You may have noticed that I have virtually ignored the upcoming election in this space. You’re welcome. I will not be airing my political opinions here—or elsewhere. However, lately as I see my newsfeed flooded with other people’s strong opinions and bitter recriminations, I keep thinking about something that happened many years ago, when Lina was a preschooler.
We were traveling for what used to be called “deputation,” wherein we visited friends and churches in hopes of raising financial support for our missionary career. Along the way, we stopped to visit our college friends Rick and Dawne, whose son was Lina’s age (4). One afternoon, the kids got apples for snacks, and Lina watched as Dawne cut the apples up.
Lina: “That’s not the way MY mom cuts apples.”
Dawne: “Oh? How does your mom cut them?”
Lina: “The RIGHT way!”
Fortunately Dawne thought it was hilarious. And we had to explain to Lina that there was more than one way to cut up apples!
What concerns me at the moment is that so many devout Christians are yelling all over Facebook and other social media that their take on this election is the “right” one, and that anyone who disagrees is not only stupid, but also a bad Christian. How did we, as Christians, get to this point where we can’t disagree with someone respectfully, even if he or she is a brother or sister in Christ? Why do we judge their commitment as Christians based on how closely their political views mirror our own? I can’t tell you how this grieves me.
Imagine what this looks like to the older, more seasoned civilizations in Europe and elsewhere. We Americans must look like a bunch of unruly children brawling in the grocery store, while all the adult onlookers roll their eyes and wish someone had the guts to smack the kids into submission.
What I wish people could do is to recognize the one common concern we all have: we want the best for our country. We may disagree on how to achieve that, or even what that would look like, but I honestly believe that all of us, no matter where we are on the political spectrum, want the best for our nation. Why can’t we accept that? No matter what your political views are, surely you can see that those who disagree with you are not hoping to see our country go down in flames, any more than you are.
My high school government teacher used say, “Democracy is messy.” That is supposed to be one of the strengths of our political system. Everybody gets a say, even if you think their opinion is stupid or misguided or even evil. And, in the end, the majority opinion is the one that wins, even if you think it is a disaster. (And of course, it really could be a disaster!) That’s how the system works.
What worries me is that no matter how the election turns out, there will be finger-pointing and recriminations both inside and outside the Christian community. One of my cousins has said he doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to tell anyone how he voted this year. Christians will accuse other Christians of “wasting” their votes, of contributing to catastrophe. Friendships will end. (I think some have already.) People will leave their churches—or be forced out. And a certain supernatural being will be filled with glee—but it won’t be God.