In our Outsiders series through the Book of Daniel, we’ve learned that this world is not really ours, and that our home is in heaven. But as followers of Jesus and living in this world, we still have responsibilities and should fulfill all of them faithfully. That includes, as temporal citizens of the United States, voting for candidates we believe would bless the people best, and even engaging in discourse regarding the issues (in person…NOT online!).
However, I know very few people who can talk politics in a beneficial way. But Christians should be different. Here are some helpful guidelines (of which I wish I myself had always followed):
• Learn what your party believes. Most people don’t really know. Even though we may claim to be independent, most of us tend to vote one party over the other. You probably grew up with the political leanings that you embrace today. It was passed on to you subtly (or not so subtly) from your parents, and you just assume the party you vote for holds to the things you value. They probably don’t. Party positions change, and so does our view of the world, especially as we grow in Christ. So download the party platform and read it. Find out what their positions really are. Then find out what their adversaries response to those positions are. (You might find that you align more with the opponents response.)
• Learn what the other party believes. You’ve probably only heard their positions from people attacking them. So find out for yourself. Again, do some research. Download their party platform. Read some articles written by their most articulate thinkers, and not the politicians themselves.
• Challenge your own beliefs. Think through the things you’ve held to, politically, and ask how those positions jive with your core beliefs, especially when it comes to your faith and God’s Word. How do your political views align with Scripture? Remind yourself that you’ve been wrong before, and you might be wrong about your political views.
Until you’ve done the above, you have no business talking politics, because you don’t really know what you’re talking about!
• Ask questions and listen for the answer. If you are in a discussion, start by asking sincere and poignant questions. When dialoging, make very few, if any, statements. It’s best to explain what you believe in response to their inquiry. Otherwise, you’re just arguing and neither of you are listening. So ask questions. You’ll find they don’t necessarily know why they hold to their positions (because few people do).
• Be kind and respectful. Talk respectfully to the person you are talking to and about candidates and positions discussed. Don’t call names, make accusations, or be antagonistic. As soon as you resort to incivility, you lose. But you can be attractive in your approach, even to those who disagree with you, if you are kind and respectful.
• Be humble. Even with extensive research, you don’t know everything. Admit where you don’t, acknowledge their strong points and your weaknesses. Be willing to change your perspective.
What if our approach in talking politics was altogether different from the rest of the world? What would happen to our witness if Christians did not shy away from political discussion, but did it in a way that people were actually drawn in and interested because we are the examples of civility, grace and humility?
And just think how that might change your family Thanksgiving this year!
See also: http://pastorscottz.com/2016/02/18/are-you-civil/