You May Not Feel My Pain, but You Are Accountable

I am not aware of any language in this post that could be triggering to victims of trauma. If you find otherwise, then please use the contact form on this blog to let me know so I can adjust this warning.

I am still processing. I wasn’t going to say anything, because I am still working through exactly what there is to say, but I do believe there is at least this to say: You are accountable. 

I say this to anyone who solemnly intones, “the Lord works all things to his Glory,” “He is in control,” or “our Hope is in Heaven.” Yes, all those things are true. But one need not lock step with Falwell, Kennedy, and Criswell’s “moral majority,” nor take up the banners of the social gospel, to affirm that what we do in this world, especially concerning our neighbors, either proves or gives the lie to our confession. For Christ himself directly and unavoidably declared that what we do to our neighbor we also do to Him, and that the greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. And so politics, which simply is another word for making the disposition of our neighbor within our communities our business, matters as much as, and in my view more than the correct articulation of any bit of dogma.

I am the first to insist that reasonable people reasonably can come to different conclusions from the same evidence. I believe that the church is wonderfully diverse, having room for Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives. I am committed to saying nothing unkind or dismissive to my fellow Christian who disagrees with me in political matters, and when I have anger at them I own that it is my anger, for which I alone bear the responsibility. But to the one who says that the decision between Trump and Clinton was “merely,” or “just” political, and who unapologetically fails so spectacularly at empathy as to blithely declare that he does not feel our pain, I say this: You are accountable. 

I applaud you for making the best decision you knew how to make, and that you made it for the good of the country as best you could discern how. Also, I can’t make you feel things you don’t feel, and I doubt can convince you that you ought to feel them. But I won’t be gas lighted either. I hear you saying that this was an election like any other, that it was “just politics,” and that I should accept that I lost this one, just like someone else lost the last one, and someone will lose the next one, and so on. I’m going on 40 now, so I’ve been on both sides of that equation myself, many times. But for those of us whose pain you don’t feel, this one was different. 

I fervently pray that our worst fears about this upcoming administration don’t play out. I hope that this administration moves us forward in the business of living peacefully and quietly in humble service to our image bearing neighbors, regardless of the differences among us. I hope that it will go out of its way to defend the weak: the disabled, the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the silenced. I hope those things against all evidence. But even if my hope is fulfilled, still I say you are accountable. 

We can agree that comparing the rise of Trump to the rise of Hitler is irresponsible and specious, but what we absolutely must do is to take seriously these lessons from that earlier chapter of history: when a man says hateful things and threatens violence, we must take him at his word. Because the cost of dismissing or downplaying his threats and being wrong is that he carries them out. When he follows through with his threats we must lay down our life for those he persecutes. And when you come to regret your decision to add your amen to this man’s ascent to power, we must forgive you and embrace you. But even in this midst of our forgiveness, you are accountable.

For context, see "Sorry, I don't feel your pain."

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