Last week’s post, Walls ~ A Moral Imperative?, waded into the provocative issue of morality in regard to the proposed Southern border wall. The “wall,” and in some cases even the suggestion that it be built, was declared by certain prominent political leaders to be “immoral.” I found the situation interesting, but my objective in writing the piece was not to reinforce an ideological position, quite the contrary. I wanted to sidestep the Democrat vs. Republican, Liberal vs. Conservative dichotomy and consider what God’s perspective on the issue might be, given His readiness to weigh in on such matters. It seemed reasonable to me to check out the Biblical record and have a look at the situation through a lens not offered by the media.
An Interesting Reaction ~
As shocking as it is to contemplate, at least one reader of last week’s post was less than blessed with it and expressed unambiguous disapproval with what I had written. The reason for her thumbs down response was not based on any specific point, but was encapsulated in her conclusion that I was clearly a right-wing conservative.
Her response mirrors a disturbing trend that we see displayed across the nation every day and one that constitutes a major obstacle to achieving a reasonable resolution to the border wall standoff and a plethora of other vital issues. We get stuck in a hopeless quagmire again and again because of the prevailing tendency to summarily dismiss questions of truth, pragmatism, and principle, in favor of the one question that seems to rule over all; i.e., what are the political and ideological implications — and how will it affect my social media persona?
“Values Inversion” ~
That mindset places those who practice it in a kind of mental incarceration. The mind is restrained within certain prescribed territories and not often allowed to explore beyond those boundaries. It creates the classic “us vs. them” attitude and provides the foundational rationale for the kind of identity politics that prevail in America today. Instead of an honest exploration of ideas and vital principles, decisions are made on the basis of questions like, “Is he a Trump supporter?” or “What did Nancy Pelosi say about it?” The identity politics paralyzing our country thrives on this kind of mindset. Unfortunately, multitudes choose to lock themselves into this mental prison because it requires far less effort to determine where to stand on any given issue.
Jesus was continually exposed to this paradoxical “values inversion.” The perfectly righteous Son of God was accused of things that were worse than immoral. He was accused of blasphemy, of being demon possessed, and performing miracles by the power of the devil. He was the object of conspiracies designed to publicly discredit Him and to personally humiliate Him. He was misrepresented and openly mocked and ridiculed by the most powerful and influential leaders of His day. Eventually, their unrestrained hatred and fear of Him brought them to consummate a plan to have Him falsely accused and crucified. And obviously none of their behavior was chosen because it was true, or right, or just, or good, or even decent. It was all about political expediency and preserving their personal position and power.
The prevailing political atmosphere in our country these days is frequently described as “divisive” with each side blaming the other for the division. Unfortunately, most of our conflicts and oppositional stands are not based on well thought out disagreements regarding facts, practical outcomes, or their impact on basic principles like integrity and truth. What we have instead is an unprecedented readiness to begin calling names and assigning political identity tags at the first hint of a point of view that fails to meet whatever standard the hearer has adopted as his or her personal identifier.
“Groupthink” ~ The Easier Route
That kind of knee-jerk protocol makes dealing with complex issues a lot easier. It eliminates the need to expend the mental energy to honestly explore the facts and consider issues in light of their ultimate impact on vital principles. If asked where we stand, we don’t have to think about what to say. We just repeat the approved talking points issued by whatever leadership we’ve chosen to follow. It’s easy to be drawn in that direction, but the loss of intellectual freedom is a high price to pay for a superficial sense of acceptance and approval.
But Jesus offers another perspective and another set of options. His way involves a sacrifice as well, but the benefits far outweigh the cost. He made it clear that abandoning life’s deepest, most enduring principles in order to satisfy transient desires of the moment isn’t something isolated to any class, group, race, or party. All of us do it repeatedly. Even the best of us are cursed with a sin nature, and we’re all guilty of defiantly placing things we see as desirable above principles we claim to believe. The question is not whether we’re guilty, but what do we do about it?
