Ending self-righteousness in political discussions
Originally published online on June 2, 2022.
I was chatting on the phone with a church friend who held an opposing political view on a topic I felt strongly about. I thought maybe I could help my friend understand the need to think differently about it. After I made my comments, she didn’t say anything right away. But then she shared a spiritual way of looking at the issue, putting it more in God’s hands.
After our conversation, which ended on our usual cheery note, I was still kind of thinking about my friend, “You just don’t get it!” I felt frustrated and puzzled by someone accepting views that seemed less than morally right to me. I felt that the issues we had been discussing needed to be addressed more practically. But then I prayed, and as I did so, I could see that human will was acting as a roadblock to my thinking and that I needed to confront my feelings and frustration.
I’d been trying to correct someone else, and had felt justified in doing so.
As I continued to study and pray throughout that week, wanting to heal this willfulness, I came across a definition of the word Pharisee in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. Part of the definition is “self-righteousness” (p. 592). Ouch! In the Bible, Christ Jesus condemned the Pharisees’ self-righteous hypocrisy, which kept them from seeing their own need for repentance. I certainly didn’t want to continue in this way of thinking or acting. The reference to self-righteousness had certainly hit home, and now I had a sincere desire to drop any effort to push my views further.
Aiding my awakening to this need for healing, the readings at that week’s Wednesday testimony meeting at my branch Church of Christ, Scientist, centered around one of Jesus’ admonitions: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). The readings, composed of passages from the Bible and Science and Health, spoke directly to me. Until then, I hadn’t actually thought I’d been hypocritical. But now there was no question about it—I’d been trying to correct someone else, and had felt justified in doing so. I was beginning to see that maybe I was the one who didn’t “get it.”
I was able to drop my political agenda and its accompanying self-righteous indignation.
As I prayed about this and studied whatever unfolded to me, I found that no matter how morally right I felt my views were, I wasn’t approaching sharing these views in a right way. Mrs. Eddy writes, “To strike out right and left against the mist, never clears the vision; but to lift your head above it, is a sovereign panacea” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 355).
After a few days I was able to drop my political agenda and its accompanying self-righteous indignation. This has been so freeing, and the healing of my thought has continued. While there’s nothing wrong with taking a stand for what we feel is right, it’s possible to do so calmly and in a way more open to hearing others’ views as well.
I’m so grateful for this corrected and uplifted view. Thank you, God!