I am part of a small group of women who meet a couple of times a month for a Bible study. I am the oddball of the group. The five other women are ultra conservative. I guess I am best described as a progressive. I am most definitely in favor of social progress and improvement, whether it is improving access to affordable healthcare, protecting the environment, promoting voting rights and the equality of women, etc. I don’t want to go backwards. I don’t want to maintain things the way they are.
This is not the first time I have been the oddball in a koinonia – a group of believers who get together for support and fellowship. The last time I was so disturbed by right-wing political comments (calling Obama the antichrist and a socialist) that I dropped out of the group even though I genuinely liked the women. This time, I am trying to hang in there and love my friends despite our very different understandings of what it means to follow Christ.
Case in point: Last night, one of the women made an inscrutable comment in response to a question in our study book: How have you seen God use surprising people and circumstances to accomplish his will in this world? She said she heard that the current administration reads more scripture than any administration since JFK and his cabinet meetings start off with prayer.
I was not speechless, though it’s difficult for me to remember all my words when I am emotional about something. I did say, “There may be religious people at his meetings but I think he is a wicked man.” Another woman said, they say he recently became a Christian. I said, “I don’t believe it. If he were truly saved he would be remorseful and repentant about the things he has said and done. He would not denigrate people the way he does.”
For the past couple of years as I have watched Christians support the wicked man who now occupies the oval office, I have vainly tried to make the inscrutable scrutable. I’ve tried to understand why people who follow the moral teachings of Jesus are so willing to ignore the immorality and hatefulness of the president.
I can’t make sense of it.
I understand confirmation bias; we listen to the arguments that fit our worldview. I understand that people have fears for the future. I understand that people have certain ends in mind when they vote.
I don’t understand consequentialism – the idea that the ends justify the means. Christians wanted a man who would appoint a conservative judge to the Supreme Court so they were willing to ignore his wickedness. They struck a bargain with a bigot.
The problem with consequentialism is the collateral damage that comes with the means. Is the country more moral with a pathological liar in the white house? Are we any better at loving our neighbors – other nations – with a nationalist at the helm? Is it worth risking the right to free speech when the emperor cries out “fake news!” every time the press points out that he has no clothes? Are we better at protecting the needy with a selfish, greedy man shaping governmental policies?
Try as I might, I can’t make the inscrutable scrutable.
Image credit: Vincent van Gogh, Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington