Walking a Dangerous Line: When Talking about Politics Becomes a Bloodbath and How Christians are Contributing to the Carnage.

Well, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve written in this space, and since I last wrote a lot has changed – not only in my personal life but in the world. 

I took a job at a wonderful counseling agency here in town, had another baby, moved into a new house, quit my job at the counseling agency so that I could stay home with my kids right before a mandatory quarantine (talk about timing), and began walking through a global pandemic with the rest of the world. As we all know, the almost-nine months of 2020 have already felt like 9 years, and there’s no need for me to remind anyone about it.  

So, why, of all times, have I decided to write on here again? Well, first off, I’m no longer employed and my kids just started going back to Mother’s Day Out, so, naturally, I have a little more time on my hands. Secondly, I’ve almost written several mini-Instagram posts on this topic over the past 8 years, and today just feels like the time to officially put my thoughts and concerns out there. 

Photo by Joseph Chan

Before I jump in, let me preface this by saying this post is strictly for Christians. It’s for people who have a deep faith and hope in Jesus on both a head and a heart level. It’s for people who have come face-to-face with their own depravity, imperfections, and inability to always do the “right thing” both internally and externally and have also realized that there is nothing they can do to “fix themselves.” In response, these people have realized that they desperately need the remedy that only God can offer – the act of Jesus dying on the cross to redeem them from their sins and imperfections so that they might be able to have a relationship with a perfect God. A relationship that is both hard and beautiful. 

Again, this post is for Christians – these people who should understand how broken they truly are and who should rejoice in the grace (unmerited favor) they have been given. It’s for these people who should know that perfection on this earth is utterly impossible to achieve, that the world isn’t the way it should be, and that know that their hope isn’t found here. It’s found in Jesus. 

So, if you are one of these people – if you are a Christian – I’m writing to you. And please know I’m writing with the sincerest of hearts – not out of a place of judgment – but out of a place of concern and love. I want to be your friend. I want to do the good works that we have been called to do together (Ephesians 2:10). I want to spur you on – and I want to be spurred on by you. I am just deeply troubled, and I feel as though I need to say something. 

So, here you go. Please don’t hate me. (Or at least talk to me about it, if you do.)

Christians, I think we are walking a dangerous line. 

I’m not talking about a dangerous line in wearing yoga pants or spaghetti straps. I’m talking about an even more dangerous line. (Hopefully, you picked up on my joke here.)

It’s the line of talking politics. Or more specifically – it’s the line of talking politics in a way that never gives thought to the potential consequences of the words we are choosing to use and the tone we are seeking to convey. It’s talking about politics without hesitation and in a way that is disconnected from our primary purpose and identity – our identity as Christ followers who were created to worship and glorify God. 

As Christians we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15 &16), we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), we are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), we are regularly encouraged to stand up for the widow, orphan and poor/those most vulnerable around us (Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27, Micah 6:8), we are called to do “nothing from rivalry or conceit,” but to humbly “count others as more significant than [our]selves” (Philippians 2:3), we are encouraged to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), we are called and encouraged to be and do a lot of things, but why? Why does God ultimately want us to follow him and to worship Him?

Because when we display who God is for other people – when we allow the Spirit of God to transform our lives so that we look more like Christ – we glorify God. And when we glorify God, people are drawn to worship God and follow Jesus themselves (Matthew 5:16). And that is the command Jesus gave us – that we might go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). And when we are making disciples, the world is changed, not only in America, but world-wide. And not only while we are here on earth, but for eternity. 

So the question on the table is this: Are we doing this?

When we are engaging with others about political things, are we focused on our primary purpose, or are we focused on something else? Is our primary purpose to continually point out our own brokenness and our desperate need of a Savior, so that others might also come to know the true rest and restoration found in a hope set on Jesus or is our purpose to get others to vote for the political candidate we like? Are we helping people see that Jesus is the only one who saves, or are we presenting all of our arguments on why one particular party should be trusted to save our nation? Are we seeking to make peace with others, or are we seeking to get a thrill out of arguing? Are we trying to display all that we know, or are we humbly seeking to understand both sides? 

Please hear me, I’m not saying talking politics is wrong. I understand that talking about politics should have a place in the public square if we want to all become informed and active citizens of the country we live in. I understand that talking about politicians and processing what they have done or what they hope to do can be intriguing. I even know that analyzing policy and how it’s affected America can be fun at times. And I believe it’s important. 

My point is, if you’re a Christian, you should be extra cautious in how you talk – or type – about these things. 

At the end of Colossians, Paul writes this:

“Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

– Paul to the church at Colossae (Colossians 4:5-6)

If you are publicly proclaiming yourself to be a Christian, then you are publicly proclaiming that you follow Jesus. And that’s a REALLY big deal. If we as Christians believe that a person coming to know Jesus is the deciding factor between eternal life or death – then being a Christian in the social square of social media has MAJOR implications for people’s lives.

If you are a Christian, how you talk or type has the potential to either push people towards the beauty of Jesus or to do the opposite. It either communicates compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love for others (all things Paul calls Christians to possess in Colossians 3:12-14) or it doesn’t. It either communicates that you believe every living person has value because God created them with it, or it doesn’t. It either communicates a desire to understand the other side or it communicates pride and arrogance. 

I understand that we are called to speak truthfully, and many of us feel as though that’s what we are doing. We feel as though we are standing up for the unborn, we are standing up for women’s rights, we are standing up for the preservation of history, and we are standing up for those being mistreated by systems, laws and others because of the color of their skin. And we feel as though we have to yell the truth from the top of a building in order for everyone to hear – but if we aren’t doing it in love, then it’s just going to add to the noise (1 Corinthians 13:1). It’s just going to contribute to the bloodbath of political talk in America. We are just going to add to the carnage, instead of being a remedy to it. 

How we talk about things matters. Our words could have an eternal impact. Please…from one Christian to another, can we please be careful?

Again, I am not coming from a place of judgement. I have engaged in political conversations in ways that probably weren’t beneficial. I have gotten irritated and quickly remarked on someone’s post without taking a step back to reflect if my post was in line with my primary purpose. And I have regretted it every single time. 

Please know that I know I’m not all-wise. I have so much to learn from all of you. In fact, I have learned a lot from what some of you have posted, and I am thankful that you care about the issues that you care about. But from where I’m sitting, we, as Christians, have to start doing something differently. We need to assess how we are talking about politics online and we need to strive to do so in a manner that demonstrates the grace, love and humility of Jesus every step of the way. 

Some Examples/Observations:

Being a Christian who cares about the souls of humanity and who is interested in politics can be hard. It’s oftentimes difficult to navigate the choppy waters of when to speak up and when to remain silent. I don’t have all of the answers, and I oftentimes find myself questioning whether or not I should engage in politics online at all. But, over the past 8 years, I’ve picked up on some things that might be important for us to know as we seek to engage in political discussions on social media, if one chooses to do so:

