There’s no getting around it; we perceive the world through filters that help us efficiently process new information. Though flawed they are remarkable useful. We’re not limited to a single filter either, and much like an experienced photographer we can choose the most appropriate filter for a given situation. But more likely than not we have a trusty, everyday, point-and-shoot version. Sometimes it’s off kilter, but we capture some semblance of the moment. When deciding which primary filter to use, a little self-awareness goes a long way; it should be intentionally chosen and aligned with our greatest priorities.
I recently read about a group of LDS Democrats who met (congregated?) at the Democratic National Convention this past week to affirm that their political positions are consistent with their religious convictions. It is understandable that Mormon Democrats would feel obliged to show solidarity during this particular election cycle, and I applaud their efforts. But politically active Mormons on either side of the political spectrum should be careful of their choice of primary filter. Are we disciples of Christ filtering the political world through a spiritual lens or a political animal using our religion to justify our politics?
To hold a philosophy, political or otherwise, that is consistent with scripture is demonstrably insufficient. Though it’s unlikely that either party has a platform perfectly consistent with every Gospel principle, most of what’s contained in each of the recently published party platforms could be defended on scriptural grounds. It doesn’t make someone evil, stupid, or heartless to accept an opposing platform.
If your greatest priorities are political, by all means choose a political filter. But own it. Don’t preach Gospel principles from a political podium to persuade me to your cause. Be open to the fact that someone else might be doctrinally comfortable in a different political camp.
My dad used to say, “don’t let ideology trump theology.” Not bad advice. We’d avoid a lot of contention if followed.