Today our divided nation is faced with stark differences in our values and our understanding of reality. This division rips and tears at our nation’s soul. So deep are our divisions, that we find it difficult to even talk to each other.
Some of us, look with dismay at a president running roughshod over our deepest values and beliefs. We see a dictator in waiting. We are fearful of what destruction another four years of climate change denial, graft, corruption, alienating allies and bungling diplomacy would bring. To say nothing of mixed messages and contradictions on the Covid19 Pandemic’s staggering death toll in the United States.
Meanwhile others see this same man as a savior, who is filling courts with conservative justices. They find a person fighting the establishment, breaking barriers that hold back the economy and championing the forgotten men and women of middle America.
Two granddaughter’s of Evangelist Billy Graham hold opposing views. Cissie Graham Lynch spoke at the Republican National Convention. She sees President Trump as a fierce advocate for people of faith. Meanwhile granddaughter Jerushah Duford believes Donald Trump to be the antithesis of all her grandfather believed and taught.
I have spent the last four years trying to understand how Evangelical Christians can wholeheartedly support a president who does not reflect basic Christian values of compassion, justice, goodness, mercy, kindness and love. In the process, I’ve read about cognitive dissonance where one holds conflicting values to be true. Add to that “Confirmation Bias” when a person resolves the cognitive dissonance of conflicting values, by selectively choosing to pay attention to only part of what you are witnessing. We see reality shaped through our already perceived truths.
For Jerushad Duford, hearing children were being separated from their parents and put in cages broke through her defenses. It caused her to recognize a reality at odds with her core beliefs of love for God and love for neighbor, especially love for people seeking refuge, fleeing violence and searching for a safe place to live. Reality moved her from tolerating a person she believed she had to vote for, to one who is actively working to defeat the president. She wonders how any person of faith can look at the words and life of Jesus and rationalize voting for Donald Trump.
When our truths collide, the scriptures offer us sound counsel. Personal morality matters in our leaders. The words of Jesus are meant to shape and form our politics, our thinking, our reasoning and our doing. In *Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus echos the prophets in concern for the least and most vulnerable among us. He even tells us that what we have done or not done to one of the least of these, we have done it to him. Before him were the prophets who spoke wisdom to our hearts.
“God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
*The Judgment of the Nations
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46