You know how God keeps banging on a theme until you finally respond to the knock on the door and let the idea in? This was one of those weekends. We spent it with family, and over the course of three days, I had several really good, thought-provoking conversations about politics, polarization, and the human propensity to classify others as “us vs. them,” and belittle, deride, and otherwise dismiss those who don’t drink our particular brand of Kool-aid.
I return to blogging this morning, joining Ann in talking about how to serve “the least of these.” But after these conversations, it occurs to me: how can we talk about serving “the least of these” when we can’t even stop ourselves from tearing down the people we encounter every day?
They’re referred to as the Mommy wars. Breast vs. bottle. Cloth vs. disposable. Homeschool vs. private school vs. public school. Two kids versus five. Work vs. SAH.
People are really un-Christian about these issues. I’ve been guilty of it, too, despite my best attempts to hold the middle ground. We pass judgment, we generalize, we make assumptions about people’s motivations and choices, without knowing their hearts, without knowing their reasons—and often, without knowing all the facts. My sister-in-law, who works full-time, regularly protests being denigrated as something less than a “real” mother. Protests the assumption that she’s one of those blasted contraceptors, simply because she works. “Honestly,” she said, “I don’t feel like I have a home in the Catholic Church.”
People, she’s right. We’ve got to stop this. And it’s not just the Catholic Church, either. This applies across the board of Christianity.
A man named Tom Strunck, whom I interviewed for an article last spring, made a comment that seems even more important now than it did at the time. He said, “What do we have to follow? The moral law and the laws of the Church. And if you look where those two stop, and everything else starts, God has given us enormous amounts of freedom—a lot of this stuff is personal preference, and a lot of people turn that into absolutes.”
Those artificial absolutes become our own personal idols, if we’re not careful. We’ve got to open our minds and hearts, and approach people with charity—especially on the internet, where it’s all too easy to type in a diatribe and hit “send” because you know you’ll never see the person face to face. If we don’t do this, then all works of charity are really in vain. Charity begins at home.