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Wedge issues are all too common

Pastor's corner

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POSTED: November 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.
There is a new buzz word in our society today. It is one that comes up both nationally and internationally. It is a word that particularly found its place during the recent election. It is the word, "wedge." It is usually found in the phrase, the wedge issue.
As defined by Wikipedia, a wedge issue is a social or political issue, often of a divisive or otherwise controversial nature, which splits apart or creates a "wedge" in the support base of one political group. Wedge issues can be advertised, publicly aired, and otherwise emphasized by an opposing political group, in an attempt to weaken the unity of the divided group, or to entice voters in the divided group to give their support to the opposing group.
"Wedge politics" is the use of wedge issues to stir confusing debates, which causes a perception of disarray among leaders. Through criticism, it creates dissent — even within the boundaries of the opposition's camp or party. It has, throughout political history, created the destruction or "splitting" of political parties.
At this point, you might be saying, "The election is over. Can't we take a break from all this political stuff?" Please understand that this is less about politics and more about the ideology of man. There are issues that were largely ignored during the election - issues that greatly affect and divide our nation. They cannot be ignored. They will not go away. They must be addressed.
Wedge politics and wedge issues are not new. They have occurred from the beginning of time.
Wedge issues pit family members against one another. They divide friendships. They divide countries. A wedge issue was even used by Satan to divide Eve from her relationship with God. Having created a personal issue of control against God, he created a division that separated one third of the angels from the rest. They were evicted from the heavens because of it. The issue — Satan desired to be as God. He "spun" God's instruction about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to convince Eve of his position. That God was holding back to maintain supreme power. She bought it.
Some say you should look beyond wedge issues. Their sole purpose is to divide. I submit that this is exactly the reason we cannot overlook them — because they have the ability to divide. There ultimately comes a point when you cannot walk with someone with whom you are in disagreement. History proves that you can squelch that disagreement, but if not conquered, it will resurface.
It’s interesting that the wedge issues that our nation faces politically are all issues that are able to be addressed biblically. I submit the reason for this is that wedge issues themselves are about man's ideology. The first wedge issue was for the purpose of separating man's ideals from God's. Today's wedge issues accomplish much the same purpose. The proof in this is that wedge issues do not simply divide externally — country against country, enemy against enemy. They divide internally between families, friends, even churches.
Wedge issues are only able to work because they are built on the ideas and ethics of the people involved. They have power because they feed on the true character of man.
You are faced with wedge issues everyday — in your family relationships, on your job, in your schools, in government and politics; even at your church. Don't hide from them. Consider them. Face them. Determine what ideals you really embrace.  
Is God's will above your will or desires? Does His character reflect more greatly in your mirror than your own? If He asked you directly what you believe, how would you answer? There is no real middle ground. If you do not serve the One, you will eventually, by default, serve the other.     

Byler is the senior pastor of Bethesda Church — The Amazing Life Church.
 

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