By David Hegg
Often, when I forget an appointment or where I put my glasses, I utter, “Of all the things I’ve lost I miss my mind the most.” But in this continuing day-and-nightmare of COVID I’ve found myself thinking, “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss normalcy the most.” Right?
What we all struggle with is the disruption of the normal rhythms of life, the ebb and flow of our hours, our days, and our seasonal plans and hopes. And lurking beneath it all is the fear that we are drowning in the waves of prickly knowns and fearful unknowns. We need something solid, something unassailably normal to hold on to.
Americans have always found hope and security in two principle institutions. We’ve tethered our lives to God and country, to a theology of a transcendent, powerful and redemption-offering God, and the glorious, freedom-based experiment called democracy. And since the past few years have seen the intentional erosion of both by those who would play god and use government for personal gain, it is clearly time for a reset.
This isn’t a religion column so if you want to hear about the God of the Bible, and his plan for human rescue, reformation and redemption, come hear me preach or enroll in one of my theology classes.
This is an ethics column, so let’s think about the opportunity we have to retreat back into the normalcy of the life-giving ethic of honor while we still can. I’m talking about the event that took place Jan. 20 when, once again, a duly elected president was honorably sworn in, and inaugurated. While we watched a new man take office, we were also taking part in one of the most honored traditions in our country.
I believe there is a foundational normalcy to be grasped in honoring the traditions that undergird our political system. Yes, that means honoring those who hold elective positions even when we disagree with them. The genius of democracy is never found in the individuals who occupy governmental positions, for they will vary greatly as to their integrity, views and abilities. The genius of democracy lies in the implicit contract between those who govern and the governed who put them in positions of temporary power. That contract is a mutual promise of honor.
President Joe Biden deserves our honor as the one occupying the Oval Office. As such he deserves that we give him a fair hearing, and spend a fair amount of time considering what he does and says rather than listening only to his opponents. It also means praying for him that he would honor his office, serve his people, and walk humbly before Almighty God.
What is killing us today is not only a virus, but also a mind-set of disdain and hatred for anyone or anything that differs from our point of view. This has set off a firestorm known as the “cancel culture” that is not only dividing us, but also decimating the possibility of reasoned discourse that could lead to mutual understanding and corporate success.
Today, our differences have left us believing that, unless you agree with me, and are as intense in your agreement as I am, and as adamant in your hatred of those who disagree as I am, then not only are you not right, you are also dangerous and must be destroyed.
Can we see where this is leading? Can we understand the danger of allowing personal preferences to overwhelm love of neighbor?
As we close the book on one administration and open the pages yet to be written by President Biden, it is time we also follow the truth of another book that has been foundational in our history.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Rome about the way they were to view the Roman society and government, had this to say:
“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
I believe America is hurting, and much of the pain is self-inflicted. To be honorable people we must demonstrate honor for others, honor for those in positions of government, and most of all, honor for the God whose blessings are promised to those who turn from their wicked ways, do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before him.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.