Love in Differences
Respect for the person, always. Acceptance of bad ideas, never.” Os Guinness
“Ideas have consequences, but bad ideas have victims.” John Stonestreet
Humans are by nature rational and relational. Rationally, we come to different conclusions. We might differ on the identity or the existence of God, the nature of man, the standard of objective moral truth, human sexuality, or political positions.
Relationally, we have common interests and passions. We want to be loved and give love. We long for companionship and are devastated by rejection.
Rationally, Americans are polarized and opinionated, Relationally, Americans are tribalized and distrusting of one another. Yet, in a time of excessive and needless partisanship in our country, I am hopeful that national unity is still within reach despite the endless delegitimizing of people. Unfortunately, in a post Judeo/Christian culture, few are rooted in the Genesis narrative of man being made in the image of God. This timeless Torah truth communicates an often-overlooked principle: to demonize a person is to defile the image of God.
The tragedy of contemporary culture is that, instead of finding our worth, dignity, and unity in the universal image of God, we are manipulated into current identity politics. We see an intersectionality of diverse groups warring for their right of retribution – a common emotion in socialist and communist countries where the totalitarian control of hundreds of millions of people are at stake. Consider the tight-fisted proletariat hands of Soviet propaganda turned on each other in a struggle to rule, eventually leading to the deaths of over 100 million people.
In America, I believe we can do better. Our constitutional republic can be upheld through a renewal of the social contract that binds us together. My approach to unity is not an appeal to a broad commonality of shared interests and minimal differences. It is not a heightened sensitivity of civility or an ecstatic tolerance towards others.
I believe we can love one another even if we have nothing in common. We can accept, respect and treat with kindness every individual irrespective of our diverse views, life experience, or political persuasion. We can love relationally regardless of our rational differences. I can refute your beliefs without rejecting your personhood. Equally, I believe you can challenge my views without hatefully labeling my character. In other words, every individual must be accepted, and every idea must be tested. Not surprisingly, the post-truth rage is increasingly becoming antagonistic and offensive as individuals misapply their ideas as their identity.