The country is like a volcano that is ready to erupt. Smoke is billowing. If the eruption comes, it won’t matter if one is a man or a woman, a Democrat or a Republican, a Conservative or a Progressive, everyone will suffer.
The Senate confirmation hearings on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have exposed deep fault lines that run through our nation. In the past decade, the uneven ground between races has caused Americans to stumble. With the Me Too movement, the tectonic plates of gender have collided and everyone has been shaken.
It is clear that Democrats have one take on the confirmation hearings and Republicans have another. Is it possible for Christians to think about Judge Kavanaugh, his accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and the broader issues of justice and peace in today’s society in a way that transcends political party affiliation and even gender? And, if it is possible, what would characterize such thinking?
Such thinking would place a higher priority on truth than on potential outcomes. Right now, the people who want a conservative justice on the Supreme Court believe that Brett Kavanaugh did not assault Dr. Ford or they believe that it doesn’t matter — that if he did it he was young and inebriated and has, in all likelihood, matured. The people who do not want a conservative justice on the court believe Kavanaugh is guilty of assault and is unfit for service.
It is more than suspicious that opinions should coincide so exactly with potential desired outcomes. It indicates that the mind is serving an agenda rather than the truth. Christians must never elevate desired outcomes above truth. We are not responsible for outcomes, we are responsible to be true. I would very much like to see a conservative jurist on the Supreme Court, but what I want does not change what happened.
The FBI investigation is a good thing, as long as it is not biased. If the facts can be uncovered, they should be. Christians should never be afraid of truth.
But we must remember that truth involves people’s lives. Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford are real people, with families, friends and careers. Demeaning either of them is strictly unacceptable for Christians, who are instructed “to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”
Christians must not stir up hatred. They must not say things like the university professor who hatefully stated that white Republican senators “deserve miserable deaths.” Such a comment can only issue from a well of hatred, which is the opposite of the love and justice God desires from people.
Not that it is hard to understand how that well of hatred overflowed. Thousands of years of the sexual mistreatment of women has raised the level of hostility and mistrust to flood level. Women have been treated as sexual objects for ages and never more so than now, in the Hollywood era.
I have officiated at many weddings over the years, and it is my preference to use the traditional ceremony of the church, with its strong and beautiful vows. But before the vows comes “The Declaration of Consent.” In medieval Europe, the soldiers of one city-state would raid the villages of another. They would carry off young women as plunder, take them to a priest, and force them to marry them. The church, recognizing the illegitimacy of the practice, instituted the “Declaration of Consent” for the protection of women.
After thousands of years of the sexual mistreatment of women, it is not odd that the professor would say what she did. It is not odd, but it is not right either. “Othering” people, whether white GOP senators or female college professors, treating them as a class and not as persons, dehumanizes them. It is not the way Christ taught us to think about others.
How should Christians approach the Senate confirmation hearings? They should be both truth-seekers and peacemakers. Anything less is less than Christian. They scrupulously should avoid adding to the hatred. Only so, can they be a light in our world, and only if their primary allegiance is to God, not to political power.
— Shayne Looper is the pastor of Lockwood Community Church in Branch County, Michigan. Read more at shaynelooper.com.