are all held as core values, specific theological positions are often divided among diverse positions within one body. Even elders of the church may hold positions on certain issues, such as eschatology, that differ from the local body’s stated position on that same issue. These variances only become realized through relationship and conversation, and they continue because all the individuals in the local body recognize that the person in question is a sincere, devout, faithful member of the faith, and that person desires to serve and be a part of a body because of the Christian fellowship there, not a particular, all-extensive theological orthodoxy.

    I wonder if this hidden diversity may also be true of the local body politically – that there are a wide range of opinions held by particular individuals who simply choose not to make their difference known because of the apparently monolithic position. This has been my experience as well, limited though it certainly is. Perhaps increased relationship, dialogue, and openness could make latent political diversity a reality in such a way as to make local bodies powerful forces for healing of the various dissensions and divisions.

  22. This article was full of truth. It is sad to see how everything in our culture has to be politicized. We can not go anywhere or say anything without it being turned into a political stance, and everyone has a different stance. As Christians we especially can begin to feel as though we are under attack. People see our stance in the Bible as downing what others believe in or not caring about other people’s beliefs. Christians above all else do belief what other’s believe is important because it helps us reach out and minister to them.

  23. Very happy you made this post, especially about the NFL affairs in particular. A game that people tune into every week to forget about politics or racial issues that have seemed to plague this country lately has fallen into the same problems many other individuals and organizations have. People also seem to have a terribly hard time respecting another’s opinion, even though they expect theirs to be.
    Although this is a serious problem in our nation right now, I do not know an answer for this, and for some reason I doubt anyone else does either.
    As for Trump throwing gas into the fire, i think this is the complete wrong decision by him. It seems that sometimes, the man just opens his mouth when it would do him much better to keep it shut. Nothing he said is going to solve anything, only makes things worse.

  24. It has become difficult since there is no longer a distinction between strictly political issues and other issues. It seems as if everything suddenly has become political or a political meaning has been implied. As of now, it appears that as time goes on that the distinction will continue to become muddier and harder to identify.

  25. I think its a given that politics have seeped into every facet of life. It’s everywhere on social media, it’s infiltrated the NFL and will soon become bigger in the MLB and NBA, and even church messages are filled with backhanded slaps to one figure or policy. It’s unfortunate that this is the way life will be for what seems like until Jesus returns, but we can’t escape it.

  26. In this generation of “acceptance” and “tolerance”, it seems to be going only one way. No matter what the topic, or what sides you may fall on that particular topic, the heated argument and hatred that prevails does far more damage than the original topic ever could. I just hope that people can see that there is a bigger picture out there and that people will learn how to disagree respectfully.

  27. It am so so tired of everything being politicized these days. It seems like everything is taken to be aligned with either one extreme or the other. I like to go on social media for entertainment, but now all I see is anger and arguments. Those rounds filled with 140 characters can now be filled with 280 characters, too. When I spend time with friends that I know have different political views, I feel like there are so many topics that I need to be very careful to avoid in order to remain friends. It’s sad that everyone has become so opinionated that we cannot even discuss current events civilly.

  28. Politics is not a cure-all, yes it is there to provide direction and protect its citizens but it is not supposed to control every little aspect of society. All of the discussions about the NFL, the First Lady’s clothes, or some century old statues do not help in propelling America forward, rather they bring it back and divide the country and pit the people against each other rather than strive for unity. It is really sad to see but I do have hope that it points to when the true King returns to right all of the wrongs and reconnect the people in faith and love.

  29. Government infiltrates every aspect of our lives, and we are naive to think that government really wants what is best for us. However, we must remember the two greatest commands being love God with all your heart mind soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. I think some of these problems occur because we don’t follow this guideline to how we live.

  30. I know people that tie political issues into companies that surround us in every day life. I have a friend that won’t shop at The Home Depot because the have said that they support gay marriages a company. I have a friend that won’t buy coffee at certain gas stations because they allegedly support the middle east. I think if we avoid every places because they support something we don’t believe in we would go crazy! We live in a fallen world so therefore we are not all going to believe or stand for the same thing.

