Dig Down Deep to Christian Values

The following Musing is an edited version of one section of chapter 6 of my “Let’s Talk” book that is titled “Lessons Learned and Questions for Conversation.”

You will have noticed by now that I place great importance on posing questions about values (what philosophers call “axiological questions”). This is based on my belief that if you dig beneath the surface of any decision, you will uncover one or more value commitments.

This suggests that when a Christian is contemplating any decision, including choosing a position on an issue, he or she should dig deep down to identify the Christian values that are at stake. My experience suggests that all too often we Christians base our decisions, including taking positions on contentious issues, on values we have absorbed from our broader culture, which may be antithetical to fundamental Christian values. I will offer one concrete example.

I once co-facilitated a small-group conversation in an adult discipleship class at my home church in Iowa on the topic “Christian Perspectives on News Headlines.” We were talking about one of the four pillars in President Trump’s position in immigration, the pillar that seeks to limit chain migration.

As I listened to the opinions expressed by those attending this class, both Republicans and Democrats, I discovered that each participant was essentially echoing the party line. I called for a “time out,” reminding my class attendees, “I didn’t ask you what your political party says about this issue. I asked you to present your ‘Christian perspective’ on this issue based on your understanding of foundational Christian values.” The subsequent conversation improved somewhat. But it was a constant challenge to get the attendees to dare to be critical of the perspectives embraced by their particular political parties. It is a grave error to assume that the values embraced by either major political party are necessarily congruent with Christian values.

Therefore, here are two words of advice for your consideration:

If you ever have the opportunity to facilitate a group conversation on any contentious issue (political or otherwise) in any setting (in church, in school, or around the family dinner table), push your conversation partners to dig down deep to their Christian value commitments as the basis on which they stake their positions.

For every choice you make in life, base your decision on your understanding of foundational Christian values.

The Musings flowing from my book Let’s Talk that I have shared with you to date stress the importance of you trying to adequately understand the contrary positions taken by others regarding contentious issues; especially attempting to understand the reasons that inform these differing positions, which, I have argued, will be deeply informed by the particularities of the other person’s social location and his/her personal biography. In popular parlance, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

In my next Musing, I will suggest that you will be better able to “see things from the other person’s perspective” if you, in your own pilgrimage, expose yourself to theologies that differ from the theology that has been primary in your personal story.



0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *