Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series.
Let’s face it. Political discourse has devolved into a culture of perpetual outrage. Instead of engaging in spirited, but civil debate, Americans have become so divided that many of us have begun to view those with whom we disagree as evil monsters Hell bent on destroying our country. You only need to read the comments section on any political blog or website to understand what I’m talking about.
Political discourse has ended friendships, driven wedges between family members, and even broken up marriages. Yes, we see much of the vitriol coming from the left — since they control most of the major media outlets. But let’s not kid ourselves – conservatives are engaging in this behavior too.
For Christians, politics has always been an odd subject. How do we discuss politics with others without it turning into a fight? Even more than that, how do we change people’s minds? After all, you can’t expect to influence someone if you’re yelling at them, right?
I believe there is a better way – and while this article is addressed to Christians, anyone of any religious persuasion can benefit from these biblical principles to engage in meaningful conversations that don’t end with a bloody fistfight.
I’ll tell you up front that following these principles isn’t easy. I’ve broken some of them myself, but I do believe that, for those who want more productive political conversations, they are invaluable.
Watch What You Say, and How You Say It
“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
If you want to take a Christian approach to engaging in political discourse, this is one of the most challenging components. Our political climate is full of mudslinging, personal attacks, and unfair accusations. Yet, if we are to approach these interactions biblically, we must be careful in how we conduct ourselves.
I’ll admit it. I love sarcasm. If you have read anything I’ve written, you’ll know that I’m no stranger to the art of snark. However, I do try to keep my remarks within certain boundaries.
I have a rule.
I relentlessly attack bad arguments. I go after evil ideas with vigor. But I try to avoid personal attacks. Why? Because it is not the way Christ teaches us to behave, and it is not effective.
Don’t believe me? When was the last time you changed someone’s mind by calling them names? Has anyone ever become a conservative because someone called them a “libtard?” I’ll go even further. Didn’t Hillary Clinton use this tactic during the election when she called half of Trump’s supporters “deplorable?” You saw how well that worked out for her, right?
We can’t influence people if we’re too busy launching vicious insults. Look at what happened to the left. How many conservatives did they create by telling them they were hateful bigots if they didn’t agree with their ideology?
Yes, Trump regularly uses personal attacks – and he is wrong to do so – but there is a distinct difference: he doesn’t attack whole groups of people on a regular basis. Moreover, he attacks individuals because of his ego – not because he thinks he can manipulate these people into supporting him. Many Americans have supported Trump because they were repulsed by the left’s attempts to shame them into complying with leftist ideology.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” This verse teaches us that our words carry weight. This is why it is essential that we are careful with how we use our words.
If we use our words to attack, we must make sure we are attacking the right target. Let’s go after bad ideas, not the people who have been deceived by them. Let’s not make the same mistakes as the left.
Keep Calm and Stay with the Facts
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
Americans are angry. Our political climate is tense. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we do not allow our anger to have an undue influence on our conversations.
Sometimes anger can be useful. However, most of us don’t often channel these feelings in a way that is effective – therefore, it’s a good idea to slow down and measure our words carefully, especially when on social media.
One of the best ways to prevent anger from dominating your arguments is to remember that the people with whom you disagree are not monsters. In most cases, you are interacting with people who genuinely want America to do better – but they have bought into bad ideas.
It’s easy just to assume that the majority of leftists want to burn this country down and then rebuild it into a Stalinesque utopia. Indeed, there are some on the left who do want this. But do you really think that most people on the left are looking to build an oppressive communist society? If so, then don’t complain when leftists claim that conservatives want to maintain a society in which whites are dominant, blacks are back in chains, homosexuality is outlawed, and TV stations are only allowed to play reruns of The Andy Griffith Show.
(Before you ask, I have nothing against the Andy Griffith Show)
This does not mean we should be naive. In our political discourse, there are nefarious people espousing evil ideas to achieve terrible ends, but we must be able to discern the deceivers from the deceived.
Can Christians Engage in Political Discourse in a Biblical Way?
I understand that it can seem impossible for any American to engage in political conversations in the current climate without them devolving into nasty rhetoric. For Christians, it can seem even more difficult. Individuals on both sides would consider our approach to be foolish or weak. Indeed, refusing to attack your political opponents with insults and hateful rhetoric can seem foolhardy – especially if they are not holding themselves to the same standard.
It is important to understand that using aggressive language is not wrong – when it’s directed at the right target. Remember, you won’t persuade anyone if you’re too busy attacking them. It is already hard enough to change minds – but handling your conversations the right way will make it less difficult.Feel free to comment below. And remember to check out the web’s best conservative news aggregator Whatfinger.com