How Should We Converse About the Election?
The aftermath of Tuesday's election was fairly predictable, given the oftentimes combative and hateful nature of the campaigns. Much extreme and offensive language was used, and many people on both sides of the aisle became disillusioned throughout the process.
Evangelical Christians have taken a beating over the last few days. While some evangelicals voted for Clinton, and some others voted 3rd party or write-in because neither of the two major candidates seemed palatable (full disclosure: I am in that category), the overwhelming majority of white evangelicals voted for Trump. Most of the people whom I conversed with in this category confessed that they were doing so while holding their nose. There was no joy in the choice, and for many (including myself), a real frustration that we had no say in the primary process because Trump was already chosen by the time our state's primary came around.
And here begins our problem - it appears that discussion between people on opposite sides is nearly impossible right now. Tensions are at an all-time high, and I am sure they will cool somewhat as the weeks go by. But when these conversations arise, how do we glorify God in them? Here are a few brief thoughts:
1. Listen! (James 1:19) - Conversations about politics can get heated in a hurry in the best of situations, even more so in a time like this. People tend to want to make their point heard, and Christians are no different. If you voted for Trump, it may be a temptation at this point to be angry at protestors and dismiss the concerns they have. But if you are having conversation, you ought to listen to them! Remember that Trump said some genuinely awful things on the campaign trail, things that would rightly incite fear in certain groups of people. We should understand that when the KKK celebrates this candidate's election, people whom we love are going to have MAJOR misgivings. When Trump supporters brag about how they would not have protested if he lost, but forget that many folks said Obama was the Antichrist and questioned his American citizenship, it rings hollow. Listen to them, do not seek to take the fight to them. Likewise, every Christian who voted for Trump is not a racist or misogynist. If you voted for Hillary or 3rd party, be willing to listen. Many people had decent reasons for voting for whichever candidate they chose (Supreme court appointees, foreign policy, trade, healthcare, etc). I am under no illusion that we will all come to agreement politically, but if we can hear each other out it sets the tone for godly conversation. Passing off the concerns of others as stupid or unimportant will certainly shut the door for any positive conversation.
2. The glory of God is WAY more important than winning your argument (1 Cor. 10:31) - The human and competitive part of us quite often decides not to rest until we "win." We not only want to defend our position, but we want to convince everyone else. Remember that our first calling and highest desire is to glorify God, not to win. Therefore, we are to speak winsomely, lovingly, and thinking the best of the one we are talking with. If convincing people that your political decisions are best becomes more important than glorifying God, you should stop talking and just pray.
3. If we are going to bear reproach, may it only be for the Gospel (1 Cor. 1:18-31, 10:32-33)! - We must determine in our hearts not to put any stumbling block in the way of others EXCEPT for the message of Jesus Christ. We may convince ourselves that this political conversation is truly a gospel conversation, but do not be deceived. We are on this earth as ambassadors for Christ, the Lord making His appeal through us. Our main calling is to appeal to the world to be reconciled to God, and that only happens through the person and work of Jesus Christ. If they reject us because we follow Christ, then we are following in His footsteps. He is the One who is worthy of bearing reproach for!
I pray that in the days and weeks that come, we will be able to have many God-honoring political and spiritual conversations with those who think like us, and those who do not. And I pray that by God's grace our priorities would be in the proper order, that the Gospel would spoken and kept in step with among all who love Jesus!