The country has been riveted, conflicted, sorrowful, defiant, and divided as we’ve watched the Senate Judiciary Committee examine the formal allegations of sexual assault made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Judge Kavanaugh is President Trump’s top pick for the Supreme Court opening left vacant by the June retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Dr. Ford is the psychology professor alleging that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in 1982.
The committee spent an emotional and rancorous Thursday hearing from both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, and questioning both in turn. But after eight-plus hours, the only sure thing was that the dominant opinions had once again fallen along partisan lines. Democrats were inclined to believe Ford, Republicans were inclined to believe Kavanaugh, and our polarized nation remained lined up behind our political mascots. The committee continued deliberating on Friday and finally voted to send the nomination forward, with an FBI investigation still looming and the parties divided over the motives and merits of such an investigation.
These are tumultuous times—inflamed by identity politics, swarmed by frenzied media, fueled by cultural movements, and prejudged by a suspicious and partisan public.
But for the church of Jesus Christ, there is a better way—a clear path forward where we keep our senses in a senseless age and restore our virtue in a vicious world. It will require swimming hard, with the strength of full conviction, against a relentless current. But it’s the only way God allows, and it’s the one he clearly demands.
Three thousand years ago, young King Solomon asked for God’s wisdom above all else: “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9). God answered his prayer and gave him “wisdom and understanding beyond measure” (4:29) so that “he was wiser than all other men” (4:31). Then “people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (4:34).
But Solomon’s newfound wisdom was first displayed in an impossible she-said she-said scenario involving “two prostitutes” (3:16–28). According to God’s law, both had equally low moral credibility, making their competing claims equally dubious. Both had given birth recently, but one of their infants had died during the night, and both were now claiming that the remaining child was theirs. King Solomon, endowed with the wisdom of God, threatened to cut the child in half, trusting that the visceral responses of the women would reveal the true mother. His God-given instincts were right, the baby was restored to its rightful mother, and as the story spread among an awestruck nation, “they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice” (3:28).
Like Solomon, we need the wisdom of God to discern between good and evil so that we might do justice in the most complicated and emotional situations.
And we need this wisdom desperately when dealing with issues in the public square, because the fullness of God’s truth and justice is never located exclusively in one political party or ideological movement. When critical pieces of truth lie concealed somewhere in the shadows—which they always do—there is no partisan light that can uncover them all. Because partisan light is always selective.
That’s why these kinds of predicaments test our virtue, our resolve, our moral fiber, and whether we’re more committed to wisdom in pursuit of truth or politics in pursuit of power. Solomon didn’t want an “understanding mind” for the optics or the leverage or the political capital. He wanted an “understanding mind” to “discern between good and evil” at all levels of society.
But do we have access to this wisdom, this discernment, this skillful ability to think and act justly in the most layered situations? As we walk the hall of mirrors that our shared public life has become, will God give us the wisdom of Solomon?
He already has, and more.
Jesus was speaking of himself when he told the religious scholars and leaders of his day that “something greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42). The apostle Paul told the starstruck Corinthians that Christ is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). He even said that “we have the mind of Christ” (2:16).
The head of the Christian church is the resurrected Son of God who possesses all knowledge and wisdom and insight. He came to earth as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He spoke the truth fearlessly (Mark 12:14), and created a counter-cultural community who would do the same (Acts 4:13). When standing on trial himself, he announced his mission: “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
The church is therefore united by faith with one who calls himself “the truth,” one who will one day unite all things in himself (Ephesians 1:10). Our great privilege, then, is to live always and only for the truth, with the expectation that it will cost us our opinions, our preferences, our prejudices, and often our power to do so. Yet no matter what it takes or what it costs, this is who we are, and this is who we must be.
There is a painful and vicious uncertainty at play in the deliberations of the U.S. Senate which will carry into next week. The allegations are serious, and should be taken seriously. The defense has been serious, and should be seriously considered. Even if our certainty will increase at some point, we don’t have certainty today.
But this is nothing new. We live in the already/not-yet of God’s kingdom, awaiting the day when all the secret things will come to light, every evil deed judged, and every wrong made right. But we must not react to the not-yet by demanding an already that has not been given to us. We must not give in to the “must-know-now” mentality that leads us to rush, assume, twist, speculate, or prejudge the evidence and the process. We are not responsible to know all things immediately; we’re only responsible to act truthfully based on what we do know.
As we do so, we cannot privilege men over women or women over men, conservative over liberal or liberal over conservative. We must seek the truth from the town square all the way to the many dark corners where truth must be found. And when the truth we find has implications, especially inconvenient ones, we must lean into these implications and not away from them. If we know that the truth of Jesus Christ has set us free (John 8:32), then we must also believe that only the truth can continue freeing us from the layered lies of a twisted world.
The church can and must do better than the truth-trampling tribalism that continues consuming our nation’s conscience. We should be people of due process, fair hearing, objective reasoning, and impartial justice. We should push when justice demands it, and wait when waiting is wise. And we should accept the praise or the scorn as it comes, never ceasing to pursue the full truth in every situation.
Sometimes we’ll be called to oppose the best of our friends, and sometimes we’ll be called to stand with the worst of our enemies. But if we refuse to do so when the truth requires it, we are not truth-seekers, no matter how we posture ourselves.
When will all victims of sexual assault know that we are committed to hearing them, protecting them, and pursuing justice on their behalf? When we are people who labor for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. When will all victims of false allegations know that we are committed to hearing them, protecting them, and restoring their reputations in full? When we are people who labor for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And when will all enemies of truth and justice finally begin to take notice? When they no longer see in Christians the same partisan impulses that animate the worst of our citizenry, but finally sense among us that “something greater than Solomon is here.”