Picture taken in 2018 to document my
feelings after voting in an election.
  • First – and potentially most importantly – even if your intended “target audience” is Christians, they are not your only audience. You are on social media, your audience is probably more diverse than you think. This should make us extra cautious about what we say. (Remember Colossians 4:5-6.) 
  • If we are standing up for life in the womb or if we are standing up for humans out of the womb we have to examine why. If our answer is because we believe all humans – in the womb or out – have value and dignity because God created them, then we can’t talk to people or talk about people (be it the other party or a political candidate) like they don’t. It’s not logical to do so. Rudeness is rooted in the belief that some people aren’t worthy of receiving love and respect – that they lack in value. It goes against the idea that all men and women were created as image-bearers. If we are truly “pro-life from the womb to the tomb,” then there isn’t any place for belittling others – no matter how much we dislike them. (James 3:7-10 could be helpful here.)
  • Christians arguing about the sin of other people has rarely – if ever – been attractive to someone who doesn’t know Jesus. In fact, I would make the argument that a lot of people have run from the Church because they felt as though that’s all the Church wanted to do. 
  • Praising politicians or parties regularly, consistently and whole-heartedly can easily come across as worship – and when both politicians and both parties are incredibly imperfect I think we should question if they deserve the amount of devotion we are giving them. Is it communicating that Jesus saves or is it communicating that our chosen party or politician saves?
  • The most “just” person to ever walk this planet was – and always will be – Jesus Christ. If we aren’t seeking to mimic him in the way we treat people – especially people who have a different worldview than we do – then we should question if we are doing things properly. Are we having compassion on the woman in adultery, or are we casting the first stone (John 8)?
  • I know topics such as systemic racism and sexual assault are worthy of discussion. Analyzing whether or not change needs to happen and how it needs to happen is both complex and important for the growth of a country, BUT because these topics are especially sensitive and historically complicated, we need to tread with caution. I only truly know what it is like to be me, and you only truly know what it is like to be you. We only know what it is like to be a person of color if we are one, and we only know what it is like to have been sexually assaulted or to have been wrongfully accused of sexual assault if we were. I’m not saying this should completely silence people who don’t fit into those categories, but it should add a level of humility to any conversation we are seeking to have about the people who do. Is what you are saying going to invalidate the real experiences of people who have walked through trauma or loss? Is it going to invalidate potential truths that you don’t know about? Are you all-knowing? Are you all-understanding? Is what you are saying compassionate, loving and kind or is it blunt, hostile and arrogant? 
  • If you are posting memes that are calling Republicans “Nazis” and Democrats “lazy socialists”, you are helping to contribute to the political divide that we see happening all around us. Memes can be funny, but they lack nuance, typically over generalize, cause hurt more than they cause understanding, and they continually group people into Groupthink camps that people might not deserve to be grouped into. To raise your voice against stereotyping and then post a meme that stereotypes, could make you come across as either blindly biased or hypocritical. And if people think you are blindly biased or hypocritical, they probably won’t trust you when you are trying to convince them that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
  • Typically, someone chooses to be pro-democratic socialism, pro-capitalism, or anywhere in between because they think it’s going to be best for Americans over the long-run. Getting defensive and assuming that a person lands where they land because they are “an idiot” or they are “selfish” isn’t going to promote good conversation. If you are confused on how someone could land where they land, ask them good questions. Sure, some people may not really know what they are talking about, or maybe they haven’t spent the amount of time required to truly understand the policy behind Capitalism/Democratic Socialism or the potential consequences of Democratic Socialism/Capitalism, but the desire to “do good,” is probably an underlying motive – and hopefully some common ground can be found there. (Proverbs 15:28 or Proverbs 17:27-28 could be helpful on this front.)
  • Christians who are voting for Biden are voting for a pro-choice ticket, even though they may not consider themselves to be pro-killing babies. Christians who are voting for Trump are supporting a president who decreased the number of refugees we allow into the United States, even though they may not consider themselves to be “for” keeping men, women and children in life-threatening or certain-death situations. If you dig into conversations with both of these people, you’ll find that they believe the topic is “complicated” and they have landed where they have based upon a wide variety of issues and historical facts. It’s okay and healthy to disagree with people, but if you aren’t willing to actually listen to someone because you disagree with them, then how willing are you going to be to actually listen to someone who doesn’t believe in your God? If you call people names and/or condemn them to hell because their views are different than your own, do you actually think people will want to listen to you when you talk about your God being gracious and good? 
  • Speaking of complicated, The United States of America is not mentioned in the Bible and Jesus didn’t live in a democracy. In fact, God first ordained Judges as the way to govern His people, and then allowed the Israelites to have kings after they were dissatisfied with His first choice. Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about voting. It does supply us with the attributes of God, it does allow us to get a glimpse of Jesus and his character, it does show us good models for how to operate as a Church, and the Bible does consist of commands given to the Israelites, historical people, and the early church that we are to take into account today, but it doesn’t tell us which party to vote for. We can use these things to help us determine which party to vote for, but the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly – so should we act like it does? 

Ultimately, if we believe we are recipients of the most outrageous display of love and grace ever – Jesus dying on the cross for the sin and imperfections we deserved/deserve to die for – then we should have continual grace and humility towards other people. We aren’t perfect, and neither are they. We aren’t all-knowing, and neither are they. We are just humans, made by a perfect God, who are trying to figure out how to live in an imperfect world. 

Our words matter. We can’t change that. 

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

– Paul to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 4:29-32)

May we talk to people in a way that highlights the character of Jesus. I love you, friends. 

5 thoughts on “Walking a Dangerous Line: When Talking about Politics Becomes a Bloodbath and How Christians are Contributing to the Carnage.

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