Share a Meal, Save America

Love takes action. That's why sharing a meal is so powerful.

Rep. Joe Barton, R- Texas, right, manager of Republican baseball team and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., manager of the Democrats' team, share a lighthearted moment while conducting a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center. The two announced that the annual Congressional baseball game would go on after the shooting at the Republican practice in Alexandria on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. 

By Liberty McArtor Published on June 17, 2017

Today, it’s hard enough for family members to gather for a meal. So inviting a stranger, let alone someone with opposing political views, to sup at one’s table sounds ridiculous. But that’s what America’s politicians did after a horrific shooting left Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and four others wounded at baseball practice.

In a press conference Wednesday, emotional Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) announced Thursday’s Congressional baseball game between Republicans and Democrats would go on. The two are the teams’ managers. Doyle also announced that his team would host the entire Republican team for dinner at the Democratic club. “To share some food and drink and get to know each other a little better,” he said. 

“I’m going to order the most expensive steak on the menu,” Barton teased. “If you have steak on the menu.”

“We’re Democrats. We don’t have steak,” Doyle retorted. The friends laughed.

No, You’re Immoral

For The Weekly Standard Thursday, Andrew Cline recalls how he and a liberal friend used to share pizza after working on opposing political issues — a kind of bipartisan camaraderie now rare.

“Only 9 percent of Democrats would use the word ‘moral to describe Republicans, a 2016 Pew Research Center poll found,” Cline reports. “Only 3 percent of Republicans would use that word to describe Democrats.” 

Though the numbers shocked me at first, I quickly realized they made sense.

Preparing a meal takes investment. Opening up your home requires trust. Sharing your table means vulnerability. 

Consider Christians alone in last year’s presidential election. Believers on the Right and Left accused each other of marring their Savior’s name and commandments because of who they supported. Christians who didn’t support Trump were supposedly going to be complicit in the downfall of the republic and the abortions of untold millions of babies. Those who did support Trump were apparently complicit in racism and rape culture.

These were Christians. The group that’s supposed to be recognized by our love for each other. Instead, we tossed damning insults, doubting each other’s sincerity in faith.

“It is hard to form friendships with people we believe to be morally corrupt,” Cline writes.

When Democrats and Republicans view each other as immoral, they’re both right. Because we’re all immoral. And we’re all getting worse.

Statistics show that religion is declining, which naturally causes morality to decline. The Atlantic covered this phenomenon in their April issue.

“The culture war over religious morality has faded; in its place is something much worse,”author Peter Beinart explained. “Secularization isn’t easing political conflict.”

According to LifeWay Research, most Americans are “concerned about declining moral behavior.” But we’re divided over what defines morality. With consensus lacking on this important point, it’s no wonder animosity continues to grow. 

A Recipe for Friendship

Recently conservative pundits have debated about whether or not we are in a “second Civil War.” Is it justified to call the other political side the “enemy,” or is that hyperbole? The truth is that we only have one true enemy. So whether we call political opponents “enemies” doesn’t really matter. What does matter is what the Bible says to do with our earthly enemies: Love them.

Love isn’t a feeling. It’s active. That’s why sharing a meal is so powerful. Preparing a meal takes investment. Opening up your home requires trust. Sharing your table means vulnerability. 

Invite the new family from church, from school, from down the street over for dinner — political views notwithstanding.

Eating and drinking are literally fundamental to life. So allowing someone else to serve you in such a basic way is humbling. Accepting what they’ve prepared communicates acknowledgement of and appreciation for their effort.

What do you get when you mix investment, trust, and vulnerability with humility, acknowledgment and appreciation? 

A recipe for friendship. The kind of intentional, bipartisan friendship we need.

Political Views Notwithstanding

“Every member of Congress is a person” with family, Barton said Wednesday. 

“When you know somebody’s kid, somebody’s spouse, play baseball with them, you see them at the gym and you talk to them there, it’s different,” Doyle added. He regrets that on Capitol Hill, “there are very few opportunities to interact outside having our suits on.”

But Doyle and Barton want to change that in light of Wednesday’s politically-motivated attack.

“When the leadership of this country is civil towards one another, maybe the public will start being civil towards one another too,” Doyle said. In the wake of political violence, he and other House Democrats led the way by inviting Republicans to dine.

Perhaps the rest of us should follow suit. We should invite the new family from church, from school, from down the street over for dinner — political views notwithstanding. 

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  • tz1

    What does matter is what the Bible says to do with our earthly enemies: Love them.

    I assume you don’t mean EROS, i.e. have sex with them. The earthly enemies who have killed thousands of unborn? Sup with them. Islamic terrorists? Love them and sup with them. If you are brutally raped, invite the rapist and serve them a meal. (Go to Sweden if you wish to do so quickly).

