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In Light of Our Divisions, Should America Get Divorced?


Peter goes home for Christmas, where his mother plans to set him up on a blind date with her spin instructor. However, her instructor’s name is James. This is just one plot twist in Netflix’s first gay Christmas movieSingle All the Way.

In other news, esteemed Princeton scholar Robert P. George has published an article in First Things titled, “Roe Will Go.” It begins: “Let me offer a prediction, freed of any face-saving hedge: Next year, the Supreme Court will hold that there is no constitutional right to elective abortions.” The rest of his brilliant essay lays out four reasons why he makes his prediction, one I and millions of Americans pray comes to pass.

A third article caught my eye as well: Gallup reports that “Americans’ Trust in Media Dips to Second Lowest on Record.” The article states that our “trust in the media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly has edged down four percentage points since last year to 36 percent.” This is only four points above the 32 percent record low in 2016 amid the divisive presidential campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Here’s what especially struck me: 68 percent of Democrats trust the media, while 89 percent of Republicans do not.

Should America get a divorce? How would we?

In a culture with such deep divisions over sexual morality, abortion, and political partisanship, we should not be surprised that many people are wondering if America should get “divorced.” One article states, “Let’s consider a national ‘divorce’ so Americans can stay friends” and “It’s time for the United States to divorce before things get dangerous.” Another headline states, “America’s divorce: Left and Right each get half the country” with the subtitle, “A map of the coming divorce between Left and Right America.”

Responding to this growing trend, conservative columnist and radio host Erick-Woods Erickson offers several reasons why such a “divorce” is impractical. Here is my paraphrase of his comments:

  • Some states such as New York are deeply blue in major cities but have deeply red populations elsewhere; who decides which side wins?
  • Presuming the coasts go blue, how would red states access ports by which to import goods?
  • The military is not monolithic; which side gets what defense resources?
  • Given the political animosity fueling such a “divorce,” by what political process trusted by both sides would the nation divide? If not a political process, what would work short of a civil war?

This week, we have discussed the chaos in Congressrancor toward the Supreme Courtanimosity against political leaders, and the threat posed by divisive and partisan media. It seems clear that we need hope that transcends human resources.

King David knew where to turn for the help he and his nation needed: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lᴏʀᴅ our God” (Psalm 20:7). How can we offer such hope to our broken culture? How can Christians be part of the solution rather than the problem?

Let’s focus on three priorities:

1. Humility

Shortly after David ascended to the throne, he pledged, “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” (Psalm 101:2–3). He added: “No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house” (v. 7).

Tragically, he broke both promises when he looked upon Bathsheba while she bathed, committed adultery with her, then lied about the affair and even arranged the death of her husband to cover it up (2 Samuel 11).

If David could fall so tragically, so can you and I. If we would be the change we wish to see, we must pray daily for the Holy Spirit to empower us and lead us (Ephesians 5:18). And we should approach other sinners with the humility that admits, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

2. Discernment

History has never been objective and cannot be. While we are justifiably frustrated by the partisan and ideological agendas driving much of today’s media, it is impossible to report the news with complete objectivity. Even if I see the event which I am describing, I cannot know entirely the motives at work. Nor can I experience much less describe the event with inerrant precision. Unless you experienced the event, you are relying on second-hand reports of it.

In addition, the decision on what to report and what to ignore is subjective. I doubt the local or national media will report that I wrote today’s Daily Article, but if someone broke into my office and shot me while I was writing it, that might be deemed newsworthy.

Thus we need to pray daily for discernment, joining Solomon in his prayer: “Give your servant an understanding mind . . . that I may discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9). And we need to practice this skill, joining “those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

Then bring this commitment to the news and media you consume, attending not only to sources with whom you agree but also to those with whom you do not. And interpret everything you experience through the prism of Scripture, remembering that God’s truth is the only source of absolute truth in our world.

3. Engagement

I understand the temptation to withdraw from culture in the belief that we can’t change the way things are and will only become discouraged by trying. But nothing in our broken culture changes Jesus’ commission to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13–16). Both must contact that which they are intended to influence. So must we.

Never underestimate the capacity of one person to change the world or the power of a passionate movement to transform society, so long as that person and movement are fueled by God’s Holy Spirit. This Daily Article is going to more than 335,000 subscribers. Imagine the impact if each of us would speak and model Christian truth where we have influence today.

When I become discouraged about my ability to make a difference, I remember William Wilberforce. You know his story: elected a Member of Parliament at the age of twenty-one, he experienced a transforming spiritual conversion four years later. He came to regret his past life and resolved to commit himself to the service of God.

Questioning whether he should remain in politics, he sought the counsel of John Newton (the author of “Amazing Grace”), who encouraged him to remain in public service and use his influence for God’s glory and the common good. The result was England’s abolition of slavery, a movement Wilberforce led until his death.

Author Jim Rohn noted, “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”

So does your world.

How will you change your culture today?

Image credit: ©Getty Images / grinvalds

Jim Denison, PhD, is a cultural theologian and the founder and CEO of Denison Ministries. Denison Ministries includes DenisonForum.org, First15.org, ChristianParenting.org, and FoundationsWithJanet.org. Jim speaks biblically into significant cultural issues at Denison Forum. He is the chief author of The Daily Article and has written more than 30 books, including The Coming Tsunamithe Biblical Insight to Tough Questions series, and The Fifth Great Awakening.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

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