Human life begins after conception. Yes, there may be a small gap in time before the fertilized egg can be defined as a human being in potentiality. But it starts early. The climate is changing, but the eleven-year time-table as well as all current solutions to the problem do not convince me. I want nuclear power and investment in better technology, not carbon taxes and radical plans to undercut current energy production.
So my cards are on the table. I have conservative views, and I am what many would consider a simpleton for them. So be it. My point here is not to defend my views but to persuade those who share mine to treat Christians who differ from them better. I am not going to argue for any of these political positions, but I am going to sketch out ways that we can speak the truth in love even with Christians who hold different political views than us.
Righteous minds seeing with double vision
After long and rigorous studies of the human mind, Jonathan Haidt concluded that we are wired for righteousness. We use various criteria to understand right and wrong. And we create groups around our moral categories. Vegetarians, for example, think it morally wrong to eat meat and hang out together; they criticize those who disagree.
So we are wired for righteousness. But we have two problems. First, we often make decisions, as Haidt notes, on the basis of split second instinct. Then we justify ourselves. The problem here is that we let the proverbial elephant (our instinctive morality) lead the rider (our rationality). Second, Christians know that human nature has lost its original capacity for goodness. We often sinfully hold our political and moral views; knowledge (even correct knowledge) puffs up and so ruining truth due to our vanity.
These dual problems prevent us from seeing Christians who differ from us, even on the most important issues, as Christians made in God’s image. We see them as political enemies, half-way Christians, or even false professors.
That is why we need what Miroslav Volf calls “double vision.” When we have divided ourselves like this, we need to step into the shoes of the “other” to consider why they think and act like they do; we need to understand their perspective. When we do, we make the first steps to reconciliation.
Note what I have not argued. I have not argued that double vision eliminates the pro-life view nor proves certain theories of climate change. I have not argued that double vision changes truth. I have and am arguing that double vision changes our hearts.
I have never heard a Christian claim to vote democrat or liberal because they wanted to kill babies. In fact, at least half the USA and more in Canada believe that abortion does not end a human life. A Christian liberal may affirm that God gives us cancer cells, yet we can cut them out; so also does sex (and God) bring us clumps of cells in our uterus that we may cut out. In both cases, the argument claims to operate on the human body of a single individual. No intent to end a human life occurs here.
Note what I have not said. I am not advocating for this view. I am advocating for understanding what someone who holds this view intends via double vision.
A Christian who supports abortion in most cases does not believe that abortion ends a human life. That is important to grasp because it will allow us see Christians in this category not as intentionally doing evil but as unintentionally doing so. Scripture defines high-handed (willing) sins and unintentional sins. In the scenario above, I describe the latter.
Let’s reverse the above argument. A liberal Christian may believe that the climate will change irreversibly in eleven years, thus starting a process of massive death and desolation. To vote republican or conservastive would then be to directly vote for and implicitly support the death of millions, ecosystems, and the poor who cannot afford to protect themselves.
Such a Christian would likely seeing conservative Christians as cruel and stupid. Denying climate change or not supporting climate action would be tantamount to supporting mass evil. But, again, using the principle of double vision, we can start the process of reconciliation.
Christians who deny climate change or do not support climate action generally see such reports as propaganda or evidence of a lack of faith since Genesis 8:22 asserts that ”While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” This understanding could help each side to reconcile; at least, it could start a process of reconciliation.
Dividing Christ by red and blue
The Romans had four political parties that would watch the ancient games. As history went on, two survived: the blues and the greens. They formed two political parties that in the 8th and 9th century divided Christians. The blues would see theology one way; the greens another. It was a disastrous state of affairs.
Have we learned from the past? Do we divide the body of Christ today on the basis of red and blue, of liberal and conservative? Does our social media presence evidence the patient love of Christ, or have we become political agents attacking other Christians for the sake of political positioning?
I do not have all the answers. But I know one thing: we must not divide the body of Christ by political affiliation. Christ’s body is not divided by Justin Trudeau or Donald Trump, is it? If we act like it is, then we betray the hope that goes beyond understanding in the unity of Christ and in the fulness of our oneness with Christ and his body, the church.