The following is a parody of something published by Relevant Magazine.
Relevant, a purportedly Christian magazine, released an article attacking the partisan approach they see in many Christians (mainly conservatives).
The article is called Should Christians Participate In Partisan Politics? In it, Andrew Voigt, a “self-renowned root beer and coffee enthusiast,” argues that we should “reimagine a politics that is not binary, but rather adaptive and fluid.”
Vague though the article may be, we can still show why it is logically mistaken and perhaps intellectually dishonest. This is an easy task. Simply replace the idea of “political progressivism” (aka, the kleptocratic welfare state) with a word that ought to have about the same level of moral stigma.
I picked cannibalism.
I’m being a bit generous here. Cannibalism is not a hot button issue for most of our readers—not something that triggers anything in our immediate experience. I could have used other evils in its place: Murder, Man-Stealing/Slavery, Racism, Child Abuse, and other horrible topics. Since this is a piece of satire, I chose something more silly than serious. I wouldn’t want anything to be taken out of context. Let the satire begin.
Should Christians Participate In Cannibalism?
Cannibalism is such a divisive topic and I’m not here to stir up strife, but it is time for followers of Jesus to examine our loyalties to cultural traditions and our addiction to tribalism. As a follower of Jesus, I’ve been thinking a lot about our modern approach to cannibalism in the US, particularly when it comes to the polarized folks who say it’s a black and white topic. It’s arguable that we live at a time when more people see this as a black and white issue than at any time in the history of the country, which is quite evident in our current dialogue whenever I bring up the topic. Everyone seems to have an extreme viewpoint on cannibalism, even when there’s no real reason to be extreme. It’s in our human nature to desire belonging, which has led to an infatuation with being “right.”
I grew up conservative and attended a Christian college. When I moved to Los Angeles, I became friends with some super-progressive Christians, and this was definitely an ideological adjustment for me. Yet, the more conversations we had over coffee and meat pies, the more I realized that they had some valid reasons for their beliefs. In fact, I started adjusting my views on various social matters—like cannibalism—that I’d never given much thought.
As scary as discussions like this can appear, it’s incredible what can be learned if cannibalism is approached in humility and discernment. This may come as a shock, but just because your pastor or your mom and dad told you something doesn’t make it true. The Scriptures even address this line of thinking in Proverbs 18:17: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”
If we’re honest, much of the dialogue in the Church, particularly on social media, is very tribalistic and polarized. It’s becoming incredibly hard to re-examine our dietary taboos and desires without starting to feel defensive. We want to believe that we’re right, so much so that we’re willing to adjust the truth to fit our narrative. A middle ground approach to cannibalism is increasingly disappearing, while tribes of extremists are continuing to add to their numbers.
It baffles me when I see so many staunch conservatives who seem to have no qualms about their viewpoints on the treatment of chicken nuggets, or brisket, but won’t even give cannibalism a second chance. Look: I’m pro-food, just like you are. I just want the freedom to be myself and experiment. That’s not a conservative or a liberal thing, regardless of what the talking heads in Washington say. Yet, we’ve sipped the Kool-Aid and bought the lie that we must sell our souls to black and white thinking.
To be fair, it’s not just the conservative Christians who are increasingly tribal in their stance on cannibalism. There is a consistent movement among my super-progressive pro-cannibalism friends to say this is the only political issue that really matters. Just like their conservative counterparts, they are buying into the “either-or” narrative that has intoxicated the Church. Why must we sacrifice some of our convictions when we could reimagine what it means to be politically engaged as a Christian?
The word “moderate cannibal” makes a lot of people cringe, because it’s hard to define the beliefs of that individual. We like convenient boxes in which to place everyone. That way, we can know who’s on our side and who’s with “those other people.” The idea that we could be anything other than a 100% cannibal or a 100% non-cannibal absolutely terrifies us. We love our false identities that we attach to flawed human ideologies, so much so that we’ve made plenty of enemies in the process.
If we’re honest, we’re all so busy defending our camp that we often overlook the convictions of following Jesus. We can’t just enjoy chicken fingers, but also reject human fingers. That is morally inconsistent! If we’re voting by conscience rather than political partisanship, then we’re going to find ourselves in this weird place called “the middle.” We won’t belong. We know that and it terrifies us to the point of sacrificing our convictions for a sense of belonging.
A New York News article written by H. Lecter and T. Bundy examined identity politics surrounding this important issue and brought to light some disturbing realities. One piece of the article caught my attention when they said, “We’ve always had conviction identities in America. But those partisan identities have come into stronger alignment with ideology and social identities. That’s troubling, political scientists warn, for our ability to compromise. It means that cannibals and anti-cannibals don’t just support different policies today. They’ve also been sorting into two camps that are more and more socially homogeneous and more distinct from one another.”
What’s even more disturbing is the political partisanship and tribalism amongst followers of Jesus who claim an eternal Kingdom, yet who divide over earthly snacks. Our talk and our actions simply don’t line up. We cannot serve both Caesar and Jesus in tribal adherence without having our identities split in two.
To be without a clearly defined position on cannibalism may be terrifying to many Americans, but if we are truly going to pursue the heart of Christ in our world, we must begin examining all policy (not just the ones our party endorses) and voting by conscience, not political party. In a Divided States of America, the Church can be a great example of what it looks like to find common ground and reimagine an approach to cannibalism that is not binary, but rather adaptive and fluid.
Imagine that: Christians influencing the world we live in. Such a radical idea, but one that is desperately needed in such a binary state of human ethics.
The above piece of satire makes the same kind of argument as was found in Andrew Voigt’s piece at Relevant. The point in telling this story is two-fold.
First: Notice how ridiculous the vague rhetoric becomes when applied to a specific idea that we already know how to morally judge. Second: Ask yourself, why don’t people already know how to make moral judgments about things on which the Bible speaks as clear as day?
“Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15).
“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly” (Leviticus 19:15).
Could it really be that the writers at Relevant are so biblically illiterate and intellectually confused as to not know that one political party has a platform that is entirely unacceptable for Christians, while the other party’s platform is decent from the Christian perspective?
Are they that dense? Maybe. Or their allegiance to Scripture is not what they would have us believe. Either way, the fruit here is very plain.