If you support any other candidate…you are my friend.
Whatever your political perspective, I can call you friend.
When you present your perspectives and arguments (whether I agree with them or not) with thoughtfulness and integrity, then you have won my respect and my listening ear. And in doing so our friendship grows because we can understand each other better.
But when your communications (whether we agree or not) are filled with unfair, untrue, and unkind words — shallow memes, name-calling, demonization of others, dubious “facts” and more — you are still loved, but you have probably lost some portion of my respect and your words become like white noise in the background.
And for those who claim the name of Christ as part of your identity…when you do such things you have compromised your witness, your testimony, and your opportunity for meaningful dialogue.
When your mission is to win at all costs…you have already lost.
Reaction from Readers
From JB — “Is racism a perspective? I’m not sure that ever wins respect or a listening ear with me. Solid post otherwise, but wondering if there are red line topics?”
My response to JB — “That’s a good point, Jeremy. Yes, I do suppose that there are some red lines for which it would be very difficult to maintain even a sliver of respect or desire to listen — racism, human trafficking, pedophilia would be a few examples, perhaps. These are not the things I was thinking of as I was writing the post and I’m not sure I would include them in thinking on perspective. When I was thinking of political perspectives I had in mind issues for which there tends to be two or more “valid” political perspectives, thoughts, or ways of approaching certain issues. I’m going to think about this a bit more….thank you for this question and input. It’s important.”
From ASG — “I agree with every word!”
My response to ASG — “Thanks!”
From JMB –– “Thank you for saying it so well! I have been greatly troubled watching friends who say they are Christians and then show an entirely different “face” on Facebook. It is one thing to speak up or out against things for which you do not agree or try to change social injustices. It is yet another to spread lies, gossip and hatred through memes (probably made in Russia or elsewhere) which divide us as a nation, family and our friends. I was unfriended by a believer because I called them out on it. We had been real friends for thirty years. While it hurts deeply that someone would put political posts and opinions over a friendship, after watching “The Social Dilemma” I totally get how they can be misled and confused in these crazy times and I forgive them for that.
My response to JMB — “Sorry you had to deal with that situation, but I so appreciate your forgiveness response. It’s not easy….”
What if I told you I voted for Trump? What if I told you I voted for Biden? Or, what if I told you I didn’t vote for either? Would your opinion of me change based on this information, even in light of whatever your previous opinion of me might have been?
Would you simply assume that I was “that” sort of person…or would you want to know my reasons for my choice?
It’s so easy demonize the faceless “Trumper” or the unseen Biden backer, but what about when people we love have differing views and ways of coming to political decisions? Do we have space for that? Is there room room enough for this sort of grace in our relationships?
Or are we willing to sacrifice friendships and family for the sake of political partisanship, imperfect platforms, and less-than-Christlike candidates?
What does love require of us in the political realm?
What does a Christlike approach to politics look like?
I don’t know all the answers, but I suspect it involves a great deal more grace, sacrifice, and surrender than we might realize.
Reaction from readers:
From RCH — “Excellent article. People r much more important than politics. We have friends and relatives extreme on both sides and we have learned from all of them cause we listen. No arguing involved.”
My response to RCH — “Listening is an important skill to practice…”
From KB — “Honestly? I would silently judge you. Intentionally set that aside and then choose to be gracious towards you. I mean honestly, we question anyone who doesn’t agree with us. The question is if we can love them and be gracious anyway.”
My response to KB — “Sure, you are right. There is certainly some internal reaction with every decision we see people make. I’m not sure there is any way to avoid that completely, or to train ourselves otherwise, except perhaps to be completely apathetic to every facet of life on earth. Like you said, though, outward behavior in response to these internal reactions is in our hands; the result on conscious, controllable decisions to act one way or another. And, perhaps we might add, the observable fruit of these conscious decisions are part of the Spirits work in our lives.”
From TKT — “Needed to read this. Thank you.”
My response to TKT — “I needed to write it…thank YOU.”
From JMB — “I have found these times to be quite trying in some cases. While I have friends (and family) who purport to be Christians on the outside, I see another side to them in what they post on their facebook pages, particularly in memes which are rude, crude, mean and hateful. I was unfriended by someone I have known for 30 years (from our church family) because I openly opposed a meme as such, which I knew to be a false statement, and said so. It was a sad time for me that anyone would put a politician or political views, which seem to change every four years anyway, before a lifelong friendship, but it happens.
I think sometimes, they unfriend or block as a quick “shut the door” or “hang up the phone” effort to stifle anyone who speaks against their beliefs and once it is done, it’s permanent. There are, in fact, many ways to stop someone from commenting if you don’t like what they have to say. Social media has thrust us into a whole new realm of morals and values which we are still learning. I have moved on and for some in the same category, I now just scroll on by. I have found that no amount of truth can change someone else’s thinking. They have to find the truth themselves and it’s not always easy to find, because we all get caught up in the shiny, bright things of this world and the velvet words of a politician.
Thankfully, I still have some friends who openly disagree with me, but we have wonderful deep conversations of which we both learn new things about it. I guess that is what being adults, and being kind, compassionate and Christlike is all about! Thanks for your words S.E. You are always making a good point of life today!
From DD — “Political choices do have ramifications. Particularly on people that are not ‘like’ you. So yes it is very important to me how my community vote in this election. In times like these, it is huge reflection to character and values. I cannot in good faith turn a blind eye to the administration while people of color suffer, people of different faiths suffer, people of different sexual orientation, or people of different economic statuses.
I get triggered with this idea that people say God is in control regardless of results. For believers, didn’t God give everyone the power of choice? Don’t your choices have ramifications? Yes, go and vote like your life depends on it, bc actually people’s lives do depend on it.
My response to DD — “I agree D, the vote matters greatly and ought to undertaken with great humility and taking into deep consideration the need and situation of the greater population — not just my own little world and what is best for me. I also see how that the further we alienate ourselves from those with other perspectives (held with integrity even though we may disagree) the wider the division grows and the more the country is fractured, torn, and broken. It cannot continue…the breaking off of relationships is not the path of healing.
I have never been one to believe that God determines, or directly controls the outcomes of, things such as elections. I have never proclaimed any President to be “God’s choice.” As you said, the choice is ours, as a nation. God moves, at least in part, through Gods people, which is why maintaining relationships is so important. Little gets accomplished when politics turn into shouting matches or when the issues remain politely unspoken. But when respectful conversations take place, when room is made for differences of opinion, then changes of thoughts and attitudes can, and will, take place.”