Part 2- The Political...
In thinking about living peaceably with all men, I can't help but think of politics. Should you or shouldn't you talk about it. I have a different take on some political issues from a lot of folks I agree with completely on scripture, so should I especially keep my mouth shut on politics? I am constantly asking myself if I have a valid question or if I’m just going to be considered as one trying to stir up trouble and controversy with my hair-brained rationalization (or constantly re-examining to come to some kind of conclusion, however you want to look at it).
If someone tells you you’re sinning for voting a particular way, do you take that suffering patiently and don’t say anything or do you talk about it to try and understand the issue? Is talking about these differences divisiveness or is this a desire to find out the truth? Or is not talking about them the Biblical thing to do since talking about them could cause arguments and division? Am I trying to serve myself and rationalize my position or am I wrong and need to change?
I would argue that you can’t ignore these things, whether you verbally discuss them or not.
The political debates are always under the surface. There is kind of an atmosphere in the church of don’t ask, don’t tell with regards to one’s political persuasion. I have always wondered if this is to keep the peace or are people afraid of being accused of voting the wrong way. You always hear the little jokes or digs at liberals (or conservatives, though this isn’t my experience) from the pulpit or afterwards. Behind the jokes, though, are certain beliefs that I think need to be talked about out in the open, rather than left to the imagination and beating around the bush. Just the way a southern preacher drawls out the word liberal can be accusatory rather than descriptive. If you mean taking liberties with scriptures, this is against God, certainly, but being liberal politically shouldn't be cause for derision.
I don't like don’t ask, don’t tell. It is either sinful to vote democrat or it isn’t. If it is, something needs to happen- take those steps to try and bring the person back. If it isn’t, the implications of sin, the beating around the bush need to stop. Perhaps I am wrong to demand this. Perhaps I should keep quiet so as not to offend anyone. I certainly don’t want to offend. But I also want to find the truth.
I think about these things all the time. Things like- are you sinning if you don’t necessarily think one must support a law banning a particular sin (abortion, gay marriage) in order to not be “approving those who practice them” (Rom 1:28-32)? Are you ranking sin (or if laws banning sin are good, wouldn't it be "knowing to do good and not doing it" as in James?) if you are for laws against two sins, but aren't for laws banning others? Are those who say voting democrat is sinful like those who preached you must be circumcised to be a Christian? Are those who say voting democrat isn't a sin just letting their politics get in the way of being a Christian (i.e. they aren't a Christian in the voting booth)? I personally don't think this issue is as cut and dried as: vote democrat=sin; vote Republican or for candidate that is for abortion and gay marriage= obedience to God. Probably why I think about it so much. That or I'm just a divisive person who loves conflict. And a communist liberal to boot. Ouch. (Kidding!)
Is it divisive to bring these things up and discuss them? I always thought it preferable to talk about it so that you can get it out in the open and get over it, rather than keeping it under the surface, ready to boil over. I like getting everyone’s input and discussing why you think your position is supported by scripture and the other isn’t or discussing what is exactly covered by scripture and what is your own judgment or opinion. Are we binding things that the Bible doesn't? Are we too permissive where the Bible isn't? We have to ask ourselves both questions. Too often, depending on your politics or experience, we only ask ourselves one of these questions and overcompensate- in a car, this will make you wreck.
I also see how this could be seen as divisive since everyone has rather passionate opinions about politics and this is one of those subjects that is considered impolite to talk about. I wonder if it is better to not talk about it in the interest of unity if you know people disagree with you politically and think your positions are not scripturally sound. Is that really unity, though? On the surface, maybe. How do you know unless you talk about it?
Maybe it is the way in which we talk about it that makes the difference? I think we have to assess whether we just want to rationalize, prove ourselves right and get people on “our side” or if we are looking for the truth. If both people are looking for the truth, then we have something in common already and we should be able to be in harmony even if we don’t agree.