    I’m not sure if you are stupid, insane, both, or can’t handle reality, subtlety, or exegesis.

    Yes, we “are divided over what is moral” and many don’t consider murdering unborn babies and selling their body parts immoral, usury to destroy families or main street businesses immoral (Greed is good!), pornography, or the comic severed head of the president, or the stab Trump to death play variant immoral. We seem past “gay marriage” and “transgender bathrooms”.

    Most don’t even bother speaking up.

    Just remember to “love” the person who is killing you. I have a gun and try to defend both the innocent and Christians, but out of courtesy and because you don’t desire it, if someone wants to torture you to death, I will let you love them to your dying breath.

    • Alvinator

      This response seems a bit over the top. I think the author’s message here is sound. No one is expected to sit down to dinner with a terrorist or someone torturing them. But sitting down to dinner with a democrat who supports abortion might be a good way to begin to know them, and thus possibly influence them to vote differently in the future.

      • tz1

        Spiritual cancer requires spiritual chemotherapy.
        I’ve known few liberals who can be moved by dialectical arguments – they dismiss them as some white patriarchy Christian thing.
        Even gentle rhetoric (e.g. gun control: you want women to be raped because you don’t want them to be able to defend themselves) rarely works in this toxic environment.
        But I can’t sup with someone and use anything but sharp rhetoric that causes emotional pain (“You want women to be raped?”), otherwise it won’t get through.
        Everything on the left is now identity, i.e. tribal. Anything outside is taboo. For them to change on any significant issue like abortion, they will be ejected from the Tribe. The DNC head has said pro-lifers aren’t welcome.

        Perhaps at Versallies when the treaty was being negotiated, Chamberlain’s position on the Sudatenland was sound, but not in 1938.

        We are at war and being bombed (often f-bombed). Invite a suicide bomber to dinner?

    • Az1seeit

      At the risk of appearing “stupid, insane or both”, I’d like to point out:
      ‘….to “love” the person who is killing you.’ ….is exactly what Jesus did…

      We all get your point, and I suspect your answer reflects a bitterness/anger/frustration/incredulity that we all feel as we watch our world rush headlong into the arms of utter unreality and evil. All of those emotions make it impossible to imagine even the desire to build a bridge of any kind. If we were to be honest, the fact is, we listen to the hateful rhetoric, consider the abusive and destructive actions and experience the breathtaking hypocrisy, and are hard pressed to see the perpetrators as anything but monsters intent on murder. I get it.

      The fact is, they exist: the ballpark shooter the most current example. Aside from them, these are fellow citizens we are talking about; friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, co-workers…not obvious psychopaths, terrorists or the antichrist….although we wonder about that. Yes. Righteous indignation rises up in response to their unfair characterizations of us as haters worthy of death, not to mention their blatant bigotry. But truly…if we hate them in return…can we claim ANY moral high ground? The problem remains that destruction is the end game unless something changes the trajectory.

      This piece proposes a possible alternative posture to our… human…reactions to the hatred. And I would posit that it will take an act of God in our wills and emotions to find it in us to let go of our…righteous…indignation and embrace that alternative. As Christians, we have already embraced the act of God that makes it possible, and that is our total dependence on Christ to be anything but hateful fallen slaves of the God of this world. This challenges me to once again confess my need for Christ and depend on Him to walk in that love that made it possible for Him, while experiencing excruciating death…at their hands… out of love for mankind, said “Father, forgive them…” Like you, tz1, I don’t have it in me. But I know the One who does….

      • tz1

        I can love the person who is killing me.
        What about the people who have killed the 60 million unborn children – even after the must know that it is a mortal sin?

        George Tiller LITERALLY had the blood of 20 thousand dead babies on his hands, many in the 9th month and perfectly viable, and this was in Kansas, not NY or CA or WA. Scott Roeder killed him. Most “Christians” like you seemed to be more upset at one monster being stopped – Roeder’s crime wasn’t nullified by the jury and they weren’t all atheists – than over the 20,000 dead babies. Did any of them, did you love the 20,000 dead babies more than Tiller?

        • Az1seeit

          I stand by my response as it answers your question. I will only add that, if you read the whole thing and got my point, then your subtle suggestion that I am questionably a Christian seems to come from a place of bitterness in you…understandable as so many “Christians” support abortion. But since my stance in that had nothing to do with my answer to you, I’ll not go there now. I would ask, respectfully, that you give me the benefit of the doubt and realize I am not your enemy, nor am I criticizing you…simply expanding on the truth of our dependency on Christ to be anything better than the people you see as murderers. Peace, tz1

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