When I turned 18, one of the very first things I did was register to vote. I remember being so proud to have the opportunity to help decide who got to sit in the Oval Office behind that big desk. Me! Of all people! And I did nothing to earn it except make my appearance into the world on American soil.
If you know me, you’ll know that I cry during the national anthem; I can’t quite finish a sentence about 9/11 because of the lump forming in my throat. I’m the first one you’d call when it comes to American History, and you’ve probably gotten unsolicited fun facts about our history many times. I cried when I saw the Declaration of Independence – in PERSON!!! And I am so passionate about our beautiful democracy that I think I really do bleed red, white, and blue.
If some of those things apply to you too, I want to ask you some bigger questions: Do you get misty-eyed when you talk about Jesus? Do you hate injustice as much as you love your political party? Can we be equal part Christian and equal part American?
Expressing your beliefs is hard these days, and I know that we might not align politically. But if no other Christian is going to have this conversation with you… hi, I’m Lindsay – both a Christian and an American – and I volunteer for the job!
Let’s both set aside our differences and look at 3 things we should remember this election season:
1. Slander and libel do not equate to righteous anger.
The things that you write and the words that you speak come from what your heart is full of. That’s biblical.
Social media is not the place you should fight your battles. Disagreements should be discussed with people personally (also biblical!) and away from a platform that removes a person’s humanity. If you wouldn’t say those words to their face — or to the opposing candidate’s face — you should not say them. And if you would say those words, I encourage you to revisit what your heart is full of because it’s not reflecting the heart of Jesus.
Righteous anger can be no better defined than by asking this question: “Is my motive to be right or righteous?” In James 1:19-20 it says, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Anger is okay when there are people suffering or dying from the results of someone’s actions or inactions. The mistreatment of orphans, veterans, the existence of human trafficking, the oppression of people groups, or anyone who hurts animals are just some of the causes that get my blood boiling. That is righteous anger because Christians should hate evil and cruelty, and work to love everyone that Jesus died for.
I can guarantee this: Jesus is much more concerned with the hateful things Christians say and write in the media and on social platforms than He is about the candidates we oppose.
2. Do not use your faith as your platform — or your weapon.
There is nothing that will tarnish your image more to a nonbeliever than Bible-thumping. Just to be clear, I’m not saying throw everything you believe out the window. What I am saying is that while our country was founded on Christian principles, we also have a document that requires us to separate church and state.
It would be unfair to not vote for someone based on what they believed just as it would be unfair to vote for someone based on what they believed.
Here’s our exception: you can measure a person’s ethical nature against your own morality (i.e. – if a presidential candidate wanted to ban all cereals because he/she found them offensive but you eat Captain Crunch every morning because you believe in what eating cereal stands for, your morality disagrees with their ethics and you, therefore, have reason to oppose them.)
The bottom line is God said “love,” “include,” and “listen.” I would be flabbergasted if a presidential candidate ended up on your ballot that believed in every single thing that you believed in. If it’s rare to find that in our personal relationships, how realistic is it to believe that in the voting booth?
If you wholeheartedly love your candidate, I am so happy for you! Way to be passionate about democracy! But please, please do not throw people under the bus of religiosity in order to win your argument. As soon as you do, they’ve already stopped listening to you.
3. How you live your life should glorify God and his agenda more than your own.
Earlier, I asked the question, “Can we be equal part Christian and equal part American?” The simple answer is no. As much as you love your candidate, fellow Christian, you have recognized that Jesus died to save your soul from a fate worse than death and you have decided that your life will be lived reflecting that love for others, so you must come to terms with the fact that you must love your God more than your country, your party, and your ballot.
Coming from someone who loves America so much, I understand that this can be difficult to understand. There is nothing more frustrating than having to relearn how to live your life, but think about it like a stroke victim who has to relearn how to walk, write, speak, and do daily motions. It takes small, repetitive moves in the right direction over time to fix what was broken or misshapen. So it is with your heart.
When someone tells you they hate chocolate and you stare at them in disbelief because you just can’t believe how they could be so wrong and not comprehend what they’re missing, you eventually find grace and live with them in peace. You make exceptions for them when you make dessert or when you buy them gifts. You give them your fruity, sour candies from your Halloween pail. You learn to stop making them feel bad for their preference and you begin to fight FOR them.
So, let their flags fly. Let their rallies or protests happen. Don’t roll your eyes at their shirts and hats. Ask questions and don’t lose your temper.
When you are Christian, you have to be known by Who you’re for, not who you’re against. As someone once taught me, “I am way less concerned with who you vote for than I am with how you treat those who vote differently than you do.”
This election season is almost at its end, but loving people the way Jesus intended us to will never end. My plea for Jesus followers today is that we step out from behind our red and blue yard signs, walk across the street, and shake hands with a neighbor that we disagree with.
You might just find an opportunity to love a friend more than you love to win.
(Another great article in the same vein is from Relevant Magazine. You can find it here!)