Posting a picture of a hangnail that you think makes your thumb look like John the Baptist would be more likely to go viral these days than another impassioned, whining reminder that we live in a divided nation. Google pops up over 422,000 hits in 0.78 seconds when queried about “divisiveness in America”, so no one is likely to be heralded as profoundly insightful because he or she noticed it. Evidence of the sharp contrasts that define our nation is virtually impossible to avoid on any given day.
Opinions, political viewpoints, and ideological preferences have morphed into statements of personal identity for multitudes of Americans. Because of that, confrontation with an opposing position is perceived as a personal attack that must be defended, sometimes even violently. Much of social media in America is a verbal and video-graphic war zone. Attacks and counter-attacks in the form of diverse points of view pour forth by the millions every minute.
The very atmosphere is riddled with enticements to adopt an “us vs. them” mentality. Like it or not, there’s a self-identified opponent somewhere out there in the cyber world who sees us as “the enemy”. He or she ( … or “x”) is lurking in some keyboard, tablet, or smart phone, and sooner or later, will leap out of a screen to confront us. Division in America is real, and in spite of the tireless efforts of mainstream media to convince us otherwise, President Trump did not create it.
God’s Perspective ~
God’s position on the issue of unity and division is fascinating and can seem almost inconsistent. On the negative side, the act of causing “discord among brethren” is listed among those human behaviors that God “hates” (Prov. 6:14,16-19). Jesus reinforced division’s destructive implications in a larger context: “If a kingdom is divided against itself,” He said, “that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:24-25 NKJV). Where unity is vital, division can be lethal.
But division can be so natural and reasonable in some contexts that its absence would be incongruent and confusing. Jesus illustrated that aspect, as well. He asked a rhetorical question and followed with a provocative and unexpected answer:
“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” Luke 12:51-53 (NKJV).
Has Jesus now contradicted His earlier condemnation of division? Has God’s hatred of “discord among brethren” now been ameliorated somehow? What are we to conclude?
A Prerequisite Demanded ~
In God’s procedural process, division is a prerequisite for interactive unity. Before ever bringing things together, God identifies what they are and clarifies where they fit. Individual identity and distinction cannot be achieved in any context apart from initial separation and isolation from other disparate elements. If that initial identification is missing and individual qualities are not assessed, no basis can be established for functional cohesion. Connecting disparate components without an overriding concept or purpose will result in a pointless conglomeration whose interactions are flawed, superficial, or non-existent.
In creation itself, God began by dividing and separating various elements. Then He organized them into complex, interactive systems. Finally, He brought groups of those distinct systems together into a unified collection of complex and diverse mechanisms that were diverse individually, but that functioned in a harmonious, self-sustaining unity.
When diverse elements are thrown together with no common unifying basis to facilitate a shared acceptance and/or that promotes interactive cooperation, the results range from abrasive intolerance to functional paralysis to destructive chaos. That principle applies to everything from personal relationships to a nation’s populace.
An Effective Historical Basis ~
Unity in America was never the result of shared allegiance to a political party. Nor did it result from elevating a particular race, social class, or ethnicity to a place of national supremacy. The basis for the bond that allowed an individually diverse assembly of people from other parts of the world to transform an uncharted wilderness into the greatest nation on earth is not difficult to identify. The people who came here shared a recognition that Judeo-Christian values and principles were the unchallenged basis for our national identity and the Bible was the authoritative source for our national moral and ethical boundaries.
That Judeo-Christian basis for national unity has been relentlessly challenged for decades by those who identify themselves in terms of philosophies, ideologies, and worldviews that deny, reject, belittle, and impugn both the values themselves and those who hold them as sacred. Government-controlled academia, from kindergarten up, and the overwhelming majority of those sources we turn to for information (i.e., mainstream news and entertainment media, Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) marshal their troops and ascend to their platforms every day to attack the only effective basis for national unity that America ever had.
Divisiveness—A Natural and Rational Expectation ~
Having rejected the historical affirmation that America is “one nation, under God”, they see no place for cooperative inclusion within a nation based on values they despise. Opposition, abrasion, and aggressive antagonistic resistance, then, is natural. In the context of that reality, conflict and division are the only rational expectations.
America isn’t divisive because of Donald Trump. America is divisive because the only lasting basis for national unity is being systematically dismantled by a nation resisting the very God who allowed its founding.
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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