  31. I know people that tie political issues into companies that surround us in every day life. I have a friend that won’t shop at The Home Depot because the have said that they support gay marriages a company. I have a friend that won’t buy gas at certain gas stations because they allegedly support the Middle East. I think if we avoid every place that supports something we don’t believe in we would go crazy! We live in a fallen world so therefore we are not all going to believe or stand for the same thing.

  32. The level of polarization present in today’s political arena is saddening. Part of our constant state of readiness is due to how our politicians and supposed leaders would rather stuff their point of view down opponent’s throats than come to a compromise. I fear NASCAR fans have always been a little more strongly conservative than even the average republican, but their staunch mindset and refusal to reason has infiltrated far more areas of the spectrum of public consciousness. Rather than simply trying to bring peace at all costs, as Christians we should challenge people to think and consider opposing points of view to try and understand them rather than ignoring the differences entirely. Only then can we have true progress in political discourse.

  33. I believe that far too many people feel that they are very strongly supporting their beliefs when really all they are doing is helping to further polarize the American population. Ultimately the American populace is getting closer and closer to two extremes, neither of which is what is best. Our democracy has worked thus far thanks to the ability to vote and support that which you believe is truly best, but that eas with a two-party system where there could be overlap between the two parties. When a member of one party believed that something the other party was supporting he would vote for it. Currently, the gap between the two parties is so large that no compromise can be reached, and the gap is causing hatred between the two parties. Which is causing our country more and more harm.

  34. I think another aspect to this current issue that is unaddressed is peoples’ need to belong to something and feel as though they are making a sizeable difference. People are traditionally easy to coerce to join a passionate group of people who rally around a unique cause. The greater the magnitude of the cause, the more enthralling it is to join. People long to belong and to find purpose and identity in life and sadly many people are attempting to procure this in the political realm. People can no longer peacefully debate about the right or wrongs of a political party because that political party has become a crucial piece of their identity. As such, we are currently treading through dangerous waters in America. A politically driven rebellion may not be quite in sight, yet but it is rapidly approaching and when it does chaos will erupt.

  35. This topic drives me crazy because in every aspect of life now politics are brought in and not simply talking about them no, everyone has to make a statement. Even statements that have no sound evidence or reasoning behind them but simply because this is how a person feels. Im not saying its wrong to use your freedom of speech to present how you feel about politics but most of the time our freedom of speech turns into a freedom or “let me tell you what I believe and I wont except what you think.” Our world has not only turned into a pit of endless political arguments but we’ve lost the ability to sit down and have a simple conversation about how to better our political world and its become lets argue about why my view is right.

  36. Our world is turning into a politics focused world. In recent years, everything we do seems to be done based off of some political reason. Although I do agree politics do have lots of importance, I wish it wasn’t the topic that was overpowering so many conversations. If a quarter of the people who are excessively passionate about politics, turned their passion into a passion for the gospel, our world would be a better place.

  37. Effective article! I think it is sad that people completely reject and avoid things that have anything against their personal beliefs and that this issue pervades society so extensively. It is certainly difficult to work together to solve problems if people cannot cooperate with each other and look over differences in opinions.

  38. One major issue with our two-party system is that everything is so polarized. I am a Republican, but there are many policies in several spheres where I would tend to balance my beliefs with some traditionally democratic views, yet this is perceived as unacceptable to many. I think this is ridiculous. I will not just “tow the party line” for say, some economic issue, just because it’s the Republican view. I hate that so many issues come back to politics and more specifically which party you are supposed to support instead of strictly a pragmatic and unbiased analysis of the issues at hand.

  39. My oh my, you have hit the nail on the head with this article. Personally, I too identify as a Republican, but I’m not hard-strung to the party. Personally if I was ever to enter politics, I wouldn’t choose a party but rather would choose a political stand that gave the best opportunity for the most Americans. The problem (one of many) is that politics have become a ruling problem, politics have penetrated the very inner social aspects that we as Americans have held so dear and have allowed it to separate us. Instead, why not embrace with love an unity.

  40. It is very crazy that so much of society is saturated by politics. It truly seems that there is no aspect of our culture and society that has not been affected. As followers of Christ I think it is wise not to necessarily be so passionate about a political party in issues as such but to seek a Godly perspective and seek to love others with the love of Christ. All of believers’ political views will simply not line up with the left, however by seeking to love others in every situation, believers can have a testimony for the Gospel.

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