I had just finished reading the Scriptures before the congregation. Now, it was time to pass the peace. As I reached out my hand to greet the Caucasian woman next to me, she likewise reached out her hand. But before hers touched mine, she jerked it back with an unmistakable look of disgust, the reality of my skin color having finally registered with her. As if choreographed in advance, she pirouetted and began shaking hands in the opposite direction without a word. Standing there, I wondered if she felt any contradiction between her actions and those advocated by the Holy Bible passages I had just read. And I wondered, yet again, why a place that is supposed to embody love is responsible for so much hate.
These were not emotional questions. They were logical questions, theological questions. I wanted her to explain what biblical justification she could muster for treating me so shabbily. I wanted chapter and verse laid out with syllogistic precision. But I knew that if I wanted an answer of this type, I was going to have to search the Scriptures for myself.
With this aim—to understand the biblical logic embraced by so many people—I began to ponder why our thoughts on a multitude of issues were often diametrically opposed. I wanted to know why our views on abortion, imprisonment, women’s rights, and a host of other matters seemed as if they were formed while reading two different Bibles.
No matter how I tried to reconcile our differences, the end was frequently the same: I was wrong from their perspective, and they were unquestionably right. Yet, I could not help but think their approach lacked humility, especially in light of 1 Corinthians 8:1–3, which says, “‘All of us possess knowledge.’ ‘Knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone images that he knows something [for certain], he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him.”
These verses echo Socrates and his assertion that he was wisest among the Greeks of his time because he alone knew that he knew nothing. He was willing to fully listen to other people because he was willing to suspend his own sense of certainty—an essential stance in a complex world that we can accurately understand only from the perspective of multiple, overlapping co-narratives . . .
Read More from Love: The Foundation
In 2002, I visited Maine to see Gregg, my college roommate, and his young family. At the Naval Academy, Gregg and I made strange bedfellows:
In the aftermath of my conversation with Gregg, I wondered if wise-love was just a concept I had made up in the moment to try