I was watching Fox News interview a congressman about a tragic shooting in Alexandria, Virginia. (A gunman opened fire on about twenty-tw0 congressmen having baseball practice for a charity game to be played the next day.) In the interview, the congressman said something, a few times, that prompted me to write this article: "Somehow we all just need to come together." It seems that in his mind the answer to this kind of violence is for us Americans to just come together as a nation. I wonder if this would have been his appeal to the shooter prior to opening fire: "Please don't do this. Let's come together as Americans and find another way." As I listened to him, I sat there thinking about that possibility. Can we Americans all really come together?
Can we come together when we are divided, not by merely differing approaches, but irreconcilable, opposing ideologies? Socialism and capitalism are not reconcilable. Promotion of the killing of babies is not reconcilable with protection of babies. True bigotry (based on racial/ethnic identity, not behavior) is not reconcilable with true beneficence toward all people groups. Contradicting codes of morality and ethics are not reconcilable. Strict constitutionalism is not reconcilable with non-constitutionalism (held by Americans that think the U.S. Constitution is outdated and should be scrapped). Americans in name only are not reconcilable with Americans at heart - to put it another way, anti-America/unpatriotic Americans are not reconcilable with pro-America/patriotic Americans.
Can we all come together when some of us are set on violence as a means to advance an agenda or satisfy a grievance? The violent, like that shooter, have abandoned reasonable discourse as a path to progress beyond our differences and divisions. For them, the time to talk and reason together is over. Therefore, they will not heed any call to come together. Like foreign terrorists, these domestic terrorists among us only want to bully us into submission, with whatever means they see necessary to break us, whether threats with words or weapons. That leaves only two options: arrest them for threatening to do harm, before they do harm; or incapacitate them, whether non-fatally or fatally, as they try to do harm.
For those of us not given over to violence or the degradation of other human beings, we can all come together to oppose violence and degradation as the means to our ends, regardless of our ideologies and worldviews. Wherever we disagree, we can at least agree to not kill each other, or beat down each other, or shout down each other. We can come together in the public square to fight our battles with open and intelligent debate and dialogue, rather than with insults, fists, blades, or bullets.
We Christians must remember, though, that beyond the cultural battle there is a spiritual battle. In that spiritual battle, there can be no ultimate partnership between righteousness and lawlessness nor fellowship between light and darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14). Therefore, we must always first work to lead people to Jesus, praying for the change of heart only the Holy Spirit can give in their new birth, as God brings them into and fills them with His light and righteousness. We must hold up the priority of eternal life over the present earthly life.
However, we should influence people with the practical righteousness of God on whatever level we can. For example, if we can speak to a girl about the humanity of her baby, even showing her an ultrasound if possible to prove it, so that she will come together with us to spare her baby's life, then we should do that, even if she will not come to Jesus. If we can influence our lawmakers and Supreme Court justices so that they will come together with us to overturn Roe v. Wade, then we should do that, even if they will not come to Jesus. We must pursue the righteousness of God on every front, to every degree we can, working together with people on whatever level we can under the common grace of God.
On the other hand, we must never compromise one aspect of the truth and righteousness of God in order to come together to promote another aspect of the truth and righteousness of God. For example, if someone who is pro-life and living in homosexuality wants our approval of her homosexual lifestyle in order to work with us against the abortion agenda, we cannot give that to her. We cannot come together and work together with her if that is her condition. Similarly, we cannot make social-issue alliances with those that do not hold to the Gospel, if those alliances require us or lead to us blurring the clear lines of the Gospel.
Can we Americans all really come together? We must be realistic and accept the reality that we cannot come together in every way when we have polarized views of what being American means and what America should be. But we can and should come together in any way we can to promote our common good, which certainly includes the denouncement of violence against each other, no matter how vehemently we disagree with each other. And we American Christians must always put our heavenly citizenship before our American citizenship, which requires us to accept a permanent point of separation between us and American non-Christians, even while we come together with them any way we rightfully can to pursue and promote the practical righteousness of God, in love for our neighbors (Mark 12:31). This requires much wisdom, so let us continually pray for God to grant it. And let us pray that He will pour out the refreshing waters of revival and His living water in spiritual awakening, to truly bring us together as one nation under God, indivisible, with justice for all.