Thursday, June 16, 2016

Satan, Getting Us All To Hate Each Other

Admittedly, I enjoy a good debate. I enjoy getting into the mix and being engaged in the exchange of ideas. In these days after the murder of 49 human beings in Orlando, the temptation to jump into the fray of public debate has been tremendous. There has been an endless supply of articles, editorials, memes, and videos that are like bait luring me to take a bite. But, unusually for me, something has held me back.

As much as I'd like to engage in debate, this time around the whole thing feels slimy and disgusting. Basically, this time around the debate has revealed a seething hatred that exists, not only among terrorists, but among politicians, editorial boards, pundits, activists, and social media users. Almost from the moment of the first news reports about this horrific act of violence, Americans turned on one another and began to devour each other. Even where there is no hatred, people are trying to create it. I'd love to call out some examples of that, refute some of their arguments, and share opposing articles.  I really would. But, something is different for me this time.

What's different this time is that truth no longer matters to anyone. What matters is antagonizing those who disagree with you. What matters is dividing people, punishing those who disagree with you, and demonizing them. After September 11th, the big mantra was that "we can't allow the terrorists to change our way of life." I don't know if it is the terrorists who have changed our way of life or maybe social media or maybe a thousand other things. But our way of life has changed. 49 people died this past week and instead of pulling together, we have torn apart. There seems to be no end game except to divide people and demonize people. Sorry to sound cynical, but it doesn't sound like people engaged in the conversation are really all that concerned about the people who have died and their families. Instead, people on all sides of the spectrum see the deaths of these human beings as a good way to attack those with whom they disagree. It's really disgusting.

I'd love to engage in the exchange of ideas right now, but it seems like doing so in the current climate would only be to play into the hands of those who seek to permanently change our way of life. I'd like to contribute something to the conversation, but I realize that whatever that contribution will be, it has to be something other than standing on one side and yelling at the other and demonizing the other. 

Christians are called to introduce something new into the world. Right now, everything I see, hear, and read is not new. It's old. The whole conversation--on all sides--has the whiff of the boiling, sulfuric hatred of Satan. I hope that at some point, I have something new to offer. But for the time being, I'd at least like to remain free from being a dupe to man's greatest enemy--the prince of darkness, the sower of lies, and the hater of God and man. There is something grotesque and sinister taking place in the world right now. Perhaps the first stage in defeating this evil is not allowing ourselves to fight on its territory. 

The great lie right now is that our true enemy is each other. And we all seem intent on devouring one another in order to win.  But, St. Paul reminds us in the Book of Ephesians that something far more serious is at stake:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.  As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.  With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

The whole world of media and politics is acting as though the war we are fighting is a ground war between flesh and blood. For those of us who are Christians, to enter into that war is a fool's errand. We are engaged in a battle against spiritual forces of evil. Well, we are either engaged in a battle against these forces or we are ridiculous fools fighting for these for forces. It's time for Christians to take off the armor of their political parties and put on the armor of God.

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