Are you open-minded? This is a question I ask students in an ethics class that I teach.

One aspect of being open-minded means reserving judgment as conditions change. Our world changes constantly.

Over against open-mindedness are unchanging principles. This characteristic separates us from the other animals. We can act by principle rather than merely by instinct. Consider it one of God’s great gifts to the human race.

Jesus taught that the greatest human principle is love. He taught love for God and love for others as the highest order of life. Jesus even taught that we should love our enemies. No other animal is capable of that.

Balancing unchanging principles with open-mindedness amid changing conditions is the challenge and choice we often face. Which takes precedence?

Obviously, we should never compromise our principles. Yet, we must not confuse principle and open-mindedness. Doing so could spell our doom.

To illustrate, a principle is similar to the need all of us have for food. However, there is great variety as to how we meet the need for food. No one would say we all must eat the same food to survive.

Yet, as conditions change, we change our diet and lifestyle. If our blood pressure goes up, we limit sodium intake and fatty foods. We exercise more.

God has blessed us with abundance. Our abundant food choice means we easily can change our diet as needed.

Our overall conditions for survival have changed greatly in the past two years. A deadly virus spread around the world and open-minded people took adaptive steps. It was a matter of principle.

Now a variant of the virus again is claiming hundreds of U.S. lives daily. We must change, again, to survive. Remaining rigid and locked on the previous protective measures is not an option.

Fortunately, God blessed humans with an abundance of ability to mitigate things such as viruses. Vaccines now exist for an increasing number of deadly diseases.

Too, with practice, we’ve been able to produce vaccines that are far safer than those of the past. Today’s vaccines have a remarkably low incidence rate compared to older remedies.

Taking steps to survive in the face of danger is an ability of the open-minded. It is as basic as changing our diet to meet the changes in our bodies.

God’s great gifts include a mind that can adapt to a changing world unlike that of any previous version of mankind. When coupled with the unchanging principle of love, we can achieve things we never thought possible.

– Mike Mitchell, pastor at Gault Avenue Baptist Church

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