Stop the Crazy!

I decided my last post wasn’t controversial enough, so I thought I would spice things up this week.

(Just kidding by the way. My last post was my most visited, most commented and shared post since I started this BLOG. Thank you to everyone on both sides of the issue who weighed in. If you missed it, click here for the full post)

There is something about election season that makes me want to bury my head in the sand and not come up for air until mid November. I am embarrassed by the behavior, rhetoric, and tactics that both political parties use. I watched part of the Presidential debate last week and was pretty sure they were going to lower a cage from the ceiling and just have an MMA fight right then and there. (Which would have been amazing by the way…)

Nonsense issues are latched onto because they give traction, not because they are important. Romney talks about the death of the Libyan Ambassador as if President Obama pulled the trigger himself. President Obama talks about Romney’s bank accounts as if he were laundering money for the mob. Neither issue has anything to do with the larger direction of our nation, or their opponents ability to lead said nation.

Simplifying issues wins voters, and raises money.  Campaigns have no incentive to have nuanced views because nuance creates room for accusation, and doesn’t motivate people to action. Discussing the guts of economic policy bores people. Calling your opponent a Communist or a Tax-Evader, that gets the blood pumping.

We have been inundated with the philosophy that our political decisions are black and white, right or wrong, good or evil. The issues are framed in one-sentence statements that have been screened, tested, and intentionally honed to extract the most venom from the hearer. They are shaped specifically to be divisive. The result has been not just annoying advertisements, but division among people.

(My friend Sarah Cunningham recently posted about about Negative Advertising and how we can respond at her BLOG:

Political discussion and contemplation has given way to name calling and oversimplification of difficult issues. We are conditioned to think that if the “other side” (whoever that is for you) wins, life as we know it will cease to exist, the apocalypse will happen, and the political equivalent of Pee Wee Herman will run our nation into the ground.

As followers of Christ, this division has the potential to take us off of the track of our larger mission. Of course who you vote for matters, but in this day where endorsing a candidate has gone from a simple sign in the front yard to heated and often ridiculous Facebook posts, we need to bear in mind that there are thoughtful, caring, and genuinely good people, who love God and love Jesus who will vote for both parties in two weeks.

I have seen signs (that are Pro-Romney) that proclaim: vote Biblically. Interesting philosophy since the Biblical form of government seems to be a Monarchy. But that’s another discussion for another day. But I don’t care for the signs because they are an oversimplification and they assume that everyone who loves God will make the same choice.

Last week, I was at a lecture by Dr. Amy Black. Dr. Black is the chair of the department of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton College. She recently published a book titled: Honoring God in Red or Blue. I am about halfway through the book, but I highly recommend it. It is not written with an agenda to bring you to one political view of the other, but rather addresses how do we maintain our love for God and love for people in the midst of these difficult choices. In the book, she says:

“If you find yourself wondering, ‘How can they be true Christians and think that way?’ partisanship has probably gripped your life too strongly. Far too much of contemporary political debate creates implicit expectations that ‘good’ Christians ally with one political party or the other.”

She goes on to quote former Republican Senator John Danforth once said: “The problem is not that Christians are conservative or liberal, but that some are so confident that their position is God’s position that they become dismissive and intolerant toward others and divisive forces in national life.”

In Dr. Black’s lecture on Monday, she read to us a familiar passage of scripture:

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Good stuff right?

Then she read to us the passage before this one:

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

Which list best reflects the political discussions that we see around us? Which best reflects the tone of the last ten political Facebook posts you have read? What reflects your attitude this election cycle towards those you disagree with, whichever side of the aisle they are on?

As we enter the final weeks of this election season, I pray for wisdom. Seriously, Read Dr. Black’s book if you get the chance. It is a call to reason and level-headedness in an arena where the crazy gets the headlines.

I will leave you with instructions that John Wesley gave to a group of people who were about to cast their ballots:

“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them:

1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy:

2. To speak no evil against the person they voted against: And,

3. To Take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”
(John Wesley, Journal Entry, October 6, 1774)

(P.S. Dr. Black’s website is a great resource for processing your political decisions: