“You don’t want to know.”
That was my British friend’s answer to my question as we ate nachos in Dallas: “What do Brits think about politics and culture in America right now?” Born in Africa, living in London, and often traveling the world, he said that most people outside of the States are utterly shocked and ultimately confused by the acrimony in America.
I explained to him that America is currently one big dysfunctional divorced family. One social commentator rightly said that Republicans on the right are the “daddy” party and that Democrats on the left are the “mommy” party. Those who feel unsafe vote for daddy to increase military spending, crack down on crime and protect the family. Those who feel uncared for vote for mommy to increase social spending to improve healthcare, housing and education.
In the 2016 election, the family of America literally had to choose between a mommy and a daddy. Many would say the choice was between a bad mommy and a bad daddy.
The election was a bitter custody dispute to decide who would keep the house (in this case, the White House) and get custody of the kids now that mommy and daddy were officially divorced and not going to reconcile.
Today, our nation is a lot like a dysfunctional divorced family where mom and dad really don’t like each other and all the kids know it. Some of the kids sided with dad and think crooked and conniving mom is to blame for all the pains and problems. Some of the kids sided with mom and think dad is a domineering and dangerous bully.
Some of the kids are caught in the middle, overwhelmed with stress and anxiety because they cannot bear to see the family always fighting. While still other kids ran away from home, and are trying to ignore everyone and everything because they are just sick of being drawn into all the family drama.
How about you? Do you side with dad or mom? Are you trying to bring the family together, or have you checked out and decided to run away?
For the Christian, this leaves us in a precarious position. Most Christians are not able to wholeheartedly endorse the dysfunction on the left with mom or on the right with dad. We live in a very polarized culture, which seems more divided than ever, and I even sense that spirit and attitude seeping into the evangelical Church.
Many people are afraid to identify with any group — be it political, religious or ideological — as they could be attacked for it.
Despite the prevalence of 24-hour news and social media where we regularly see this societal fracturing playing out, when I speak with people in–person, I discover that most individuals are focused on their own problems with respect to family, finances and work.
People have their own problems and need help. They are looking for strong teaching that can encourage and equip them to keep going and become overcomers, instead of merely being overcome.
This provides the Church an opportunity to do something unique in our day — to be a healthy loving family where disagreements result in discussion but do not require divorce. In an age where seemingly everything is political — including entertainment, sports and even funerals — the Church can be a third family made up of members of the left and the right who love one another and seek to honor the same Father who is over the entire family.
Some people sadly think that the Bible is an old book that is outdated. Rather, the Bible is, in fact, a timeless book that is always timely.
As a Bible–teaching pastor, I have great news for you. You may not change the world from being an ugly place, but you can keep the world from changing you into an ugly person. The key is to live by the same power that Jesus did. You can experience God’s power and emotional health, and live a fruitful life to feed others hope and joy in a starving world filled with grief and fear.
Mark Driscoll is the pastor of Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the author of “Spirit Filled Jesus: Live By His Power”
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