I don’t remember any of the churches I grew up in going overboard on the nationalistic fervor, even during the chilliest years of the latter stages of the Cold War
.. We were schooled on the importance of the Christian worldview—in opposition to postmodernism and other philosophical evils. Our teachers typically weren’t well-versed in philosophy, but they warned us zealously against moral relativism, situational ethics, and hypocrisy.
.. I was scared into the kingdom by one of those late-’70s “Left Behind” films. Nothing could be more important than to stand for the truth, even in the face of the anti-Christ’s persecution.
.. We ate apologetics books like communion wafers—and were about as nourished. What we learned was to argue, to corner our opponents in their intellectually unfurnished corners, defeating them with our theistic strength and consistency.
.. Because the pursuit of relevancy is the pursuit of influence, of power. And when power becomes your god, you’ll do as much biblical gymnastics as it takes to get it or keep it.
.. The younger generation now is basically a bunch of theological orphans
.. The opening dialogue is something I see reflected almost every day now in comment threads, news articles, and from friends and family on social media. Not about Democrats, though. Heavens, no. Democrats are still obliged to keep good character, and in fact, they cannot, as their very platform precludes it. Conservatives, however, may do as they like. Say what they want. Get away with almost anything. So long as their platform reads right.
.. A new poll in fact shows that white evangelicals are now the most likely constituency to believe “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” This is up from 30 percent in 2011 to a whopping 72 percent this year. And this is not because evangelicals suddenly decided to show some grace to politicians, because you don’t see this kind of consideration given to political opponents. There is really only one main explanation for this sizable jump in 2017 in the ability to look the other way. Ethics kinda seem situational all of a sudden.
We’ve been abandoned by our teachers. Our guides have left us without fathers. The men and women we looked up to have gone against everything they told us to believe in. We wonder if they ever really believed it themselves.
.. They are listening to more non-white evangelicals, because those folks have learned how to persevere from the margins for centuries.
.. These youngsters who have rejected your
- idolatrous politics, your
- nationalistic faith, your
- moral subjectivity, your
- fear of the alien and the stranger, your
gospel neglect will finally do you proud when they inherit your churches. If they can keep their heads on straight.
First, all ethics is situational ethics. Ethics is shaped and defined by the situation in which it occurs. The Bible is full of ethics that only apply because of the unique situation (it is a highly specific situation when Jacob is applauded for wrestling an angel). Second, morality can be Role-Based. The moral response depends on the role you play in the situation. Different roles carry different amounts of power, and what’s morally conscionable shifts depending how much power you have. As Karen Lebascqz writes, “power that attaches to [one’s] role is morally relevant in determining an appropriate… ethic.” This is the Robin Hood premise–we defend Robin Hood’s morality because he steals from the wealthy to feed the starving.
.. Too often in social discourse, the privileged try to set the terms of enemy-loving. But you lost the right do that when you (or your predecessors) persecuted an entire group.
.. White people cannot demand that people of color love them because they are enemies (racism still exists). Men cannot demand that women love them because they are enemies (see Taylor Swift testimony).
.. Jesus loves his enemies in a strategic, disruptive, threateningly nonviolent way that that supports the nurture, thriving, and growth of his enemies. He confronts enemies who have both more and less power than him:
.. Karen Lebacqz argues that feminists in heterosexual relationships are practicing love of enemy.
.. There is a difference between survival and revenge. Survival is the first definition of love–the desire for your own nurture, thriving, and growth. Revenge is the desire to destroy the enemy’s nurture, thriving, and growth. People in privilege often perceive survival as revenge–an oppressed person defending their thriving is not an assault on your thriving.
.. Can you extend forgiveness-with-survival to neo-Nazis? No, because they are not repentant. But with those who are repentant, you can extend forgiveness-with-survival?
.. you cannot police how someone else loves their enemy. White people, people in privilege, do not get to dictate the terms of enemy-loving.
.. People in privilege can confess loudly that all ethics is situational ethics, that loving your enemy is a slippery, ever-changing, guessing, crazy-making process–but a worthwhile, vital, deeply faithful one.