I remember being convinced that the Seventh-day Adventist worldview was the only correct lens through which to judge all incoming information, including political information used to make voting decisions. For decades I perceived everything I read, heard, observed, learned, and discovered through that very narrow lens, also known as The Great Controversy:
- God had created everything, including the universe, many different kinds of beings, and a particular kind of beings known as angels.
- The angel Lucifer sinned, creating the controversy between himself and God.
- Banned from heaven, Satan (formerly Lucifer) spread sin and controversy to the newly-created planet Earth by deceiving human beings to rebel against their Creator.
- Jesus put his life on the line for humans, determined not to lose them to Satan’s side of the controversy.
- The Bible was Jesus’ plan of attack and the most accurate synopsis of the on-going controversy.
- Satan’s deceptive powers had succeeded in getting most Christians to be confused about the most important truths in the Bible, or else to ignore it enough to neutralize its life-giving power.
- God had entrusted one group of people on Earth (the Seventh-day Adventist Church) with inspired information about the Bible and had given them an important mission to share that information with the world.
When I had thoroughly integrated these elements of the SDA worldview, I found it difficult to perceive new information from an alternative perspective. The SDA message is self-reinforcing and well insulated against attack. Sin and Satan’s deceptions explain away any objections which cannot be directly answered with specific Bible texts or Ellen White sayings.
- If arguments like “The Bible is full of contradictions” arose, that was explained away as Satan attempting to erode away faith in God’s Word.
- If evolutionary proofs were offered in contrast to creationist claims, “the fool hath said in his heart, ‘there is no God,'” and other such verses explained away evolution as if it were a competing faith-based belief system.
- If God’s mercy in the Old Testament was questioned after contemplating genocides, slavery, misogyny, etc., that was explained away by saying that God mercifully communicated to different cultures in the way best adapted to their way of thinking– the fault was sin’s corrupting influence, and God risked being misunderstood in order to carve a holy people from such corrupted beginnings. Anyway, Jesus could quickly be brought forward in the New Testament as the so-called ‘most accurate version’ of God’s true way of thinking. “I and the Father are One,” Jesus said. “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
- If natural disasters or disease epidemics brought God’s omnipotence into question, it was explained with a combination of sin’s devastating effects in the world, and the sinfully poor choices men made.
- If other Christians behaved poorly, or nations with other gods did evil in the name of their gods, the explanation was always ‘Satan at work,’ never ‘look what God allowed to occur today’.
Always, sin or free will or Satan were handy as a too-convenient way to explain away any difficulty. Or else, the ultimate dodge– God will answer all our questions in heaven.
The Christian mind which is enslaved to the above worldview can never be open to dangerous ideas. This is why Christian beliefs wreak havoc when they become influential in our U.S. political arena. In our form of representative government, the ‘folks back home’ rely on their elected representatives to listen carefully to each and every view in their constituency, especially when public opinion begins to obviously favor a particular side of an issue. On issues like gay marriage, contraception, and a woman’s right to control her own health decisions, the representatives in Congress who are devoted Christians tend to consult their beliefs and not their constituency when they vote on legislation.
I can see why they would do this. When I was a Christian, it was difficult– perhaps impossible– NOT to consider my own faith-informed opinions to be superior to all others, simply because I felt that my opinions agreed with the will of God. I strove to align all my political opinions and stances with my interpretation of the Bible. Most other serious Bible students were doing the same. When I would become convinced of a certain opinion, my faith that I was doing exactly ‘what Jesus would do’ about it made me stop thinking about other options, and closed off my mind from considering others’ point of view. I wouldn’t discuss these issues; I would inform others of the biblical view, and ignore whatever they said.
I recognize this same close-mindedness now for what it is, and when I see it in others it really sticks out. And seeing my country’s elected leadership increasingly embracing that closed-minded, head-in-the-sand Christian worldview, it pains me to know that my views will never be heard by them. It doesn’t matter that my views are shared by the majority of U.S. citizens: support of marriage equality, the ACA’s mandate for employers to provide contraception without comment, and support of a woman’s right to control her own body without being harassed by politicians and spiritual leaders.
Whether a view is held by a majority simply doesn’t make an impact on the closed Christian mind. I know it never affected me when I was a closed-minded Christian; the Bible has much to say about believing what’s ‘right’, even though no one agrees with you– because God approves of the stand you’re taking, and will reward you. I always assumed that whether or not everyone else came to agree with me, God would show them all in the final judgment that I was on the side of right all along. That hope of future vindication was all I needed to hang on to some of the most misogynistic, unethical values and views, many of which I see being trumpeted now by the religious right and the Tea Party, and their Fox News/hate radio-duped Christian electorate.