Excerpts: Dialogue Between a Trump Voter & Distraught Progressives

disagreeing respectfully
As promised in an earlier post, below are excerpts from an online dialogue I initiated after the Trump election of 2016. I joined a liberal, “safe persons” discussion group, not to gloat or be a troll, but to help foster understanding.

The possibility of mutual understanding now seems almost hopeless to me. From this discussion I learned that much of the left actually believes that half the country really is hateful and immoral, or at least does not care about oppressed people. This discussion was 3 weeks after the election, and many of these people were truly hurting, depressed, and afraid. This Instagram post sums up their reasoning more concisely than anything else I’ve read:

T Madoff anti-Trump rant

Instagram post by Tanya Madoff

On the bright side, this discussion gave me hope that some people can be brought to a place of seeing a different perspective. It was not easy. It required overlooking a lot of insults and condescension; a small price to pay in my opinion. My aim was not to convert people or to justify myself, but to simply enable “progressive” people to see outside of their own frame of reference.

The discussion was quite lengthy. I’ve tried to keep only the meatiest parts. If you’re here to see mud-slinging and insults you’re at the wrong place. I see this as an attempt at a respectful discussion between caring, intelligent people.

THE DISCUSSION (My comments in bold)

I began with this comment, in response to a group member who authored and posted an article in Forbes. Here I asked the admins if they thought it would be helpful for me to post my why-I-voted-for-Trump blog. No one thought it would be helpful:

ME: It is very helpful for me, a “religious conservative” to hear about the deep, negative, emotional impact that this election has had on others.

It is helpful to me because I had been misreading the motives of the left, (at least the rank and file left,) for the past 8 years. I confess that I suspected that the progressive campaign to label everyone who disagreed with progressives as “hateful,” “bigoted,” “anti-gay,” “racist,” and “anti-woman” was simply a political ploy to get religious conservatives to shut-up and leave the public square. In other words, I didn’t think liberals/progressives actually believed that half the country was morally clueless. Now I see that many people actually do believe this.

I would be depressed too if I believed this. I want to take care that I do not attempt to invalidate the feelings of those who are hurting. I see and understand that the feelings are real. At the same time, is it fair to assess the beliefs behind the feelings? Would it be helpful to offer evidence that half of American voters are not KKK-supporting misogynists?

I don’t see how comfort and healing are possible if the only possible comfort is political agreement with those who are hurting. I believe the solution for America is a return to pluralism within the constraints of constitutional government. Within those constraints I believe we can at least trust each others motives, even if we respectfully disagree on public policy.

This quote from the above article breaks my heart:

“I cried for a long time because I got hit hard with the realization that so many people would choose a man who is hateful, anti-Constitution and wholly unfit to head, just to keep a woman from being in charge,..”

Not only am I saddened that she apparently actually believes this, but that her feelings are based on something that is so far from the truth.

If it would help to foster understanding, I would be happy to post my blog post wherein I explained why I felt like I had to do the unthinkable and vote “for” Trump.
Admins? Would this be helpful?

Here is one of the “no” replies that was well stated:

PAMELA: No, echoing Annie, it would not be helpful for this simple reason: those who chose to vote for DJT either (a) didn’t care about what he said about nearly every group in society other than straight white men or (b) decided he wasn’t actually serious and something else was more important than acknowledging others’ basic humanity. This is why it hurts so deep, to me, and why it still does, three weeks later. As someone else put it: “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”

The distrust was so deep that someone accused me of going ahead and linking my blog post against the wishes of the admins, when in reality the link was to the Forbes article to which I was referring. One woman was fair minded enough to point this out:

ELYSIA: I think it is fair to point out that the link on the post above is not to his blog, but to the article he referenced as being helpful for understanding others’ emotions. But Scott, I think the feedback you received on the other group was accurate. Don’t expect to convince people here that your vote was justified.

ME: Elysia – Thank you for clarifying what I linked.

While I don’t believe the dichotomies that were set up in the feedback from the other group are accurate, I understand why people would feel the way they do. But I do agree with you in that I don’t expect to convince anyone here that my vote was justified. It remains to be seen if even I believe my vote was justified. I have not been trying to justify myself here. My hope was to simply foster understanding. I thought it might be some small comfort for people to be able to understand how, for many, voting for Trump had nothing to do with hate, bigotry, etc; that the picture is not as dark as it seems. But I see now that this would not answer their concerns. I asked a question. The answer is no. I accept that.

Following is a reply from a progressive PhD student and adjunct professor at a Presbyterian theological seminary:

MIKE: Well, you’re half-way there. It’s nice of you to finally accept that people’s beliefs and fears are actually genuine and not just a “political ploy.” Now you just have to just take the additional step of accepting that their fears and moral judgments are based on legitimate concerns and not just “based on something that is so far from the truth.” Because right now, by trying to tell people that their fears are not based in reality, you are basically engaged in gaslighting.

The reality is that people’s fears and moral judgments about people who voted for Trump are based on the ACTUAL things that he and his supporters have said. Actual policies, actual words, actual intentions. These actual things are what we are afraid of. These actual things are what we are judging to be morally reprehensible (“clueless” is way too soft to cover the things being advocated). Yes, we are saying that if one supports such things, one is acting immorally.

Now maybe you don’t support those things personally. Maybe, as you say, you and millions of others Trump voters supported him for other reasons *in spite of* these other immoral things. But even if that is the case, your vote still indicates that those other things did not seem bad enough to you to be deal breakers. And, like it or not, THAT is what we are still judging to be immoral, and THAT is why we are still afraid of you.

ME: Mike – Thank you for your critique. If I may, I’d like to clarify a couple of points here as I feel you’re misreading what I’ve said.

Please note that I never said I believed people’s “beliefs and fears” were a political ploy. I said that I had believed that the tactic of publicly shaming/labeling anyone who disagreed with progressives was a political ploy. I still believe it was and is for many activists – clearly they see this as a way to shape public opinion, (not a very good or effective way, in my opinion.) What is different is that I now see that many people really believe that those who disagree with them must be doing so out of hatred, bigotry, etc.

Secondly, believe me, I grasp your point about Trump’s “actual” reckless and divisive comments. I can’t defend Trump’s character. I think he’s a horrible presidential candidate and a jerk. My comment about the woman-in-question’s feelings being “based on something so far from the truth” was addressing her specific comment. She is “terrified,” and suffering panic attacks and crying fits because she assumes people voted for Trump “just to keep a woman from being in charge.” That’s wildly incorrect, and it’s not gaslighting to say so.

I’ll respond to your point about moral judgment to the group because I think it eloquently addresses the concerns of the entire group.

I’ll post that response next, but first I want to briefly post an exchange with a self-described queer woman. She shared her experience at length. She was well educated, articulate, polite, and obviously hurting. It was no joke. I think these few sentences sum up the heart of what she shared:

ERIN: … Sir. Your belief that the sincere beliefs and advocacy from people like me was all an attempt to silence you is… honestly, just painful for me to hear. It is painful for me because it mirrors the responses I have heard from my own family about my future in this country. It is painful because it says that you hear the genuine fears of Americans and assume that we are lying when we ask to be protected and welcomed here… Sir, I am heartbroken. I don’t want to listen to you justify yourself now…You are not helping me by justifying yourself. You are not listening to me or to my fears. You are helping me still less by insisting that you were okay, you really respect me,..

I felt there was no appropriate response to this except to acknowledge her pain, to validate her feelings, and to quietly leave. Though she misrepresents my stated beliefs, and even though those misunderstandings are causing her pain, a mere online discussion would not help her at this time…

ME: Erin – Thank you for taking time to explain your story. It is good for me to hear you, and your words do make an impact on me. I cannot wave off your concerns and I see that they touch you at the deepest level. I don’t feel free to dialogue with you since you say you can’t listen to me right now. I accept that and I wish you all the best.

This was followed by yet another exhortation urging me to listen. I feel we can all learn from this. We have to stop talking past each other. We do need to listen to each other. I joined the group in hopes of being understood. These people were open to me listening to and understanding them, so that’s where I started.

ANNIE: Scott, I dearly hope you are listening. The people posting on this thread are pouring out from their pain and working hard to craft the words they share.

ME: I am listening. If I may reply to what I’ve heard, Amber, Erin, Marie, and Mike have all articulated a similar argument that I believe gets at the crux of the issue that is causing so much fear and pain.

Mike stated that even if a Trump-voter doesn’t support Trump’s actual policies/words/intentions, a Trump vote “…still indicates that those other things did not seem bad enough to you to be deal breakers… THAT is what we are still judging to be immoral…”

Amber linked a perfectly articulated, concise summary of this idea. [The Instagram shot I posted above.]

Erin asserts that “This is not a case of there being two equal sides with equal concerns and fears… (My) “two sides not communicating” concept is wrong because it assumes that the fears of the two Americas have equal basis and grounds.

Marie points out what love is not, and ends with, “…we’ve learned that “respectfully disagreeing” is often code for “not wanting to listen, because then I might agree.”

My concern, and the reason I joined this group, is that I am deeply concerned over how divided the nation has become. My hope is that this group can accomplish something unique in this climate. (Yes, I recognize that I am an outsider, and I don’t expect people to warm up to my beliefs.) When I look down the road, I see two options:

1) A permanently divided, polarized nation, wherein the pendulum continues to swing back and fourth every 4 or 8 years. The pendulum increasingly becomes a wrecking ball as the party in power seeks to force its agenda onto the people, only to have its “gains” undone when power shifts parties. Anger, bitterness, and resentment continue to grow, as one group in power seeks to marginalize the other. I think this option sucks. Force does not change hearts. Totalitarianism always creates an underground.

2) A free, pluralistic society wherein competing ideas respectfully coexist and compete in a free marketplace of ideas, within the constraints of constitutional government. I contend that the US Declaration and Constitution answer all basic questions about American governance, and we should leave the rest to pluralism and freedom. Any legislation must constitutionally address the legitimate concerns of ALL sides or else there will always be backlash. Addressing Erin’s assertion in the current debate, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and sexism are NOT legitimate concerns. I agree with her in this. However, both equal treatment under the law, and religious liberty ARE legitimate, explicitly stated constitutional concerns. If we cannot all agree on this then our situation truly is hopeless.

Hearts are not changed by attempting to force ideology onto people, either by governmental means, marketing, or by shaming/labeling/judging. There must be freedom to dissent. There must be the right of legal conscientious objection. At the risk of triggering some, I have to point out that the current [Obama] administration has been unbending in its refusal to allow dissent regarding its new policies around social issues. Hillary promised to continue the same strategy. (Examples provided upon request.) This overrides virtually every other concern to me, because if we get constitutional government – freedom, pluralism, and conscientious objection – then every citizen gets a voice and a safer America..

Many here seem to be appalled and offended that I saw the hate-shaming, labeling, and name-calling from the left over the past 8 years (well before Trump entered the picture) as a political ploy. Yet the left has widely assumed that religious liberty concerns are simply a political ploy and a cover for bigotry. I would be surprised if anyone here finds this widespread assumption to be appalling.

I don’t have a problem with the moral superiority of the left. I would hope that we all live according to a morality that we consider to be the most sound. What I have a serious problem with is using the irresistible force of government to force an ideology onto an unwilling population, and refusing to allow conscientious objection. It hasn’t worked, obviously. Apparently close to half of American voters, if forced to choose, would choose an unqualified asshole over a skilled totalitarian politician.

I am listening, but since this is a discussion group, I would suggest that I am not the only one here who needs to listen.

The power of a preconception is very strong. My favorite person in the group took THREE TRIES before she finally understood my point. She is the best at conflict resolution in the group. Here is where she gets it:

ELYSIA: Thanks, Scott. I’m still having a hard time understanding. I’ve reread the first comment, and know somehow you are tying this into constitutionality and legislation, but I’m still unclear. Might this be a workable paraphrase : “Racism, bigotry, xenophobia and sexism are troubling, but if we try and legislate them there will be a backlash, so we shouldn’t. Likewise, we shouldn’t legislate religion.” ? Additional correction/clarification welcomed.

ME: No, I’m simply saying that
1) both sides need to hear and understand each other, rather than trying to “hit back harder,” because
2) both sides have legitimate moral, constitutional concerns.
3) bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny are not conservative values. They are not morally and constitutionally “legitimate concerns.” The legitimate concerns of which I am speaking from the conservative side are 1st amendment concerns. Yet my position is continually portrayed as a political ploy to enable bigotry and hate. I refuse to wear that label because it’s no more true for me than it is for you.

Thank you for bothering to attempt to understand. The practice of offering a paraphrase, and asking if it works is a great way to create mutual understanding. You are a shining example.

ELYSIA: OH!!!!! Seeing your recent reply to Annie, I think you are saying “Being racist, xenophobic, or misogynistic is not legitimate.” But, whew! I sure wasn’t hearing that. Thanks for being patient with me.

With respect to the items outlined in this most recent comment:
1) I agree
2) sure
3) I know they aren’t codified as conservative values. I fear they are positions shared by far too much of the population, irrespective of political affiliation, and ignored by many more. And (as I imagine you’ve realized in this group) plenty of people feel like ignoring is tantamount to supporting. Having a president-elect who makes statements that align with these “values” sullies the water for all conservatives, whether fair or not…

We’re all flawed. And we all have fingers to point. And somehow we’ve got to find a way to work through all this muck anyhow, so we can be better neighbors, friends, allies, and people.

ME: Agreed. I would suggest that it needn’t even necessarily be about finger pointing. We may simply have differing worldviews from which our beliefs and actions flow. I submit that the way that we live together is to promote pluralism and freedom within the constraints of the Constitution. This precludes the government, regardless of party, from imposing an ideology or religious belief onto the population. I think that anyone, from either side, who goes with “wrecking ball option #1” (above) may find themselves getting unexpectedly bit in the butt eventually by an intrusive government as mores continue to change.

