President Trump’s election has triggered a political climate the likes of which I’ve never seen before. A few months later and the outrage has not abated. How should a Christian act in such a contentious environment? Should we take a break from reading the news and using social media? Should we unfriend or unfollow Facebook friends with differing opinions? Is it better to ignore or engage those with opposing views?
These are some questions I’ve asked myself lately, and I’ve found some direction in the Bible. While the Bible doesn’t answer every political question, it provides a gauge for evaluating political movements and our own participation in the political process: “God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power; and of love; and of a sound mind” (Timothy 1:7).
Whatever our opinion, cause, or level of activism, if we cannot feel love for our fellow man, if we are consumed by worry or resentment, we can be sure we are not working under the direction of God’s spirit. When I find that I’m feeling contemptuous or hopeless, I know it’s time to spiritually reboot.
As someone clever said, “If life were easy, it wouldn’t be hard.” Being Christ-like in the political arena is easier said than done. It is possible, though. As I’ve tried to engage people of opposing viewpoints in a Christian way, I’ve learned–often through trial and error–some principles of Christian politicking. Below are a few practical suggestions for maintaining a spirit of power, love and a sound mind while engaging in the political process.
- Pray always and feast upon the words of Christ. When we pray and study God’s word, we put on the spiritual armor we need to feel peace and love in today’s political climate.
- Instead of immediately countering someone’s political statement, ask the person if he or she would be interested in having a friendly discussion about the topic they’ve mentioned. If the answer is “no,” a simple “okay” is all that’s necessary.
- Express respect for everyone and admiration for other’s virtues. Even if we can’t stand a friend’s viewpoint or a politician’s position, there’s almost always room for a sincere compliment. I, for example, passionately oppose President Obama’s actions concerning gay marriage, but I am glad to say I admire his devotion as a husband and father.
- Check your facts. Don’t spread false information.
- Look for common ground. It’s not a waste of time to point out where opposing parties have some agreement, even when that consensus might seem obvious. It’s helpful to remember that on many issues we are all on the same page.
- Learn to politely end a conversation. I like to say, “I can see we are not going to reach an agreement on this subject. I respect your reasoned opinion and hope you will respect mine.”
- Be ready to say sorry and try again. We’ve all said things we regret. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you say or write something that wasn’t perfect. Where possible, admit your regret, then try again.
Do you have additional ideas or experiences you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your suggestions.