• Foundations of Truth

American Discourse Needs Humility Not “Unity”



It states in Romans 14:1-3 that Christians do not have to be in complete agreement on every matter. In Paul’s words, “accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.”


Just as Christians are not required to be united with one another on every matter, neither is the nation required to be so united.


“Unity” was a word that was used all-too-frequently during President Joe Biden’s inaugural address. He declared that “…without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.” [1]


Contrary to the President’s commentary, unity for its own sake is not what this nation needs and political disagreements, do not, invariably, lead to bitterness and fury.


It is possible to have a respectful debate that is approached with humility. If it is possible within the politics of the church, it is possible within our society.


A prime example of this respectful and humble disagreement can be found in the friendship between the late Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The two often found themselves on opposite ends of the political spectrum. However, they remained close friends who shared a love of food, travel, and opera. They respected each other and refused to discard or “cancel” one another’s work simply because they disagreed. [2]


President Biden likely intended his speech to address the wide public and social incivility, which has plagued the political discussions of our nation. However, dis-unity is not the cause of our current problems.


Our current political discussions lack civility because both sides have discarded the virtue of respect and humility. We have alienated our fellow Americans by caring too much about ideological conformity—or “unity,” as the President put it. Even within factions, like the social justice movement, disagreements in thought have led to degrading terms like “Uncle Tom foolery” being thrown at scholars like Loretta Ross, who advocated for “calling-in” instead of “calling-out.” [3]


Collins English Dictionary says that “When there is unity, people are in agreement and act together for a particular purpose.” [4]


Given the Loretta Ross example, it is clear that the factions engaged in this rift are currently no more united than the American people.


In 1 Peter 2:17, Christians are called to ”…show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” Although these words call for respect and humility, they do not require Christians to agree with everyone or aid them in achieving a purpose that they consider immoral.


The idea of moral objections is fundamental given that our nation is still predominantly Christian. There are many Christian objectors to the President’s proposed policies.


Consider a letter-to-the-editor from a self-described Catholic who stated: “The Democrat platform clearly promotes many horrendous intrinsic evils; of which abortion is the preeminent but NOT the only one, in addition to the failing policies on poverty and human rights.” [5]


Despite President Biden’s invocation, the people of the United States are not in agreement and cannot, in good conscience, act together to achieve the same purposes as his administration.

That kind of society would stifle the free market of ideas that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution was intended to protect.


Neither repression nor a civil war is an answer to these ills. It is critical at this point that cooler heads prevail. The biblical virtues of respect and humility need to be mutually accorded between political opponents. “Just agree with me, already!” cannot be used as a substitute for grappling with the reality that America is not united.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.


[1] “Full text: Joe Biden inauguration speech transcript,” Politico (January 20, 2021), https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/20/joe-biden-inauguration-speech-transcript-full-text-460813

[2] Karla Ross, “Mad About Call-out Culture?: Stop Centering White Cultural Norms & Feelings,” Medium (August 25, 2019), https://medium.com/quad-rants-4-change/mad-about-call-out-culture-stop-centering-white-cultural-norms-feelings-94335095e007

[3] Richard Wolf, “Opera, travel, food, law: The unlikely friendship of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia,” USAToday (September 20, 2020), https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/20/supreme-friends-ruth-bader-ginsburg-and-antonin-scalia/5844533002/

[4] “unity,” Collins English Dictionary (n.d.), https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/unity

[5] Bob Valek, “Letter: Voting for Joe Biden is immoral,” The Republic (October 14, 2020), http://www.therepublic.com/2020/10/14/letter_voting_for_joe_biden_is_immoral/

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