Today Canon and Culture carries my article on the need to “de-institutionalize enmity,” entitled “Love Is Our King.” Readers who have complained to me about the alleged naivete of this might want to have a look. I’m not naïve about evil; for ten years I’ve tangled with teacher unions – people who make their living by destroying children’s lives. For supporting school choice, I’ve been portrayed as a white supremacist who wants to bring back Jim Crow. Guess what? You have to love them anyway.
And one of the hardest parts about loving your enemies is maintaining the judgment of charity. You have to believe that they’re as good as the evidence allows you to believe they are. I appreciate Joe Carter drawing our attention to this, but let’s not fall into the trap of assuming that everyone who stands against us does so out of hate.
In the C&C article, among other things, I share a little more than I have in the past about the close friend who permanently cut me off after I became a Christian:
The point is that there was nothing about either me or her that forced us into this position. I have asked myself time and again whether I said or did something that could have come across like it was me rejecting her as a person, rather than me changing my mind about how people in general should live their lives (which was the kind of thing we’d always disagreed about before). But I honestly don’t think there was. Nor do I think she, on her end, lacked the emotional strength to stand up for herself in an honest way—as if my withdrawing approval for this aspect of her life was such a crushing blow that she had to tell herself I was a bigot to avoid facing it.
No, this happened because of deep structures in our culture. All day, every day, she had been immersed in a culture (especially in the subcultures to which she belonged) where it is simply assumed that there is no such thing as honest disagreement about this issue. There is only hatred, period. And on my part, I lacked the wisdom to anticipate this problem and take steps to preempt it.
If you’re out there, drop me a line and let’s talk about how we can not hate each other.
We can share this country.