Two weeks ago, two prominent evangelical supporters of President Donald Trump, Eric Metaxas and Franklin Graham, had a discussion about the election, the current political situation and opposition to the president.
"It's a very bizarre situation to be living in a country where some people seem to exist to undermine the president of the United States. It's just a bizarre time for most Americans," said author and radio show host Eric Metaxas.
"Well, I believe it's almost a demonic power that is trying," Graham began before being interrupted by Metaxas who replied, "I would disagree. It's not almost demonic. You know and I know, at the heart, it's a spiritual battle." They then pivoted immediately into the economy as evidence of how good people have it.
The mainstream media rushed to characterize Graham as suggesting all opposition to the president is demonic. It is naturally understandable, given the conversation, that they would go there. But then that raises the question of all the opposition to Barack Obama when he was president. Romans 13:1-2 reads: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."
Both Obama and Trump were put into the presidency as part of God's master plan. If you are a Christian, you cannot deny this. Certainly, scripture is clear that man's law does not trump God's law. Refusing to pay for abortions despite a government mandate is scriptural. Praying for the president and paying taxes, even if you oppose where the money is going, is also scriptural.
The problem with the conversation, as with so many conversations these days, is that too many want to characterize their political opponents as enemies, not just opponents. I would agree that something wicked is stirring right now. Scripture is clear there are things unseen, both good and bad. We should be perturbed at the rise of mass shootings, the renewed aggressiveness of abortion rights advocates, the censorious demands of LGBT activists and more. We should also be perturbed at the number of Christians who think they need a strong man in the White House to protect them when they claim to worship the God of the universe.
Americans across the political spectrum need an abundance of grace more than ever right now. We -- and I use "we" intentionally -- are all so quick to presume bad motives these days. We are all so quick to presume someone is bad because they have a different worldview or ideology. Our society cannot continue on if we are not willing to live and let live. Our founders embraced the idea of federalism because they knew a new nation as diverse as ours should be allowed communities of common interest.
Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court and activists across the country have long worked to exterminate communities of interest. The values of urban, progressive areas are increasingly legally required to be the values of socially conservative areas. A decade ago, progressive activists asked, "How will my gay marriage affect you?" The answer, a decade later, is that my business may be shut down if I do not provide you goods and services. My children will be ostracized if they do not run from their parents' faith.
Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant and then it seeks to silence good. The only cure for the rise of intolerances and censoriousness is grace. We must be willing to understand that those who fundamentally disagree with us simply have a different understanding of the world. We must work to find common ground where we can and show grace where we cannot. We must be willing to let others live their lives in ways fundamentally different from our own and not feel compelled to have them conform. If we, as a nation, are to survive as one people, we must be willing to be friends in disagreement.