Bigotry, judgmentalism, and discrimination are not tendencies that belong to conservatism alone. They are universal human tendencies that exist wherever deeply felt opinions exist. For those who don’t believe that, here are 3 examples:

[For brevity I’ve edited out the descriptions, but my three examples of judgmentalism and discrimination were: 1) “new atheist” Sam Harris, 2) a conflict between the trans community and radical feminism, and 3) the Obergefell decision.]

My point is that this not a simple liberal vs conservative debate. I can easily live with and value people who disagree with me, or who are different from me. The conflict comes when people attempt to force me to participate in their political ideology or religion.

After this the discussion ended. Thanks for enduring an unusually long post. I hope it was worth your time! I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

talking into can

 

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36 comments on “Excerpts: Dialogue Between a Trump Voter & Distraught Progressives

  1. It …. really …..was……long. Friendly suggestion: brevity is the soul of wit. Love you and Molly……

    • Julie – I know!!!…I felt really bad about that, but I couldn’t see a way around it.
      It was a conversation and I wanted to be fair to the people I quoted. But yeah, over twice as long as a normal post. ‘Sorry. Thanks for taking time to read it and give your input.

  2. Heather Young says:

    Scott,

    Thank you so much for writing this and letting us see people like you and the folks you were writing to work SO hard to listen and seek understanding. It is the only way we will function together and not have the pendulum swing back and forth in the different presidencies swing more wildly and hurt people in the process.

    I have struggled as a Christian mightily with the Christian right and felt further and further distanced from them in the last several years because I’ve been working in jail ministry. The folks I work with have been through so much and with a little bit of help from churches, individuals, and yes, even government I think we would find we would have more whole individuals who could go forward with their lives.

    But working with marginalized populations has had me working with the Left and even the Christian Left (which I didn’t even understand a few years ago existed! What rock was I living under?)

    I describe myself these days as a left leaning pro-life Christian and that confounds so many folks. But I find that emotionally I will relate to the Left far more than I ever expected to. Honestly the first few years of jail ministry I found myself questioning everything because my women’s lives and what they’d been through hurt so much.

    I found that as I connected with black Christian pastors, leaders and workers that they have never been “tied” to a party like a lot of white suburbanite Christians are. They say stuff like “we don’ have the luxury of sticking with the Republican party like y’all do because it matters so much in our communities who gets elected” (like for us privileged folks we could just walk away from politics and our lives would be relatively okay)

    I found myself asking REPEATEDLY “Jesus, what is the role of government” because my friends on the right did not want to spend money on people’s lives. Well the way I did anyway! When people looked at me as “oh, we’re losing one from the right” I’d say “well, this is all Jesus’s fault for calling me into this ministry.” Meaning largely that all my old Republican platitudes just fell short and seemed irrelevant or unloving or worse.

    So, I now find myself watching Christians and noticing that the ones who stay closest to the hurting and marginalized care less about all the divisions of politics and more about what we can do locally to improve folks lives and especially get parents and kids living together again as families.

    I have found I don’t fit on the right, and I don’t exactly fit on the Left although some days the Left seems less “mean and judgmental” to me. The fact that Rusty and I have produced two screaming liberals means the discussions are lively and they are interested in what their parents think because our Christianity still apparently looks “real” to them. They say we are pro-lifers and not just “pro-birthers” and we’ve found all this coming from young 20 somethings very interesting. We are losing millennials from the church, ours included, and we, Rusty and I, are having to open our hearts and minds to them as they process life. They are compassionate loving liberals and they detest the Christian right with all their being. But somehow they see our lives and prison ministry as evidence that there are Christ followers who like the human race and aren’t all about our privileged lives. This has all been SO interesting because we’ve watched Christians unfriend our kids and write us off and from our perspective we feel closer to our Three in One God than we have in a long time. Life is funny.

    I appreciate your thoughtful writing more than you know. It gives me hope. It really does! Thanks brother!

    Heather

    • Wow Heather! Thank you for taking the time to share your story, and also for your kind words.
      You guys should come to Colorado and hang out with us. It would be fun to compare notes. I have a ton of questions about your experience! “What is the role of government?” has been a big question for me too. For me it defines the difference between conservative and liberal.

      Maybe I’ve been lucky. My experience with the evangelical church has been overwhelmingly positive, (and I’ve had exposure to a great many great churches.) As I write this, so many people come to mind who are amazingly caring, authentic, giving, and compassionate. I haven’t really seen the judgmental/meanness thing much. We’ve had the occasional cartoonish “religious right” person in our church, but it’s never come from the top down and those people usually become dissatisfied with the lack of political fervor coming from the pulpit, and move on.

      Anyway, I’m excited to hear what you are up to. Thanks for the encouragement. Mollie can tell you I often wonder if I’m wasting my time blogging.

  3. Mark James says:

    Scott,

    I just have to weigh in on this post. Most of what we are hearing from the disgruntled left is coming from a very small loud-mouthed group of people. They shout their assertions, vulgarity, and, misinformation with the mainstream media, as well as college professors, as their megaphone. But they are a very, very small group, perhaps less than 5 million people spread across the country, mostly in large cities. Sure, my number is a bit arbitrary, but I think most professionals who monitor social movements would agree that the rabid left doesn’t represent the vast majority of Americans. They just have a very loud and profane mouth.

    Most of what we hear from the left is simply rage. There are no policies, no desire to unite as Americans, no solutions, no cooperation – nothing but a barrage of angry words. And there is no substance. Most of what we are hearing is anecdotal. They speak in feelings, rather than that which is lawful or Constitutional. But feelings don’t count in a society predicated upon law. If you play a game of Monopoly, you agree to follow the rules of the game. Just because you lose and feel bad, doesn’t mean you get to circumvent the rules.

    I’ll reference the Civil War. If the country were more divided along geographical lines, this extreme leftist wing would be calling for a new Civil War, and just as violent, because, from their own words, they are intolerant of opposing views, the very definition of bigotry. In the Civil War, the Confederacy was correct on Constitutional grounds, but hopelessly wrong on moral grounds. The Federals were indeed taking their property illegally. I know that sounds terrible, but in that day, slaves were property and they had a bill-of-sale to prove it, much like we have a car registration. Rather than fix the situation through the legislative and Constitutional mechanisms, the Feds ‘took’ the property without authority. So, I’d be pissed too.

    Like the run-up to the Civil War, over the last few decades, we have seen Congress abdicate their responsibility and authority in the face of a globalist theory, hostile media, and outspoken liberal left that made most Republicans wither. Rather than stand on the Constitution, even if it brings a certain amount of crisis, the legislative branch was content to avoid fixing real problems which caused the average American to suffer.

    The Civil War was basically over before it started because the Confederacy was morally wrong and they were no match for the emerging industrial Union. Had the Federals performed their Constitutional duty to make law and settle the issue, the war probably could have been avoided. It took 630,000 lives to settle the issue and gave birth to the KKK as well civil rights abuses. Today, the rabid left wants to circumvent the Constitutional process be it states rights, judges, consensus, etc. In this case, unlike the Confederacy, they are wrong both morally and legally.

    Where am I going with this? Following this election, the ideological war is over. The remnant leftists rave, protest, loot, burn, assault, and even shoot people, but they have no cause or solutions to offer, and whatever moral grounds they claim is wasted by the barrage of name-calling and profane vitriol. Trump is not a bigot, misogynist, homophobe, xenophobe, or any of those things. Nor is he a fascist, Hitler, KKK, or racist. The extreme left can assert those things, but it doesn’t make them true. (By the way, my step-son, Joe, photographed a man being shot at a protest in Seattle.)

    So, they are a small group with a big mouth. It doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t cause harm. Just the opposite. By labeling someone so causally and so often as a Nazi or fascist, they invite violence. What do you do with a fascist? You kill them. If this trend keeps going, again, fomented by a small group, the next step will be easy to justify.

    Their constant unhappy drumbeat of “F**k Trump or “This c**t grabs back”, as so many protest signs have raved, is further pushing them to the fringes. They’re killing their brand! They are confirming what most voters thought but now fully see on display. It’s tough enough that the left has lost most state legislators, state governorships, both houses on the Federal level, and the Presidency. Now they are cementing in the minds of voters that they did the right thing by voting for Trump. Come the next election cycle, the extreme left will have to either run a moderate candidate or suffer more loss. The war is over; they just won’t accept it. It’s like Jefferson Davis running down to Texas to raise a new Confederate army to make another go of it. The cause was lost. For the modern leftist, there is no cause, just rage. That’s all anyone needs to know.

    • Hi Mark,
      Well, I disagree with a lot of what you’ve said here. Most notably I disagree that the ideological war is over. I couldn’t disagree more. Trump barely won. If the Dems had run pretty much anyone other than Hillary, Trump would’ve lost. All the dems have to do next time is put up someone who is well spoken and compassionate sounding and he/she will easily be our next president.

      I also think you’re wrong about the mainstream left. I know these people. They DO have policies. They DO have substance. They DO speak in lawful and constitutional terms. They just do so from a different worldview than mine. I think most of them mean well, I just think they’re wrong and that their solutions will not have their intended effect in the real world.

      They’re digging in and so are you. Nothing good will come from that. This is why I’m going to continue to reach out to the left. They may not be misunderstanding you, but I am certain they are misunderstanding me. So I will continue to seek mutual understanding.

      Government can’t fix this.

      • Mark James says:

        Hi Scott,
        We disagree on a lot of points here. Concerning Trump, if you look at the national map by county, you see that the country is by and large red with blue islands in the large cities. That means that the liberal left, of whom we’re really talking about and trying to ‘understand’, is quite small. I make a distinction between the liberal left and the average Democrat. A good many of Democrats are just regular folks. They’re Christian, black, white, Hispanic, women, bikers, military veterans, own guns, want to be left alone, aren’t happy about Obamacare, want changes in immigration, and don’t like top down federal control over their lives. A good many of these Democrats voted for Trump and the Blue Wall back east came down. Trump won big with the electoral college and would have won by a larger margin except that some states, like Colorado, seem to be confused, thus Colorado was a blue state in this election. Counties that should have gone red, went blue. If Hillary had won, it would have been in part because Blue Colorado couldn’t figure it out.

        So the group we are talking about is this small angry liberal mob. They have no platform that anyone cares about. You say they DO have policies, that they DO have substance, and that they speak in lawful and constitutional terms. What are the policies they support? Where is the substance? Especially, where is the lawful and constitutional language. The status quo is not a policy. Their position is nothing more that what they oppose. On the other hand, the mainstream left, as I noted above, aren’t that different from you and I. They want individualism, they want a change in immigration policy, they want a solution to health care, they want jobs and American industry, they want to take care of our veterans, etc. They’re answer to Trump is not to break further to the left and hold a profane sign, but to give Trump a chance and see what he can do.

        The mainstream left is easily understood because the liberal, ideological wing of the Democratic party has abandoned them. The ideological war of the far left is over. They’re digging in. I’m not digging in. I’m looking to see what happens and so far I like what I see. What do you want Trump to do? Do you think Hillary was a better choice? Or a libertarian that hardly anyone knows and has no consensus? It seems to me that what you really want is to understand the extremists which are fading. That’s like trying to understand ISIS. Who cares? Let’s just summon the will to finish them off. We’re not hopelessly divided as some posts have suggested. Only some. Division in our country has always existed because it was designed to foster debate. We didn’t elect a saint, but a leader who the has the courage to kick out the extreme left and forge a new path more in line with the original intent of our Constitution. Here is the most important point and it comes from Kenneth Copeland: We elect our leader and pray for him. We pray for Godly wisdom and restoration of the American ideals that guide this country.

        • Did you read the blog post?
          The people I was seeking understanding with were not extremists. If you saw something extreme in their comments, please correct me by copying and pasting it for me in your next reply. They are apparently compassionate people with good intentions. I am not at war with them and they are not my enemies, at least as far as I am concerned. Even if they are, as a follower Jesus I have been given a mandate to love them, and so have you, bro.

          I think it’s ridiculous to compare these people to ISIS. Then, to follow that comparison with, “Who cares? Let’s just summon the will to finish them off” is appalling. Would you mind clarifying? Are you saying we should kill off the Left? If not what does “finish them off” mean? Where do you think they’re going to go?

  4. In my early Christianity, I used to think that when Jesus advised that we not cast our pearls before swine, I must confess I didn’t understand why He used the terms or phrasing He chose to use. I understood “pearls” to signify the preciousness of the gospel or other truths, but I wasn’t quite sure why He referred to “swine”, since Jesus wasn’t one to engage in petty name-calling (when He used “white-washed tombs”, that was of course an analogy, not an attempt at petty name-calling).

    Years later, after reading Dallas Willard’s commentary on Matthew 7:6, I finally understood it. While the “pearls” were analogous to something precious, like TRUTH, the “swine” was not an exercise in name-calling at all. Jesus was observing that literal swine cannot eat something even as precious as literal pearls. Because they can’t eat them, if you attempt to feed pearls to swine, the swine will eventually get hungry enough and turn around and tear you up because you’re a lot more edible that the pearls. So Jesus’ point was that we ought not attempt to give the truth to those who have no heart to receive it and who, because they do not find it useful, will reject it and attack you for giving them something which they disdain.

    Additionally, discussions over the 1st Amendment and the freedom to hold and express different ideas is great. However, the reason a ’peacefully coexistent pluralistic society’ does not and can never exist is that civil policy must be predicated on someone’s world view. Since such policy cannot, in some schizophrenic fashion, be ground in contradictory world views without being self-defeating, we must ask ‘whose world view will determine public policy?’ And herein is where the division really arises. When the rubber meets the road in the legislative arena, groups with different world views want their values to drive laws. Laws, by their very nature, are coercive, which means someone will be coerced into submitting to the another’s world view. This is why a society must have shared values if it’s to survive (i.e., this is why we’re supposed to be a “melting pot” and not a hyphenated-America), otherwise we have “multiculturalism” and “diversity” (of world views) which, by their very nature, divide people into their respective ideological enclaves. Note that early Christians found themselves having to “coexist” with non-Christians in a pagan Roman empire, but it was a far from peaceful coexistence when those Christians were being thrown to the lions.

    All of this to say, while your motives were clearly noble and upright, it is unprofitable to attempt to reason with irrational Leftists who hate your world view and have no interest in giving serious consideration to your attempt to defend or explain it. Jesus’ advise (not to cast your pearls before swine) was good in His day and it still applies today.

    • Thanks Frank,
      I’ll have to think more about the pearls-before-swine-thing, but here’s my big disagreement with you:

      You say a peacefully coexistent society does not and cannot exist because civil policy must be predicated on someone’s worldview. But here’s the deal. We can have pluralism within the constraints of the US Constitution because the Constitution was predicated on a biblical worldview. Therefore it severely limits governmental power. Therefore so long as public policy is in accord with the Constitution, we can have a peacefully coexistent society.

      I will admit that this will only work if American citizens are willing to unite around the American Constitution. But this seems a more reasonable expectation than any other solution I’ve heard.

      In my next blog post I will solve world hunger…

      • “We can have pluralism within the constraints of the US Constitution because the Constitution was predicated on a biblical worldview.”

        That’s absolutely correct, Scott. But while the Founders wanted people to be free in their ideas, they certainly were not suggesting that American law operate under principles or values that didn’t reflect their Judeo-Christian world view. Today, however, the Left want don’t want to live under those values.

        And herein lies the real crux of the problem which has not been addressed. Thus far, your communication with the Left seems to be about peaceful coexistence with regard to our ideas or understanding of one another. But the real divide is not about ideological differences but rather, how ideology affects public policy. As I previously asked, whose world view will determine public policy? Exactly how are those who promote same-sex marriage and those who support traditional marriage supposed to ignore policy when one of them will be coerced by legislation that tramples their position on this issue (and the same goes for all the other polarizing issues dividing the Right and Left)?

        There will never be a peaceful coexistence until one side is willing to surrender influence over public policy and retreat into an ideological ghetto where they are free to hold their ideas but still be willing to live under the laws which reflect the other side’s world view (i.e., they won’t necessarily be free to put their ideas into practice or see them enshrined in law). How likely is that to happen? (I’m not talking about living peacefully with one’s neighbor who holds an opposing viewpoint. I’m talking about political behavior and pubic discourse.) Is there any amount of dialogue or discussion that will get either side to surrender in the manner described? It seems highly doubtful.

        I think the better course would be to look to the gospel as a better solution. If people were to genuinely come to Christ and adopt a Biblical world view, the rest would take care of itself. However, trying to get an unregenerate person to adopt or even tolerate Biblical values while they are in spiritual opposition to God is to place the cart before the horse. It is, in most instances, casting one’s pearls before swine.

        Finally, even while the act of sharing the gospel would be a better solution for individual, person-to-person discourse, the public battle still needs to be waged because there will always be those in opposition to God. Policy still needs to be made, and someone’s world view must influence it. The question (and the drum I will continue to beat) which everyone here must ask is ‘whose world view will determine how we are governed?’

        • Frank, you possess one of my favorite brains on the planet. THIS is EXACTLY the discussion EVERYONE on BOTH sides eventually needs to have. Instead we have hate-shaming and insults.

          I contend that constitutionally conservative principles maximize freedom for all sides, because conservative principles by definition promote the limited government, self-government, and thus fairness and freedom enshrined in the US Constitution.

          As for your cruxy question and your terribly relevant example:
          “whose world view will determine public policy? Exactly how are those who promote same-sex marriage and those who support traditional marriage supposed to ignore policy when one of them will be coerced by legislation that tramples their position on this issue.”

          Even this issue, which I believe was wrongly (unconstitutionally/irrationally) rendered by the SCOTUS, would work even now, so long as all Americans recognize the constitutional 1st amendment rights of those who do not wish to participate in this poorly rendered decision. Unfortunately, the left is ideologically committed to enforcing its worldview onto the citizenry, and is intent on refusing to allow dissent. This exemplifies the problem.

          (The is not mere opinion, it is an observation. The ACLU is now saying the Religious Freedom Restoration Act should be repealed. The rank and file left now widely believe that “religious freedom” is simply being used as an excuse to allow “hatred, bigotry, and discrimination.”)

          So even with a bad Court decision, we could have respectful coexistence of competing ideas. The left wouldn’t need to compromise its worldview. It would simply need to acknowledge the right of conscientious objection. The same is true for the abortion issue. The problem is that any attempt to correct the coercive nature of these overreaching, unconstitutionally rendered policies, will be seen by the left as “rolling back justice.” I don’t think this is a constitutionally defensible position.

          Finally, living with bad Court decisions and allowing dissent is a second best approach. It’s like living with chain smokers in an apartment building made of kindling, but making sure all the fire extinguishers are in working order. A better approach would be to follow the constitutional process in the first place. This would mean individual states would have more power, and that there wouldn’t necessarily be a uniform, federally imposed policy.

          I see this earlier comment of yours as key: “…a society must have shared values if it’s to survive (i.e., this is why we’re supposed to be a “melting pot” and not a hyphenated-America.)”
          Could we not work toward freedom within the constraints of the US Constitution as a shared value? Would this not allow people to hold to their own worldviews? I don’t understand why this isn’t good enough. We’re not trying to create a utopia here. At least conservatives aren’t.

          • Scott, I think you’re describing a Libertarian view (an option which has already been raised). Here’s the problem as I see it: while Libertarians (like conservatives) want limited government, I think they may be far, far too ‘hands off’, primarily because they tend to believe they are autonomous beings without any objective moral duties (i.e., many don’t recognize objective moral imperatives and consequently don’t believe government has any right to prohibit certain behaviors).

            Biblically, the proper role of government is to legislate against evil (by proscribing wicked behavior and assigning some penalty for violation of the law) and to carry out those penalties when the law is violated. The prevention and/or punishment of evil (both domestically and in respect to national defense) is the primary function of government (and I think we can agree that the O.T. civil and ceremonial/religious laws are not in effect here; we’re only discussing objective moral laws which are not constrained by any particular time, place, or people group). Everything else is mere convention; and I’m not suggesting that such convention is wrong as long people enter into such social compacts freely. If we want to vote and agree to pay taxes to have a public library or roads, that’s fine (though even the legitimacy of democracies may be in question, i.e., does the majority have a legitimate right to coerce the minority? Certainly “might” doesn’t necessarily make “right”).

            The problem of laws still has to be dealt with since civil legislation must reflect some world view. Now there are the philosophically naive who believe that a “secular” government is somehow neutral, but that’s simply false. A secular government must presuppose some philosophical world view which directs the course of its policies. Atheistic marxist regimes are secular, but that certainly doesn’t make them neutral in their outlook on life and the world.

            For the Christian, abortion (to pick a polarizing issue), is a not morally neutral practice which we can ignore and leave to individual choice. Either it’s evil or it’s not. If it’s not, then let’s all leave Planned Parenthood alone. If it is evil, however, then the state has a moral duty to prohibit it and punish those who violate the law. So again, whose world view gets to determine whether abortion (or any other number of divisive moral issues) is right or wrong? No matter what solution is applied, many will definitely not be happy about the outcome.

            Finally, the Founders have rightly stated that the Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. Freedom is not equivalent to anarchy. If people want to be free, they must exercise moral responsibility. So while I would love to see this nation rightly guided by the Constitution, it can only work if society recognizes their moral duties.

            • Incidentally, let me be clear that I don’t think we can legally prohibit every single kind of wickedness. That’s simply not feasible, else we’d all end up in prison.

              I’m not really sure how to choose which kind of evil behavior can be outlawed or even what the penalties should be for any particular violation of a law. To be fair, I think penalties should be equitable, so I definitely believe in capital punishment for things like murder (and while I think abortion is murder, I’m not sure how to deal with a violation of that were it illegal; I certainly wouldn’t want to execute a scared fifteen-year-old girl who was talked into an illegal abortion by her irresponsible boyfriend, though I would have less pity on the abortionist selling such illegal services). So these issues have to be given lengthy and serious consideration.

              I never suggested the solution would be easy…

  5. Stacia Roble says:

    I enjoyed your post and was intrigued by the feelings and responses of the group you tried to duly debate. Like you, I find it very odd that some on the left truly feel that “the other half” of the country is morally clueless and are frightened by the racism and bigotry of conservatives. I myself don’t understand how this can be so, and I wonder how a Christian can uphold the tenets of the Democratic party. I would surmise that most people on the left are either atheist or, if Christian, are of the liberal bent who read into the Bible what they want to be there to justify their lifestyle. I believe evil is running rampant in this modern world where everything seems to be morally relativistic. As a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church, I am deeply disturbed by the ongoing liberal faction that desires to change the Church’s position on same-sex marriage. This is a time to take serious stock of your beliefs and commit to a higher and nobler purpose. I know the founders of this country (which was essentially an experiment in human freedom) would be in deep despair if they knew what was becoming of the dream for mankind that they envisioned.

    I don’t know what the answer is. A committed Christian, I believe, has only one choice. Maybe the American system is fatally flawed, but the Word of God stands forever.

    • Thanks for commenting Stacia.
      I’m intrigued by your comment, ” Maybe the American system is fatally flawed…”
      I think the American system is as good as one can expect in a broken world, if only we would actually restore the American system. (See above discussion with Frank.)

  6. oldmom says:

    You did a great job of maintaining civility and achieving dialogue with some of the other participants. As I think I shared with you, I voted Libertarian because I also felt that voting for Trump meant tacitly accepting too many flaws that were deal-breakers for me (the bigotry and misogyny, what I judged as “fake” claims to Christianity for political purposes, since “by their works ye shall know them”, and his lack of any true conservative principles). I wasn’t entirely happy with slightly goofy Gary Johnson, but their position of having maximum liberty and restricting the government’s role in legislating morality was the least offensive exercise of my voting right that I could find. I know it was an awful choice, but I’m still struggling with what seems to be less critical support of Trump by many of my fundamentalist Christian friends. I hope that their support is tempered with a clear-eyed realization of the dangers he poses, and that they will help oppose what I expect to be his worst excesses (mainly in violating the Constitution out of ignorance and a desire for power).

    • I appreciate your comments. Voting Libertarian was my plan B, until I actually looked at Gary Johnson and saw that he didn’t seem to support the concept of religious liberty – a deal breaker for me. In other words, the Libertarian candidate wasn’t a Libertarian, adding to the overall weirdness of the 2016 election.

      In the interest of finding common ground with you, if Trump actually does end up doing something dangerous or crazy, I will stand with you in opposing him. But I have wait for this to actually happen first.

  7. peshatbooks says:

    Not being an American, I did not vote, but had I been able to, I would have voted for Trump. Yes, I understand all that is said against him: some is true, some is exaggerated, and I am far from convinced that he will be a good President. My reasons for preferring Trump to Hillary Clinton is firstly, that I am convinced that Clinton is dishonest and corrupt. A vote for Clinton would confirm in her mind that she could continue as before without being held accountable. A good thing about Trump being President is that he is being held accountable, even if the opposition is over the top. Secondly, at age 72, I have watched the leftist Progressives gradually influencing politics across the world, in a manner which I believe is not for the good of mankind. I cannot ignore the lack of character being evidenced on college campuses, and in the bureaucrats of academia. I cannot ignore how power and influence over the development of children is being taken out of the hands of parents, and given to the State. In Germany, Russia, China, North Korea, and other societies, we have seen what happens when those who consider themselves the intellectual elite are given control over our children, starting from progressively younger ages. Parents are abandoning their children’s character and personality development, and wonder why the family unit is disintegrating. I briefly observe the lewd and disgusting behaviour of participants in the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, and wonder why this group is allowed to behave that way, when none other would be allowed. I watch the continual disintegration of morality in Western society, and wonder at the social forces that are behind this. To my mind it is clear, leftist liberal progressive policies are the cause, and for this reason, I would vote for change. Trump may not be the most desirable change agent, but he was the only one available, and that had to do. There is no point in those aligned with the Democrats whining over what has happened, for they have brought it upon themselves. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

    • I agree with many of your concerns and have also noticed that it is happening on a global scale. That’s one of the frustrations about having an unqualified and vision-less person heading a highly influential “free” nation such as ours. But I assume it will continue to decline, and that is part of the reason that I think that pluralism and freedom under our constitution is the best we can hope for in this age.

      I wonder if, as a Hebrew scholar, you would have any insight on Frank Gau’s thoughts (above) on the “Pearl’s Before Swine” statement by Yeshua. For me, understanding the Hebrew context of biblical teaching sheds light on meaning.

      Thanks.

      • peshatbooks says:

        Before getting to your point regarding “pearls before swine”, let me offer my lack of surprise that a progressive PhD student and adjunct professor at a Presbyterian theological seminary, would choose to label all those who voted for Trump as immoral, because they did not consider Trump’s behaviour as a “deal breaker”. One could equally contend that all those who did not see Hillary Clinton’s behaviour as a “deal breaker” are even more immoral. Does the professor not remember how Hillary Clinton treated those women who accused her husband of impropriety? Is he not aware of the cash for favours of the Clinton Foundation? Does he not remember Hillary’s lie about being under fire in the Balkans, or how she tried to push the blame for the Benghazi disaster onto a Christian minister? Is not lying, as Secretary of State, about not knowing the security provisions of her office, a reflection of her morality? And is not presenting ONLY people of colour at the DNC, also a reflection of her morality? The professor outs himself with the term, “progressive”, if that is indeed how he views himself. Weighing the morality of the candidates, I preferred Trump because he would be held accountable, whereas Clinton would not be, as evidenced by the professor’s polemic.
        That said, I believe Frank Gau’s comment regarding “pearls before swine” to be on the right track. I have never encountered that particular terminology before in Jewish literature, and perhaps the translation suffered somewhat from Aramaic or Hebrew into Greek. However, the meaning is consistent with the wisdom of Proverbs 9:7-9. Incidentally, did you know that the transliteration of the Greek for “pearl” is “margaritas”? (Just remember next time you select your drink). The Jewish Sages always advised a conservative approach to the teaching of Torah, so that no student was taught beyond their capability to understand and learn. In a similar vein, there is no point in trying to teach someone who chooses to not learn, and might even resent your teaching.

