Trump, Biden, and the Killer of Hostility

Nearly one week after the 2020 United States election, we still do not know for certain whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden will be President for the next four years. The media, of course, has called Biden the winner, yet with Trump’s assertion of potential voter fraud, an actual end to the contest likely remains weeks away. Although I do enjoy following and discussing politics, I avoid making my personal opinions of these matters known because, as a pastor, I want nothing to hinder my communication of the gospel. Therefore, although I have much to say about the election, I will save those discussions for face-to-face interactions with whomever is interested in having such talks.

I do wish to comment, however, on the rather stark divide that the election seems to display. Regardless of the final victor, the voting tallies reveal an almost 50/50 split in the country with many of the “battleground states” coming down to only a couple thousand votes as the difference. Although Biden’s victory speech largely revolved around the need for unification and healing, the divide is, I believe, simply too deep. Any hope that if the right candidate is appointed to office everyone will begin to sing kumbaya together in harmony is nothing more than a fantasy. The divide between us is more than the decision between Trump and Biden; it is a clash of ideologies, of theologies. Trump was only a symptom; Biden is only a band-aid.

Take the issue of abortion.

For progressives, abortion is, in many ways, the ultimate vanguard against a patriarchal society. Pregnancy has a far greater bodily effect upon the woman than it does for the man. Being able to terminate a pregnancy, therefore, is the epitome of self-autonomy. Abortion is a matter of control and choice.

For conservatives, abortion is the killing of a baby in the place where it should be the safest: its mother’s womb. These are fundamentally incompatible worldviews. If abortion is legalized murder, then we cannot simply agree to disagree. We can and should have calm and reasonable discussions of our differences, but agreement is not possible until one side concedes to the other.

For a broader picture, we need only to observe the increasingly popular sign that Rod Dreher calls “The Creed of Secular Religion.” It reads:

In this house, we believe
health care is a human right
black lives matter
women’s rights are human rights
no human is illegal
science is real
love is love

Fitting the fragmentation of secularism, many variations exist, including phrases like: water is life and kindness is everything. Dreher is right to call this a creed, and it very much captures the core beliefs of our present society. Like all creeds, it is meant to both unify and divide. It is both an attempt to find common ground as well as a line drawn in the sand. This is the modern orthodoxy.

As Christians, we too have a creed that rises above all momentary issues of this present life. In its simplest form, it declares, Jesus is Lord. The Apostles‘, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds provide greater clarity on what is meant by the Lordship of Christ. By this creed, Christianity has conquered through the centuries, as countless martyrs joyfully faced their own deaths rather than deny the supremacy of Christ.

This creed alone is big enough to bridge the divide, not merely within the United States, but within every human’s heart. It bridged the Jew-Gentile divide by “killing the hostility” (Ephesians 2:16), which means that the gospel got hostile against hostility. It removed the foundation out from under slavery. It is the Spirit’s presence that produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Detached from the God who defines them, virtues like love and kindness are too squishy and malleable to do any good. Kindness cannot be everything, but Jesus is.

Don’t misunderstand me. We should strive for compassionate and patient dialogues and exchanges of ideas. But even if unity is somehow established, unless it is rooted in the LORD, He will bring it to nothing, just like at Babel. In those days, humanity was never more unified, yet it was around their own fame and glory. Therefore, God scattered them.

Here again, we can note a difference in worldview. For many non-Christians, I would imagine that the account of Babel sounds like God is being rather petty, refusing to allow humans to accomplish anything substantial on their own. However, because we believe that God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, He alone gives meaning and purpose to existence. Thus, the dispersion at Babel was a grace of God to keep them from being satisfied with glories far less than Himself. In other words, God made us to know Him, and it is loving of Him to strip us of lesser things in order to turn our hearts toward Himself.

Ultimately, the LORD is the only hope for all of humanity. No divide is too deep or wide for the gospel, since its very message is that Christ has bridged the chasm between us and God. No politician is powerful or wise enough to heal this nation or any other. Such a hope must necessarily run dry since it is a broken cistern. Let us, instead, look to our blessed hope, “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession” (Titus 2:13-14). This hope alone is our “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19).

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

Psalm 146:3

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