I haven't blogged much this year, because I've mostly been surviving. It's been a disappointing year on so many fronts, but nearing the top of the list for me has to be watching evangelical Christians become politically zealous in ways that seem not to honor the Lord. This was distressing to me in the run up to the 2016 election as well, and it has continued in fervor and depth. Social media in particular has felt like a dumpster fire of opinions, and I've watched in sadness as I've seen believers place a political leaning over grace, kindness, love, truth, empathy, compassion, and the list goes on. Not only that, but many believers have done this using the Bible as a justification and a weapon.
I grew up as a conservative Evangelical Christian. I understand the talking points and culture. I used to believe that all Christians should have the same political beliefs, because of conservative values and pro-life and small government and so on. The older I've gotten and the more of life that I've seen, the more I see that there are other perspectives that can ring true even inside of my faith. My faith has continued to deepen, because my need for Christ remains constant. I am more convinced than ever of my own depravity and shortcomings and blind spots and the ways that all of those play out as I seek to apply faith to politics.
A large part of this journey has come through our personal interactions with social justice issues, particularly racial justice. (Here's a blog post I wrote about this in June) As I've mentioned, this whole season has been difficult, and watching Americans disagree vociferously on the history of our country and the bearing that history has on our present has felt like we are living in some kind of twilight zone. We, as Americans, oppressed and enslaved people for centuries, almost exclusively on the basis of race. The idea of that leaving no legacy in the present is truly baffling. Our current laws were passed within the lifetime of many people who are still very much alive.
Even more disappointingly is the more recent learnings that I've had regarding the Church and the ways it has upheld these systems of oppression over time. I read The Color of Compromise this summer which was an eye opening look at the way southern Christians used the Bible to justify slavery and kept using it to bolster segregation. It feels that we are now witnessing the next phase where Christians are using it to denounce racial justice initiatives as anti-Biblical or Marxist. Or to simply say that it is unAmerican and disrespectful for people to be upset in a country where they have so much. There seems to be no protest that can please white Americans, and that is sort of the point. It is a protest.
Listen, I love America and am so thankful to live here. Truly. However, I'm not going to put our country or flag above my allegiance to Christ and his kingdom. I am called to love God and love my neighbors first and foremost. And my Black neighbors are crying out and lamenting injustice. I love America enough to want to make it actually a place that is good for all people that live here. I believe that means fully recognizing and embracing our incredibly racist roots and working to upend the places where those seeds still grow and flourish. As a side note, I am not a Socialist/Marxist/Communist. We own a family business and appreciate Capitalism. However, none of the good things we have here are without flaws.
I understand that many Christians are afraid. Because they keep saying they are scared or they keep encouraging others to be afraid if such and such doesn't happen or so and so doesn't get elected. So much has happened in the past year, and so much of it is confusing. There is hypocrisy on all sides, and it is difficult to know where to find "unbiased" reporting in our country, because most major news outlets have very specific slants. Even when they claim otherwise. Anytime I find myself dwelling on fear, I try to center myself on Christ and the fact that this world is ultimately not my home. I am found in him, and even if all else falls apart completely, I am not lost.
Our family does happen to be transracial, and so it is personal to us. When we say Black Lives Matter, we are saying that our black kids matter just as much as our white kids, even though that has consistently been up for debate in society. I will say it today and tomorrow and years from now if necessary to work to right the wrongs that have taken place here. We can embrace a movement while also knowing it is flawed, because we are all broken people working within broken systems. It is easier to debate theories than to engage in the work of dismantling systems or do the work it takes to recognize how racism has undergirded our society.
I'm not saying this is easy or straightforward. It is exhausting. But I believe it is holy work, and I am thankful that the Lord continues to show up as we walk this journey. It has forced me to really examine policies and issues in different ways. For example, I have always and will continue to identify as Pro-Life. I believe that advocating for increased racial awareness for me comes out of that sentiment. I heard someone say "Womb to Tomb" and thought that a helpful way to sum it up. That said, I believe that reducing abortions can come about with several different kinds of policies and that there should be more conversations about birth control access and healthcare reform, both of which have been proven to decrease unwanted pregnancies and abortion. I wish that we could have discussions that take a more holistic look at what is happening rather than demonizing anyone who doesn't agree exactly with us or do exactly as we would prescribe.
I write all of this humbly, knowing that I have blindspots that I haven't even discovered yet. I am in process and working to submit myself before the Lord as I wrestle through these issues. I know this post will hit people in a lot of different ways, and I ask for grace on all sides, because I know that so many of us are working to find our way through this. We all come to situations with a unique blend of conviction, personality, and personal experience, and this is where I am currently landing based on those things in my life. I do hope as Christians that we can find ways to respect one another and disagree graciously, because the world is watching. And if we don't have love, then we don't have anything.
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