Doing and speaking well in politics

Tuesday night, the folks up in Indiana made a couple of hugely important decisions. They effectively determined the presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican Party and they chose to give a Democratic Socialist a stunning victory which logically means the Democratic presidential nominee will not be determined for sure until the Democratic convention.

This is, by most accounts, a unique and pivotal year for our nation. For the first time a large block of voters will be faced with a dilemma: That is not finding a candidate for whom in good conscious they can vote.

Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said it this way in today’s podcast:

“We’re looking at a redefinition of the American political landscape that will require us to think through some very serious questions in terms of our political responsibility. And make no mistake; we cannot avoid that responsibility. Once we are granted the franchise, not voting is itself a vote, privileging everyone who does vote and increasing the value of every other vote. In truth, we bear a political responsibility that can’t be franchised away and can’t be delegated to others. Eventually we will face the responsibility of thinking through the issues in terms of the responsibility of our vote, and this is going to require Christians in the United States to grow up and mature rather significantly and rather quickly. Because after all, November will be fast upon us.”

You can listen or read a transcript of the entire podcast here.

This political season is not one at which we can yawn. As a Christian, we have a responsibility living in a form of government where we are tasked with choosing our leaders. Many Christians across the planet live in countries where their leaders are chosen for them and in many cases, forced upon them. How can we who are blessed to live in America choose not to be engaged? And, if we do engage in the political process, how can we do it in anything than a Christ-honoring way?

We live in a very politically charged city. It is a city that tends to vote more Democratic Party and more liberal than a lot of the south and most of the rest of the state. As citizens in any part of the state, but especially here, it can be tempting to adopt the prevailing party’s stance on many issues, even if those positions are contrary to a Biblical worldview.

It can be just as difficult to hold and express views that are contrary to the majority view and do it in a way that persuades and not alienates. While we may never win over others to our view, we should not lose the argument because we presented it abhorrently.

It is easy to lose our manners when it comes to political discourse. In the words of political commentator and psychiatrist, Charles Krauthammer, manners are the key to civility. We will not harm ourselves by adopting better manners. While we may not win the debate this year, we may very well earn a hearing on the issues of tomorrow.

When we read on social media the heated discourse, the profane language, the hateful sounding rhetoric, it can appear perfectly normal if we read it enough, and especially if it expresses something of our sentiment. But, that does not mean it is the rhetoric we should adopt.

Don’t get me wrong, language must sometimes be strong and can even be offensive to those who disagree, but their offense should be at the principle we hold and not the loose or careless way we express it.

Here is a general rule that may save from looking silly, mean or irrelevant.  If you cannot contain yourself and feel you absolutely most respond to a Facebook post within seconds of reading it––don’t. Restrain yourself. It is a sure way to short term “feel good” and long term “done bad.”

It should not be surprising that we will disagree with one another and with others when it comes to politics. Our disagreements could be over trivial preferences or deep and important principles. However, we must set the example to others that we can still be respectful while disagreeing. Passion should add fire to our convictions, but not become our convictions. Have you ever known someone who is always upset, but you rarely know why?

I think of my two grandmothers. I loved them both. And yet, politically, we saw the world very differently. They loved and admired politicians whose political views I found repugnant. Yet, I never felt less love for them, less admiration for them, less respect for them because of their political views. They were dear to me regardless of their political views.

People should be important to you regardless of how they see the world politically. God created them and that alone makes them special. People can even be wrong, but wrong does not mean unloved (else how would you and I have ever been found by Jesus?).

Let us not waver one iota over principled positions that transcend politics. Let us be bold in expressing and persuading others toward that which is righteous. Let us speak the truth when necessary if we can do it in love. But, let us always remember that, like it or not, we represent the Savior (and we really should like it). We are His ambassadors. What we do and how we do it, what we say and how we say it, reflects upon Him and His kingdom.

This political season (and always) let us do well and let us speak well.

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