Part 3 of 3 – The Imperative of Maintaining a Proper Christian Testimony in our Political Discourse

This post is the 3rd in a 3 part series:

Part 3 – The Imperative of Maintaining a Proper Christian Testimony in our Political Discourse

We’ve established that, as Christians, we have a responsibility to be engaged in the political process.

We have also been reminded of the importance to use the Bible as our source of authority in all situations – including what our society often deems “political issues”.

However, this may lead us to an uncomfortable place. Simply scan your Facebook stream and you’ll find plenty of well-meaning Christians offering less than edifying political commentary.  And before anyone points it out, yes, I’ve been that guy on occasion.  Next time, you can call me out on it.

I’d like to make two observations regarding the typical tenor of the political debate, even amongst Christians.

First, from a pragmatic perspective, we don’t actually change peoples mind by engaging in the typical cable news style political discussion.  Are we trying to win the argument or win the war?  We may well be right about the issue at hand, but will the vitriol convince anyone else that we are right?  Probably not.

If you’re going to engage someone about a topic, seek to change their opinion – over time, not win the argument.  Angering someone on the other side of an issue will only harden their position, not bring them to your point of view.

Typical reaction when someone insults your political party. Used by permission – click for full credit

I think all of us wish to persuade others to our various points of view, whether it’s to support your favorite sports team, vote for a particular politician, or agree with you about who has the best BBQ.  After all, it’s human nature to want others to agree with us.  So then why do we so quickly employ the yelling, sarcasm, and snark?  Quite simply, this doesn’t make sense.

Let’s keep the focus on actually persuading, instead of auditioning for CNN.

Second, and much more importantly, the Bible has much to say about our speech.  Perhaps one of the clearest, most concise commands is in Col. 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt…”  This applies even when we’re talking politics!  And just a chapter earlier, “You must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (Col. 3:8)

No matter the topic, we must always strive to have our speech point others to Christ – both in substance and in style.  When this becomes difficult, we would do well to remind ourselves of Luke 6:45, that “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Sinful speech starts with sin in the heart.

Let’s keep the focus on actually pointing people to Christ through the way we communicate with one another, instead of just trying to get our point across.  (For more on this topic, Russell Moore’s sermon on Crucifying your Outrage is well worth your time.)

With those two goals in mind, how much of our personal political discourse is based on *either* of these?  Most often, it seems to be based on something totally different – a desire to vent – an attempt to stake our our identity – perhaps even to mock those who disagree with us.  As with many things, much of our problem comes down to our motivation!

But, as I said yesterday, I do not believe that the antidote is for us to remain silent and tacitly cede the Bible’s authority on one issue after another.  Rather, we must crucify our anger and animosity towards those whom we disagree with, and still engage in the discussion with a spirit of kindness and of love… Love for our neighbor, love for our country, and love for our Savior.

– Jeremy

P.S. It may be time for all of us to put this exhortation to the test… next up, thoughts on the presidential race :)

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