Monday, December 15, 2008


Much of my life has been spent trying to "cross the aisle" - not like John McCain did, compromising principles simply for the sake of accomplishing something, but to treat the fences that litter the landscape of humankind as though they were meant to be ignored. These fences include denominational walls in churches, ethnic walls in neighborhood, age-related, gender-related, and culture-related walls in religious and social gatherings. It is invigorating to share as a human being what we have in common and not allow ourselves to be placed in cubicles from which we never escape.

It was over 36 years ago that I started to date girls with different complexions from mine, and I ended up marrying one just over 34 years ago. However, it really didn't start there. When I was three, my parents moved us to Colorado, and a year later we moved into the Rocky Mountains into what is now a ghost town - GIlman, population in 1955, 300. This town wasn't even a town - it was a mining camp. There was a Zinc Mine, but no fire department, police department, gas station, church or much else besides the mine, an auditorium, an elementary school, and a couple stores. There were 3 foot square sheds every 100 feet with a fire hose. You fought your own fires. There were quite a few people of Mexican descent who worked in the mines. Our house was in the last row of where the Anglo's lived. The town was totally segregated. My parents started a Sunday School for everybody. That was prophetic.

We later lived in Plainfield, New Jersey. Almost half of the kids in the high school were minorities, as were most of our neighbors after a couple of years. My parents stayed until they died, which for my Dad was 35 years AFTER integration. Many people say they are all for people being together and having no walls, but points of intolerance come out in unguarded moments. I'm happy to say most of my life has been lived in diversity, and attitudes have been tested through all manner of challenges.

So why on earth am I writing about deep division? I believe the culture war we are in is dividing people in ways that are extremely difficult to heal. Why do I say that? I say that because dialogue is breaking down. Opposing sides are shouting at each other rather than engaging in constructive dialogue. There are the two polarizing opinions:

1) The government is benificent and should be far more involved to bring truly righteousness and justice to our nation.
2) Republicans are for the rich and feel uncomfortable around minority people unless they parrot the identical opinions, in which case they fawn all over them.
3) Nothing will change with abortion and homosexuality so don't even consider those as issues. Be tolerant, live and let live (or die). Personal morality is irrelevant to how policy is decided.
4) Wars are all about greed and if we talk with anyone the right way, we can avoid fighting.
5) The press and media are basically fair and it is no big deal to silence contrarian viewpoints for the sake of national unity. Any people right of center are essential stupid and not worthy of mention except in derision.

1) The government tends toward evil. All that is needed fro government is to keep the peace and perform functions that cannot be provided by private enterprise. Government renders services so much less efficiently than other delivery methods that those services should not be provided by government.
2) Democrats are more supported by the rich than anyone - Hollywood, liberal billionaires, and Wall Street (5:1 $ for Obama over McCain). They are elitist and despise normal Americans. Rather than be lock-step Republicans, many of Opinion B would identify as "Conservative", being disenchanted by general GOP ineptness politically and the tendency to not stand for moral issues as strongly as their coalition would like.
3) Abortion and homosexuality are key issues and it is essential for leaders to stand for what is right morally. How a person behaves in person is a total predictor of how he governs.
4) There is good and evil in the world. Diplomacy with people who are intrinsically evil never works and can lead to larger problems. While to be avoided if possible, do not be afraid to fight when security or essential principals are at stage.
5) The press and media are extremely unfair. Freedom of speech must be absolute and it is necessary to prevent demogoguery by the press that makes for an uninformed and brainwashed electorate.

Simply put, they can't, because they are directly opposite. That is why we have deep division. When people don't respect the viewpoints of those on the opposite side of the spectrum, disrespect of the people who hold those viewpoints often follows quickly. Viewpoints vary among all people groups, but there are heavy pressures in each to hold to one opinion or the other.

So what is the solution? In many venues and in some homes, civil discussions about politics are a thing of the past. However, with so much at stake, can we afford to leave these critical issues in stalemate status? It is something only God can heal, some would opine. However, churches have staked out battlelines on both sides, some saying Opinion A, and some Opinion B. Each side ridicules the other. Just like the denominational differences and the conflicts on subjects such as speaking in tongues, the prosperity gospel, and Sola Scriptura, these conflicts bring bitter rhetoric and harsh criticism. I believe that the ONLY solution is for people to be truly submitted to God and to ask him to show them the truth. There is only ONE set of truth, and it behooves the entire church to find it and speak it openly.

Are we up to the challenge, or are we going to continue to fight? I believe we KNOW what God wants in this matter. We must press on and not let these walls get cemented in place for our children to have to try to dismantle. God hates division and he hates error, and we should be careful to scrupulously avoid both.


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