Sarah, The Apron Stage’s D.C. Correspondent

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. … It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it … or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.” – Abraham Lincoln, Illinois’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate (June 1858 )

Mine is a house divided. Two of us five roommates work in the U.S. Senate. One for a Republican senator; one for a Democrat. The other three of us are variously liberal, independent, or conservative, depending on the issue. But it’s okay because we like each other and because usually we do not talk politics.

But right now, it’s all Inauguration, all the time. DC is readying itself for the day that promises to bring not just the Obamas but also 1.5 million of the Obamas’ closest friends. So, too, come the port-a-potties (1 for every 300 bladders) and the celebrities, who cannot seem to get enough of U.S. politics right now, even if they’re not actually U.S. citizens. (No offense, Bono.)

This is affecting the home front. On Tuesday, our world will temporarily shut down. We live in Virginia, and all bridges from here into the District will be closed, except for shuttle buses and foot traffic. None of the five of us have to work, which is good because four wouldn’t even be able to get to work if we had to. One of us is already in Jamaica. Two of us have tickets to the Inauguration; only one will actually go. (The other is the paid Republican. She also has a ticket to see President Bush’s departure from Andrews Air Force Base. She says her party needs her.)

And yesterday, Sunday, we had a decision to make: We five are all members of a church that teaches a pretty strict Sabbath observance, which usually does not include things like rocking out. But the celebrities were coming out like a sequined shirt, overglittering the National Mall in a Sunday afternoon star-studded lovefest. Usher and Ray Charles singing a duet! Beyonce singing the national anthem! Jamie Foxx doing Obama impressions! And Obama! And Denzel! And Bono singing “In the Name of Love”! !! !!! What’s more spiritual than that?

Ultimately, none of us went, some for religious reasons, some for pragmatic ones. But even if one of us had, it would not have been a problem. For us as roommates, these kinds of differences are not ones that matter. Ours is a happy but not a lifelong home.

But what happens when it’s not roommates that are divided but a family? Or a couple? What do we do if we’re divided by the stuff that, for whatever reason, actually matters to us, like politics or swing dancing ability or religion?  We friend across the divide, yes. Surely, we at least friend. We work across the divide. We comfort and console and love across the divide. But can we date across? Can we marry across? Can we make a divided heart our own?

Though both godly, the values of diversity and unity are sometimes in tension. And when they are, in which situations should which of them win out?

I feel like yelling this all from the rooftops. Turns out, it’s been on my mind.

I will say that, for real life purposes, Lincoln’s (and the Bible’s) “house divided” point may not always apply. I do need to accept that some divisions (or differences) will remain in my house. Will strengthen it, even. Much as I’d rather everyone be like me.

But I think Lincoln was right, even in the age of diversity and “if you love them, just go for it”: There are divisions that are too divisive, that will not let the house stand. Aren’t there? And though it’s sometimes hard to know which are the differences that are these divisions (sometimes it is SO HARD TO KNOW), they’re real. Sometimes differences do matter. They might not matter between neighbors, between colleagues, between friends. But when we’re building a house (aka choosing a life partner, building a family), for some reason, in a house, some divisions might just need to give way. Or be avoided all together.

(Or no?)

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