Sunday, September 30, 2018

Put the Best Construction on Everything

Today in church my pastor's sermon talked about the past week and the impact of the Kavanaugh hearings. It caught my attention because our pastors rarely bring politics into their weekly sermons. This is one of the things I like best about my church - it is a safe haven from the craziness that is Washington DC.

My pastor brought up the 8th commandment, "Though shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor." He then reminded us of Luther's definition of this commandment from the small catechism (source).

"What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, nor defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything."

Bear with me here, I'm not diving in to religious interpretations nor using it as an argument about anything having to do with the Kavanaugh hearings. I'm aiming for a wider view.

Focus on that final phrase of the explanation, "put the best construction on everything." I wish that "put the best construction on everything," was a common practice. As a society we seem to automatically believe the absolute worst in individuals immediately, regardless of the credibility of the evidence against them. If there are enough tweets and posts and comments then it must be true. We leave no room for the effects of maturing, evolving opinions, nuanced arguments, learning from mistakes, rehabilitation. There is not a single human in this world who can look back on a lifetime and not conjure up a time when they said or did something that would be awful in the light of 2018, or any light for that matter.

Please put the best construction on everything. Then maybe, just maybe, we might be able to have important conversations and share opinions civilly.

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