  8. mike says:

    Scott, I’m sorry, but this is what it feels like:

    • Mike,

      Ha! That is funny.
      However, to fair to liberals/progressives I don’t think the metaphor fits. The girlfriend in the video has a problem with simple logic. In the liberal/conservative debate we are talking about differences in worldview. And differences in the role of government. The left is pretty much trying to tell everyone what kind of pizza they can have and into how many pieces it will be cut.

      So, given the assumptions in their worldview, progressives aren’t necessarily reasoning illogically. Conservatives simply disagree with the assumptions of liberals, (and vice versa,) and these assumptions ultimately all have to do with BELIEFS. That’s why the best we can hope for is pluralism and freedom under the constitution.

      Would you agree?

  9. Rod Lampard says:

    It’s a long blog post because it needs to be. Well done, mate. Trying to talk with the Left, when you’re constantly pushed to the Right and out of the way, isn’t an easy thing to do. The whole post reminded me of the importance of Daryl Davis’ new documentary called ‘Accidental Courtesy’ (it’s on NetFlix). I think, like me, you’ll find some solidarity and affirmation there. I also wrote a poem a few weeks back, reflecting similar themes called Belshazzar’s Last Feast:https://gratiaveritaslumen.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/belshazzars-last-feast-a-dirge-for-those-who-only-march-with-left-feet/

    • Thanks Rod, I’ll check out the Davis documentary. I appreciate the recommendation.
      ‘Love this from your piece:

      He fights off resistance with slander, smear and profanity.

      Yet, this arrogance which force feeds stagnating correctness,

      can’t keep mouths paralyzed,

      or hearts and minds chained to the worship of the idolized.

      For with human hand

      Opposite lampstand,

      The writing’s on the wall.

      • Rod Lampard says:

        Thanks, mate. I wrote a new one the other day, which is a little less cryptic called, Flail The Ravenchist. It also speaks against a culture of submission, silence and servitude.

  10. Reply to FrankGrauIllustrator, (No room to reply directly to your last post.)

    Again, I agree with much of what you’ve said. However, I don’t think I quite fit the Libertarian profile, mostly for the reasons you mention.

    I still think pluralism and freedom within the constraints of the US Constitution answers all of your concerns. (Although I guess I should add that I’m including the Declaration of Independence along with that, as it should remain in force as a key founding document.) I think these docs give us what we need to make good law, regardless of worldview, even around the issues you mention.

    For instance, gay marriage: The Supreme Court had no business redefining marriage for the nation since the Constitution is silent on the definition of marriage. Therefore the Court should have remained silent on it as well. It should’ve been up to the elected legislature to craft law around gay marriage. (In fact, they already had done so with DOMA, but the Court struck down parts of the law, and the president’s DOJ refused to enforce DOMA for ideological reasons.)

    Regarding abortion: Again, the Court pulled a right to abortion out of its butt, overstepping its constitutionally granted role. The right to life is the first inalienable right listed in the Dec of Independence. We know exactly when new human life begins. Furthermore, even given our present state of affairs with legal abortion on demand, there is no justification for forcing taxpayers to subsidize the abortion industry. There was no justification for Obama prohibiting states from defunding Planned Parenthood if their elected representatives chose to do so. If PP wants to be the nation’s primary abortion provider, let them do so surviving in a free market on their own. If they can’t do so, then that should tell us something.

    Regarding religions other than Christianity: despite accusations from the left, 1st Amendment religious liberty works for all of them as well, WITHIN the constraints of the entire Constitution. In other words, if a person’s religious beliefs inherently place them at odds with our country’s founding docs, then that person cannot be a citizen in good standing here, obviously. For example, if a person’s aim is to see US constitutional government replaced with sharia law. That would amount to an overthrow of US government.

    I may slightly disagree with you as to the role of our government. I would say, ( biblically speaking) it is to reward good and punish evil, which is close to what you said. Additionally, for our government, based on our founding docs, I would say it is to secure basic God-given rights for all citizens, and to protect them from oppression from both within and without. (Which fits well with the biblically stated role, I think.)

    Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts.

    • Scott, I agree with everything you wrote regarding ruling according to the Constitution (based on the principles enshrined by the Declaration), which would work in a perfect world where there are no activist judges who treat the Constitution like a rubber ruler.

      I only take issue with one point about your description of the role of government. Since we’re not under the O.T. theocracy, there’s really no way to draw an analogy between an omnibenevolent, omniscient God and a bureaucratic state comprised of fallible, sinful humans of finite knowledge and wisdom. Moreover, nowhere in the N.T. with regard to our relationship to the state or God’s purpose for government do we see that government is in the business of rewarding citizens (nor is it clear what is meant by “rewards”, i.e., what does a citizen have to do to earn such rewards and what comprises such rewards and who gets to construct this system of merit and rewards?)

      As for securing our rights, that’s a natural byproduct of proscribing and punishing evil, so it’s not ‘in addition to’ the role of government I described. For example, proscribing and punishing murder is equivalent to securing our right to life. Proscribing and punishing theft is equivalent to securing our right to private property. Of course, there may be non-moral legislation that we can agree on as a matter of convention, but such conventions are not inalienable “rights”; so at best we might say that proscribing and punishing lying is equivalent to the state securing our right to expect the honoring of a contractual agreement. Hopefully, I’m making some sense.

      • Frank, I don’t think we’re that far off. I’m using the word “reward” pretty broadly. I’m not advocating government officials coming to my door with a box of candy whenever I mow my lawn. As for a NT basis, here’s what I had in mind:

        “…For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good…” (Ro 13:3,4)

        Corresponding with this, Paul in Galatians lists the fruits of the Spirit and says, “against these things there is no law.” But I’m not quite saying that mere absence of punishment is a reward.

        A favorite example of government rewarding good behavior is tax benefits for married couples. I think it makes sense for the government to incentivize/reward marriage. It is in the government’s interest to do this. Heterosexual, monogamous, lifelong marriage benefits society in a way that no other kind of relationship does. If unmarried people multiply like rabbits and don’t take responsibility for their offspring, then the gov will have to step in and do so. This would come at an enormous cost to society, both economically and socially.

        Other examples are charitable giving, or tax exemptions for churches. Charitable givers and churches perform functions that the government would otherwise have to perform, and they generally do it more efficiently than government.

        As for securing basic rights. I think it is “in addition to” the role of gov you described, and not only a byproduct of punishing evil. Our Declaration states that our Creator has endowed us with inalienable rights, and we have a Bill of Rights. It is the role of the courts to arbitrate between 2 parties when a violation of those rights are in question. The Hobby Lobby case is a great recent example. The point wasn’t so much to punish the Obama administration for being evil as it was to authoritatively clarify that the administration was wrong, thus securing HL’s 1st amendment rights.
        If that’s what you mean by “proscribing” then I agree with you.

