As a Christian social scientist, my personal views are often at odds with those of my peers. That is not to say that I cannot apply sociological thought and theory to the world around me. In fact, I believe it gives me a unique perspective in both the academic and religious worlds.
I believe that my Christian world view paints an interesting perspective to the conundrums facing the social world. Whereas sociological paradigms seek to understand human behavior through genetics, biology, or socialization—I seek to understand society on a spiritual level. This is how it works in practice.
Take the topic of deviant social movements sweeping our nation, like #blacklivesmatter. Many of my colleagues would explain the movement as a Marxist revolution of the proletariat (blacks) finally reaching consciousness of systemic oppression and rising up to overthrow their oppressors (cops).
Others would see a structural-functionalist perspective that would say that the movement has a function in society—as they are serving as an exemplar of social behavior of an oppressed group. This will lead to social change and a measure of social control.
I see the movement as a way in which our society has lost a spiritual connection both in the institution of police and actions of the movement. I do not view violence between these two groups as necessarily a function of keeping order or as a retaliation for oppression—although those two concepts are at play. I see the loss of spiritual connection with a peace loving creator.
History is full of oppressive forces, and there are often three ways of dealing with them. The first is to do nothing. The second is a violent revolution. The third is through civil disobedience and protest.
As a Christian, I certainly prefer the third option. I also believe it to be the most productive and effective. The exemplar of this is the Civil Rights movement. There were marches, massive protests, and no violence from the group seeking change—although violence was visited on them. Racial tensions persisted even after the Civil Rights Act of 1965, but they became largely passé over the next 50 years. I believe this happened because through peace and solidarity, the bonds of society were strengthened. It is hard to stay angry with someone who reacts with love and respect.
Fast forward to the #blacklivesmatter movement. It is full of negativity, malice, and has led to calls for and acts of violence. This is causing further division between good people who want to support both police and the black community. Riots, rage, and assassinations of law enforcement agents are tearing at the fabric of an already stretched security blanket protecting society from cannibalizing itself.
Moreover, we watch the news every day and see horrific images of ISIS, Planned Parenthood, and outrageous political debate. There are calls to flip social norms from American Christian heritage to a new humanistic future. It feels like we are living in a fragile concoction of nitro-glycerin that has been lobbed into the air. Life could explode at any second.
Again, my social science friends would seek to apply their prescribed paradigmatic theories to this social shift. Is it anomie? Maybe it is interactionist social construction re-framing social structures. Postmodern appropriation of Marx’s class oppression are used to explain feminist, critical race, and queer theories.
There are a dozen tools for studying society.
The reshaping of American ideals is not irrational. Those involved in #blacklivesmatter or ISIS (I am not conflating the two as ideologies, but by violence) are not irrational or insane. They can cite examples for why they are acting out in violence. One group believes they are retaliating against systemic racism. Another is killing because they take their holy book literally. These are not irrational. However, violence against innocents is always evil.
Our response to oppression should be to take action. However, this action should be peaceful. We should rally and march for causes. We need to band together and unite in order to break through the noise of evil that seems to be covered much more often by the media. Peace is a uniting concept. Violence is divisive. Violence is evil, and the spirit of a violent perpetrator is equally so.
I prefer to open my Bible and see the history of human oppression and depravity that ultimately leads to destruction. Evil is real, and cannot be quantified through statistical analysis or qualified through field work when using incorrect tools. Evil is not psychological, biological, or social. It is a spiritual wickedness that rots humanity from the inside out.