A Higher Authority ~
Jesus calls us to abandon our allegiance to this world, its value system, and its political shenanigans. Faith in Him involves a new birth (John 3:16 NKJV). Paul reminds us that our citizenship and primary governing authority are not in this world and that our public and private conduct should reflect that.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20 (NKJV)
Jesus calls us to freedom, and He provides us with at least three things that defend against the intellectual incarceration of identity politics, and/or the bondage of sectarian religion:
- The revealed Word of God. The principles He gave ensure freedom and offer access to the best life has to offer.
- The indwelling Holy Spirit of God. His presence moves us to repentance when we violate God’s principles and leads us to forgiveness and restitution.
- Each other. God formed His followers into a family, a vital, personal, interconnected body with a mandate to look out for one another and to provide loving intervention when a brother or sister is in trouble.
Engaging political questions isn’t forbidden for Christians, but the real debate we must win is whether our political stand is determined by ideological groupthink or the eternal principles ordained by God Himself.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly back to this article through Twitter.
- “Identity politics is paralyzing our country . . . Unfortunately, multitudes choose to lock themselves into this mental prison because it requires far less effort to determine where to stand on any given issue.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Groupthink: No need to expend mental energy to honestly explore facts & consider issues in light of the ultimate impact on vital principles. Losing intellectual freedom: A high price to pay for a superficial sense of acceptance&approval.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus calls us to freedom and provides at least 3 things to defend against the intellectual incarceration of identity politics, and/or the bondage of sectarian religion – the revealed Word of God, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and each other.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Engaging political questions isn’t forbidden for Christians, but the real debate we must win is whether our political stand is determined by ideological groupthink or the eternal principles ordained by God Himself.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth.”
Click HERE for details …
© 2019 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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So much good information here. Below is what spoke to me on a personal level:
“He (Jesus) made it clear that abandoning life’s deepest, most enduring principles in order to satisfy transient desires of the moment isn’t something isolated to any class, group, race, or party. All of us do it repeatedly. Even the best of us are cursed with a sin nature, and we’re all guilty of defiantly placing things we see as desirable above principles we claim to believe. The question is not whether we’re guilty, but what do we do about it?”
Lord Jesus, guide Your followers to keep our eyes on You as we wade through the quagmire of political mumbo jumbo. Help us speak/write only when guided by Your Spirit. Let us not get into battles that mean nothing in light of eternity.
Thanks again for brightening my day, Backie. I’m sorry for being slow responding (again). I remain humbled and grateful that one of my favorite young authors reads stuff I write. You’re a walking and writing bundle of encouragement and I thank God for you. Your courageous willingness to wade into issues that are “controversial” is a breath of fresh air and your consistent allegiance to the Word of God in dealing with them adds strength to everything you write.
Thank you, too, for pointing out that glitch with the “tweetables.” We’re looking into it, and at this point, it looks to me like it’s one of those anti-conservative mechanisms built into their algorithms that Twitter claims it doesn’t do. In any case, we wouldn’t have known about it if not for you. Please add it to the list of things I’m indebted to you for.
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Ron, We have experienced some “issues” with One Christian Voice and the many divisions and I had the feeling you were encountering a similar type of “mistake” under the guise of algorithms out of the control of FB and Twitter.
I pray you got it taken care of.
I’m a huge fan of what you write, dear Ron. You speak the truth in love. A rare commodity nowadays.
I’m always blessed and impressed when I see the way you point out specific things in your responses and the way you react to your own readers on your site. If I was younger, I’d look around for classes on how to be more like you in that regard. Unfortunately, at my stage of life, I’ll just have to add it to the growing list of stuff I’m probably not going to master this side of heaven. Thanks again, my dear friend, for another uplifting boost in an otherwise ho-hum day.
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This was a wonderful message about the wall. Keep telling the truth relating to God. I stand behind what you say. Bless you and Diane for the work you are doing. With love! Gayle
I’m so sorry to be so late responding to your encouraging comment, Gayle. I thought I had sent you a note earlier, but can’t seem to find it now, so please forgive me for the oversight. I appreciate your faithful commitment to God’s truth at a time when it seems to get more challenging every day. May God bless your courageous and may your influence grow and be multiplied across the land.