Conflicted: Convictions, Conscience, And Culture

In writing this material for my column today has been both a challenge and a release for me due to the issues that I have had to consider and contend with within myself. I am certain that I am a representation of so many other people who are conflicted internally about certain cultural, political, and social issues that have beset our nation. I believe that we are conflicted within ourselves when we personally struggle about whether or not certain beliefs, ideas, practices, and even lifestyles are morally right or wrong. Many people who changed the course of history for the better or worse were conflicted about their decisions to do or not to do, to fight or not to fight, to vote for or to vote against, as was recently demonstrated by a few United States Senators in the case of now Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh. From a historical perspective, Martin Luther, the Father of the Protestant Reformation, was certainly conflicted before he finally came to the decision to post his famous “95 Theses” on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Going back some thousands of years before the birth of Protestantism and even the birth of Christ and His Church, the Patriarch Abraham, who was the Father of all three Monotheistic religions that exist upon the Earth (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), as well as the Father of the faithful (see Romans 4:12-18) was conflicted in his fatherly and human emotions. This is when God tested him by instructing him to take Isaac, his only son, and offer him up as an offering to Him on one of the mountains of Moriah (see Genesis 22:1-2). Another great historical figure in American history with the same name as the Patriarch Abraham was truly conflicted during the most challenging time in the history of this nation. President Lincoln grappled with the decision to sign and release the Presidential decree (Emancipation Proclamation) on January 1, 1863, that declared free all persons held as slaves within any state or part of a state then in armed rebellion. Can there be any doubt that President Harry Truman surely had to be conflicted within himself and wrestled with the thought of whether or not to drop atomic bombs on two cities in Japan that would literally and immediately decimate tens of thousands of people in hopes of forcing Japan to surrender at the end of World War II?
Many people in various aspects of life, whether they were rich or poor, black or white, male or female have been conflicted at some point over issues and problems that they either had no answer to or lacked the constitution to do what they knew was morally right. Young unwed women have found themselves pregnant with a child and conflicted with the thought of whether or not to have an abortion or to have the child (which would be the moral and humanely thing to do) and put it up for adoption, if they lacked the capacity to nurture and raise it themselves. Then there have been victims of rape, molestation, and even incest, both females and males, who have been conflicted and struggled within themselves about sharing the horrible experiences or keeping it to themselves because of being threatened and traumatized by the violator or the fear of being castigated, disbelieved, or blamed by the ones they shared it with.
I could, of course, go on and on about the many people in life of various professions, purposes, and pursuits, who would fit into the category of the conflicted over issues of life that they have had to contend with on the inside. Perhaps you are one of them. By chance, you may be experiencing an internal struggle over an important issue that has set you in the category of the conflicted. There are some things or should I say issues in my life that have certified me as being conflicted. To be totally honest, I am politically conflicted and have been so for quite a while. As an African-American, I am caught in the crossfire of two extremes and at times polar opposite ideologies. On one end of the spectrum is the liberal left that the majority of the people of my ethnicity belong to. Contrarily, is the conservative right that most evangelicals and those who take the Bible literally belong, of which I am a part of. In many ways, people like me are true moderates who embrace certain beliefs from both the left and the right. My convictions and conscience that are determined and dominated by my Judeo-Christian belief and literal interpretation of the Bible prohibit me from fully embracing and marching to the drum beat of those on the liberal left, who embrace abortion and gay marriages. My identity of being an African-American and one who has experienced institutionalized and systemic racism, restrains me from fully committing myself to those who are on the conservative right, who are to be commended for their bold stand against abortion and the gay agenda, but choose to remain silent and apathetic about racism and inequity in the culture (see Amos 5:21-24). Furthermore, many of my conservative brothers in Christ approve and applaud the divisive rhetoric of a demagogue, who knows how to blow the race whistle. So given some of the extreme and detestable beliefs and practices that are held by many, both on the liberal left and conservative right, I am compelled by my convictions, conscience, and ethnic culture to be a moderate. There are many like me who hold no allegiance to a particular political party. We are truly independents. We vote for candidates who best suit our core beliefs and values whether they are Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative, male or female, and race is unimportant in our decision.
My moderate position and non-partisan political ideology has perhaps caused people on both ends of the spectrum to speculate and even question whose side am I on and who will I endorse or support in any given election. Well, let me put to rest and settle any doubt or speculation about my loyalty and priority about things political. I am for what is right and just. I am for what is consistent with the Word of God. At the end of the day, though I am an African-American (proud and thankful to be so), I am first and foremost a new creation and follower of Jesus Christ.
My love and loyalty to Him is the impetus that determines, dominates, and dictates my beliefs, priorities, and values in every area. I say this without any apology, hesitation, or reservation. With me, He is truly Lord!