The unlikely friendship of Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been the topic of conversation recently since the news of his death broke. In a country seeming more and more polarized the story of these “best buddies” is refreshing. He was the first Italian-American on the Supreme Court, a burly devout Roman Catholic who was almost larger-than-life in the brash way that he presented his views. Ginsburg is a soft-spoken petite woman of Jewish heritage who describes herself as nonobservant. Scalia and his wife had nine children while Ginsburg and her husband had two. Scalia was a staunch conservative “originalist” who believed in strict adherence to what the text meant when it was written while Ginsburg is a staunch liberal who believes in a “living Constitution” that can change with the times. President Reagan appointed him while President Clinton appointed her. On controversial cases where the justices were divided they were likely to disagree.
Despite their major differences, Scalia and Ginsburg were treasured friends who forged an uncommon bond. They and their spouses frequently dined and vacationed together. The two couples even had a tradition of gathering to ring in the new year. Their friendship transcended opposing ideologies. They both appreciated well-reasoned arguments and good writing. It was appropriate that, due their mutual love of opera, Derrick Wang wrote a one-act opera entitled “Scalia/Ginsburg.”
How often do we, as Christians, establish deep friendships with people of other faiths? Even within the church are we prone to connect mostly with those who think the way we think? Although it might be tempting to stay within a bubble of people who almost always agree with us, what would that do for our personal growth or our impact on society?
In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13a, 14-16)
To be salt and light we must invest ourselves in caring relationships with a variety of friends. Pastor Steve Norman wrote that it is important for Christians “to develop legitimate, agenda-free friendships with people who don’t share our core convictions.” It is beneficial for us to learn to listen and also to articulate what we believe. Justices Scalia and Ginsburg demonstrated how much nicer life is when we enjoy mutual respect despite our differences.