Saturday, April 17, 2010

On unity and division

How sneaky is Satan? So sneaky that he can sow division among Christians simply be appealing to unity! Now that's clever, although it helps if you have the right material to work with - material like George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

Wood signed this little thing called a Covenant for Civility, in which he pledged:

that when we disagree, we will do so respectfully, without falsely impugning the other’s motives, attacking the other’s character, or questioning the other’s faith, and recognizing in humility that in our limited, human opinions, “we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We will therefore “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

4) We will ever be mindful of the language we use in expressing our disagreements, being neither arrogant nor boastful in our beliefs: “Before destruction one’s heart is haughty, but humility goes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).

Note that this isn't a promise to agree with anyone, or even to respect their point of view. Deeply-felt disagreement is the entire premise of the document; the signer merely promises not to be an asshole about it.

Apparently, Wood knows his own mind less well than, say, Draco Malfoy. He seems to have imagined that only his type of Christian would be signing this, and only belatedly realized he had been tricked into embracing a world larger than his imagination:

"The problem is the tent that has grown so large on the signatures of this that are including people who are supportive of gay marriage and abortion rights," spokeswoman Juleen Turnage said in an interview Tuesday. "He just felt that he could not become a part of a large tent."

I wonder which part of the pledge Wood no longer feels he could uphold: is it impossible to criticize gay marriage without falsely impugning the other’s motives, or does he feel an absolute necessity of attacking the other’s character?* For whatever reason, "I will not be an asshole" seems to be a pledge he is unwilling to keep.

* Yes, I'm aware that I'm also attacking Wood's character. But refusing even to be civil to those you disagree with? I can't help seeing that as a character flaw.

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