In 1986, Antonin Scalia was nominated by President Ronald Reagan for the Supreme Court. He was approved unanimously by the Senate and celebrated as our nation’s first Italian-American justice.
That was then, this is now.
Minutes after the news broke last Saturday that Justice Scalia had died, political conflict began. Republican Party leaders called on President Obama not to nominate a replacement; Democratic Party leaders insisted that doing so is the president’s constitutional duty.
The evening of Justice Scalia’s death, the ninth Republican presidential debate was held. It was marred by name-calling and interruptions; observers called it the most bitter debate held so far. In the last primary, more than $30 million was spent on attack ads. According to a recent survey, one in three Democrats and nearly half of all Republicans now object to their children marrying someone belonging to the other party.
What is happening to us?
A friend with significant political expertise once described to me the three steps to getting elected today: (1) convince people they have an enemy; (2) convince them that they cannot defeat their enemy; (3) convince them that I will defeat their enemy if they vote for me.
In 1986, Americans had a common enemy in the Soviet Union. In today’s politics, our enemy is each other. What does God think of our political climate?
Scripture teaches that God’s servant “must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone . . . correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). In Jude 9 we read: “When the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.'”
If Michael would not revile Satan, who are we to condemn each other?
I believe Americans are hungry for principled leaders who reject divisiveness and work together to improve our nation. Even more, our people need to see Christians who manifest the character of Christ, speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) with courage and compassion. The more bitter our nation’s politics become, the more persuasive our witness will be.
Let’s end on a practical note. Rick Warren observed that “God teaches us to love by putting some unlovely people around us. It takes no character to love people who are lovely and loving to you.”
Is God teaching you to love today?