        Having said all of this, I want to add that I think government is a horribly inadequate instrument for improving the human condition. This is why I’m not a liberal. (Or a communist. Or a socialist. Or a fascist. Or a Nazi.) I like Jesus’s solution infinitely better – voluntary spiritual rebirth.

        • Scott: Regarding a broad use of “reward” (such as giving married couples preferred tax treatment to provide an incentive for people to marry and take responsibility for their children), that may not represent an example of a reward for good behavior so much as a lack of tax-relief represents a punishment or disincentive to those who choose to engage in bad, irresponsible behavior (like promiscuity and abandoning their parental duties). So again, I think this represents the proper role of government as a wielder of the sword (figuratively) to prevent and punish wickedness.

          I realize that, to many, what I describe may seem like semantics because the outcome is the same. I think making such distinctions is important because of consequences arising from a flawed perspective. For example, how often do we choose “the lesser of two evils” (even I erroneously used this locution when defended voting for Trump)? The problem with suggesting that we have a moral duty to choose the lesser of two evils is that we would, in fact, be affirming that we have a moral duty to choose evil (lesser or not), which is self-contradicting. One cannot have a moral duty to choose the immoral. It’s more precise to say that one has a duty to choose the greater good. Yes, the outcomes are the same and those not interested in the hair-splitting antics of philosophy may see the distinction as meaningless, but it’s not at all meaningless. All of this to repeat that the example given (regarding tax-relief for some and not for others) may be viewed as a penalty or disincentive for bad behavior, which corresponds to a Biblical role of the state. (Of course, were the government not imposing confiscatory tax schemes in the first place, no such tax-relief would be necessary. However, given a bloated government and our decayed culture which no longer stigmatizes divorce or the having of children out of wedlock, a tax-relief policy such as this makes pragmatic sense.)

          The example of tax-relief for charitable giving is also not a reward from the state — though it certainly has the benefits that you mentioned, but those benefits are a byproduct of properly functioning charitable behavior, i.e., God intended us to privately take care of one another, not to look to government as our nanny. In any case, the 1st Amendment prohibits the state from passing laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion, so tax-relief is provided because an absence of it might otherwise present an oppression to one’s religious duties concerning charitable giving were it not economically feasible. I suspect tax-relief for religious charities simply carried over into other charities which brings us to our present day situation. But again, I don’t think such tax-relief was meant as a reward of the state so much as it was interpreted to be necessitated by the 1st Amendment (and if it represents a reward at all, it’s a reward from God for doing things the way He intended).

          Regarding the securing of our rights as an added function of government, I don’t think the Hobby Lobby case provides such an example. The case was essentially the government ruling against its own laws. But if the government were limited to performing its proper role (which does not include forcing private companies to provide abortion or birth-control to its employees), such adjudication would never have been necessary in the first place.

          As for the courts generally adjudicating cases to secure our rights, that again simply represents a prohibiting or punishing of alleged evil, misconduct, or some impropriety leading to the filing of any particular case. After all, why would a person be taken to court if an impropriety of some were not alleged? It’s the accusers contention that some injustice has occurred, which is why it appeals to the state to penalize the defendant in some way (regardless of what form any penalty may take). So again, I think the securing of rights is merely a byproduct of preventing and punishing evil.

          Now, I must concede that there is not a single government on earth that fulfills its Biblical role without usurping power to which it has no legitimate authority. Given this present reality, I think the policies (e.g., tax incentives and the like) which you mentioned make good pragmatic sense to alleviate the negative consequences of such government overreach. In other words, we have to make the best of the system under which we find ourselves. A good place to start is by asking, on what world view will we predicate our public policies and how do we work toward that goal, preferably without a civil war? I suspect a peaceful implementation would require that we change the hearts and minds of the citizenry first.

  11. Henry J. F. says:

    Scott,
    Your blogging is exceptional. Almost everything I read from you I never read anywhere else. I appreciate it. Along with the Insta screenshot, these words were also extremely helpful. “I don’t have a problem with the moral superiority of the left. I would hope that we all live according to a morality that we consider to be the most sound. What I have a serious problem with is using the irresistible force of government to force an ideology onto an unwilling population, and refusing to allow conscientious objection. It hasn’t worked, obviously. Apparently close to half of American voters, if forced to choose, would choose an unqualified asshole over a skilled totalitarian politician.”

    • Henry J. F. says:

      To elaborate: After considering those two statements, I understood both sides of an argument more clearly. I also understood my own position better. So, thanks again!

  12. wrightak2014 says:

    You are AMAZING. Thank you so much for this.
    Please, please, please keep these coming!!! Your blogs are most appreciated.

    My main problem is this, I don’t know what our next step is to bridge the gap? How do I get just the people I love to open their minds enough just to be civil to each other again? Do we give up and watch our country fall into chaos? (Yes, I am praying) If you come up with any good ideas, I hope you will share them because I am listening!

    Alecia

    • wrightak2014 – Thank you so much for the kind words! And that’s a great question.

      I think whatever the answer is, for followers of Jesus it will have to include love, humility, and wisdom. We do have one interesting truism in our favor that gives me hope: “Progressives” generally see themselves as educated, open-minded, reasonable, enlightened, and compassionate people. (Whereas conservative Christians are backward, uneducated, bigoted, unenlightened cavemen.) The beauty of this is that “progressives” therefore almost have to be open to reasonable discussion, or else they violate their own values. This dynamic came into play when I joined the Safe Persons group described in my blog post above – some liberals didn’t “feel safe” with me even being in the group. Others (some reluctantly) gave me a chance to be heard, presumably because they value openness, and so we had an honest discussion.

      In my opinion, what it will NOT include is “doing it back to them,” steamrolling over and attempting to marginalize people who disagree with us politically.

      I also think it is critical, as parents, spouses, friends, neighbors, and “discussors”, to admit when we are wrong about whatever. This is remarkably difficult to do, and very rare, even in a friendly environment. But if we commit to doing this, it will cause us to communicate more humbly because we’ll know we must be prepared to admit an error. It’s almost impossible to admit an error when one has been conducting oneself as a pompous know-it-all.

      Finally, you may have seen it already, but I put up a blog post in January that comes closest to answering your question, at least in my mind:
      https://artandlifenotes.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/president-trump-the-worst-thing-that-could-happen-now/

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  13. Daniel Klein says:

    You are amazingly brave and determined. I attempted the same kind of dialog on my Facebook page. It ended up with me almost nuking my page. I brought the same arguments as you and reading your posts, I thought I could have written them. I heartened to see that you continue to hold forth in the truth, Scott. I have given up on my friends and family in terms of discussing my views and the view of my President that I have held since he first was nominated.

    While out for a walk today, I encountered a homeless older Black woman trying to get her possession-laden shopping cart across a boulevard intersection. I went out of my way to push it across and to where she could manage on her own – I do this often whenever I can. We exchanged God’s Blessings and I went on my way. I played an exchange with an imaginary motorist who might commend me for helping here by stating, “And I’m a Trump Supporter!” But no one offered. Sigh,

    Best to you!

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