How much damage did the election cause to the church?
Or rather, how much damage did we do, with the election’s help?
I am writing this on Tuesday afternoon. I have no idea what mood I will be in by the time you read these words. While you are reading these words, literally half of this country is very upset. I do not need to be a fortune teller to know that.
Half of us are convinced that the man who will be President for the next four years will cause irreparable harm to this country. Chances are, he will, as most Presidents do. Hopefully, he will cause less harm than the good he accomplishes.
But I fear that the damage done to our churches will not be erased anytime soon, though the election is over.
Fourth Grade Politics
I have an interesting challenge as a school teacher: keeping politics out of the classroom.
It isn’t that I can’t resist indoctrinating my captive, elementary school audience. I can’t get the kids to shut up about the election! Of course, I know that they are just parroting the inflamed opinions that their parents said behind closed doors. Those opinions are not meant to be shouted in the middle of a classroom.
But children do not know that it is rude to talk about politics in polite company…
…Actually, it seems many adults have forgotten that too.
The Rules of Etiquette Do Not Apply
A consequence of our digital space is that people have forgotten the long standing rules of etiquette that allow us to maintain a civilized society.
So people fill up their Facebook timelines with asinine political opinions, parroted from cable news. Bloggers assault blog-nation with well-worn clichés.
You can do this if you want to. You’re an American. But remember that some people will un-friend, un-follow or un-subscribe you.
But what is inexcusable is the habit that so many people seem to have of assuming that everyone in the room is of the same political stripe. I do not care if you are in your church, your small group, or just a group of casual friends. It is rude, crude, and completely classless to speak with the condescending assumption that everyone in the group simply must be voting the same way.
I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself in that situation, even with good friends. I consider myself polite enough to not speak up when this happens. But my opinion of someone immediately plummets whenever they do this.
I have seen way too many blog posts that seem to have this same attitude: that anyone with a brain must be voting a certain way. If you’re my friend, or you go to my church, or you read my blog, surely you must be intelligent enough to know how to vote.
As Christians, we have allowed the election to divide us with permanent wedges. We have broken Christian unity and allowed irreparable damage to break the church by treating each other with contempt. We have placed the kingdom of America before the Kingdom of God.
Give Up Your Freedom of Speech
One of my closest friends is also my most challenging.
When it comes to theology, we are both Christians. But talking theology is a struggle between us.
And politics? Don’t even go there. I really cannot imagine how he reached most of his political conclusions.
Christian fellowship is something I value very highly with friends. And with friends like this it is a discipline. I discipline myself to not speak with condescending assumptions. I don’t ask how could you possibly think that? When he says something that is foolishness to me, I bite my tongue or carefully measure my words, out of love.
Unity in the Spirit of Christ is infinitely more valuable than unity in politics.
There are a lot of Christians who are mad as hell today. They hate the way you voted yesterday.
Because of that, it is now time for each of us to engage in the discipline of being quiet, of suppressing our urge to speak our little minds. We must put others before ourselves, even if that means shutting up. It’s time for the yard signs to be taken down and the airwaves to be cleared. In the name of Christian unity, give up your freedom of speech for a while, especially the political kind.
Christian unity is a discipline, and it is extraordinarily difficult…
…But it is so much more valuable than how we voted yesterday.
Speak your mind! Have we allowed politics to divide where we should be united? How do we go forward from such a heated election? How do we restore unity with people whose voting choices we hate?