After the Vote is Over

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  November 8, 2014

            It is done. The votes have been cast. The people have spoken. There are Christians who are understandably elated at the outcome of Tuesday’s election and there are Christians who are understandably discouraged. Now that we have voted, it is time to really get to work making a positive change for our nation in the name of Jesus Christ.
            The Christian change that is most needed is not a policy change or advocacy for any particular law. It is not a change that will be possible because a particular political party is in leadership. It is not a change that will require costly lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill or in the State House. It is not a change that can be ruled by any elected Judge or passed by a County Commissioner. It is a change that must begin with the person reading these words right now.
            Democracy is a tricky form of government. It evokes passionate perspectives and elicits the best and worst in people. Because of vastly diverse political opinions, even the most devout Christians have succumb absolutely unchristian and disgracefully degrading behavior. In this election alone, people have spread lies, intentional distortions, insulting rhetoric, and smear campaigns that lump whole groups of people in to subhuman and pathologically vile categories based solely on broad and highly distorted negative characterizations.
            It is one thing to attack a candidate or political platforms, but there are cases of abuse, discrimination, and outright hatred being directed toward individuals and that betray Christian ethics. Even young children have been the victims of vicious schoolyard bullying because of the political candidacy or positions of the child’s parent.
            In most cases, the partisan causes turn from one election and quickly gear up for the next. With the language of war and conquest, Americans are pitted against Americans and Christians divide against Christians. Loyalty to the partisan or religious tribe becomes paramount and bitter factions prepare for political battle against opposing forces.
            This is a pattern that must change. Our nation thrives on diversity and has excelled from the blessing of free thought, free expression of religious values, and free speech. The reality that we will disagree on matters of policy and law is inevitable. When that disagreement spills over into hatred, or has been so prevalent in recent election cycles, hatred of individuals for their political believes, it is destructive.
            It is one thing to disagree with the political policies of an elected leader. It is a whole different thing to allow that disagreement to become hate or to seek the destruction of that official’s capacity to lead. It is one thing to foster healthy dialogue with those that view the world differently. It is another thing to disagree to the point of hating them, bullying their children, or plotting for their personal destruction.
            Jesus Christ challenged this very reality in Matthew 15 when he called the faithful to account for the inward thoughts of the heart. The words of hatred and vile contempt that are used in our political conversations speak volumes. The question is, given the tone of our own political attitudes and our attitude toward those with whom we most agree, how much authentic Christianity are we speaking?
            The time for change is now! Christians can really make an impact on American Democracy that honors both Christ and the nation that we all love so dearly. We may not always agree, but if we are unwilling to speak to one another—and speak about one another—in Christian love, it is Christ that we betray and our whole nation that loses.