How God — and Only God — Can Heal Our Divisions
Conservatives and progressives both desperately want to heal our divisions in America. Sometimes I get the sense that progressives don’t believe that of conservatives, but I think most progressives do, and I’m willing to say kudos to them for that.
Except the way they’re going about it is hopelessly doomed to failure. Where unity is needed, their policies promote anger and division. Where truly human freedom of spirit is needed, they’re being driven by guilt instead, and driving us along with them.
Answers That Fail
The pain in our land is deep, the anger is hot, the hurts are real and the danger of it all has risen way too close to the surface. The angle progressives typically take on mending that is to try controlling the people into getting along through policy and law. As if that ever worked!
No, the best high-control approaches could hope to produce is a surface pseudo-mutuality: everyone doing their best not to offend, forever looking back over their shoulder at the enforcers, always focused above all on making sure they won’t break any rules that will get them in trouble.
You call that unity? I call it pretense. You call it freedom? I call it chains.
Some people think whites deserve those chains, in retribution for chains wrapped around black slaves’ ankles and necks earlier in our history, and for continuing injustices against African Americans up to this day. It isn’t just blacks who think so. It’s mood that seems to be just as common among progressive whites.
But a culture of punishment is still a culture of control, fear and anger. It isn’t just the ones being punished who suffer in such an atmosphere. Everyone loses.
Neither, however, would it be right to just shrug off the wrongs done against a large portion of Americans. Unfortunately there are whites who want to do that. Unfortunately (also) that’s partly attributable to extreme measures some people think it would take to make up for all the wrongs. It’s hard to think clearly about real problems when the only solutions you hear are completely over-the-top. And unworkable. And unlikely to solve the real problem anyway.
The Answer We Need
What we need instead is an answer that takes the wrongs seriously, but leads to a unifying solution, not a divisive one. We need an answer that doesn’t brush off guilt but resolves it and brings healing.
I’ve seen that kind of answer in action. One of my best friends made a very serious mistake a few years back. It was a while before I met him, but I can attest to the whole story, especially its good outcome.
Brad had just moved from pastoring a large church in Michigan to another large church in South Carolina, when he chose to commit adultery. It devastated his family, forced him out of the one decent job he know how to do, and above all just about destroyed his marriage.
But not quite. For they all found healing together in Christ. Brad and his wife, Heidi, told their story recently in an interview with Lee Strobel. I’m convinced their answer is the same one our whole country needs. It’s about taking sin seriously, and then letting God do His healing work. Which we all need.
The interview here should pick up at the key moment, but if not, you might want to fast forward to about 11:30.