Wading through my Facebook posts has all but let me know that it’s that time again – election season. Like Christmas, it seems to creep closer and closer every few years. Politics can be a messy topic. Election season, unlike Christmas, tends to bring out the worst in people. It makes good friends and good people seem petty, mean, and stubborn. I’ve seen the greatest, holiest people reduced to rambling, incoherent Facebook hate posts. Unchecked, our passion for politics can be a threat to our minds and our souls. Worse yet, it can be a threat to the hearts and minds of our young ones. So please, read this not for you – but for our youth.
In our high school ministry, we’ve been focusing on human dignity. We’ve been learning over and over that God can do anything with anybody. From the Mother Teresa’s to the murderers and thieves, God’s ability to make good things happen through unlikely channels holds no bounds. God loves us all equally and absolutely none of us really deserve it. Grace isn’t earned, yet it’s poured out on us with mercy because of God’s inexhaustible love. We, as Christians, are meant to be vehicles of that mercy and love to everyone in all aspects of our lives. In all aspects. That’s the Gospel message! We don’t deserve Heaven but Jesus died for us anyways, so let’s get ourselves and everyone else there by being authentic disciples of Christ.
Guess who has this inherent human dignity? Murderers? Absolutely. Abortion doctors? Yes. The poor and the immigrants? Yup. And the hardest to swallow…the politicians. Yes, even Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump and others are wonderful and beautiful children of God. They deserve love, respect, and our prayers. This isn’t anything new, but take a minute and look at your Facebook feed or bring up politics at a family dinner. For full effect, wait until after a debate or another Benghazi hearing. What’s being said? What’s not being said?
Yes, these candidates have chosen to be in the public arena and they have chosen to have strong opinions about things. No matter how wrong they are, we cannot sacrifice our souls or discount their souls. We are all incredibly flawed and have things we don’t want brought into the public light. We’ve done things that we have brought into the confessional, thrown away, and moved past. These candidates don’t get that luxury. Every piece of dirty laundry is brought into the public confessional – aired out for all to see. And we, the faux priests, don’t dole out love and mercy but instead bring condemnation and judgement. If a priest ever treated us this way, I doubt we’d be back for a second helping. Yet these politicians, as corrupt as we make them out to be, are in public service for the greater good. I honestly doubt any of them are really looking to be President to ensure the downfall of our great nation. There are far easier and sneakier ways to do it. These people are willing to turn their lives and families upside down for a cause they believe in – and that deserves some respect.
Maybe your opinion won’t change, and that’s okay. X candidate will always be the anti-Christ, and Y candidate is the only way to our country’s salvation. However, before you leave, let’s think about the children.
How can we teach about understanding, love, and mercy to our children while we rabidly beat down any opposite leaning opinion or candidate we come across? Fittingly, the year of mercy and the year of election is one in the same. Our youth notice our actions, the good and the bad. They pick up on conversations that we may think are too over their heads. When we so actively judge, condemn, and even hate those who disagree with us, we are not being Christ-like. There is no way around it. When we turn our disagreements from what a candidate said to who they are, we turn what may be righteous and deserved into hate and condemnation. Instead of telling our children to not name call and hit, let’s be examples of this when it’s hardest. Let’s refer to everyone with respect and dignity – despite what they may believe.
Lastly, our salvation cannot be won or lost in the polls. We continue to make these very, very human candidates into much more. They become our political saviors. “Only x or y can save our country from the death spiral it is currently in. Without x, we are completely lost and have no hope.” Hope is not found in a polling booth and salvation is not held in the hands of a particular candidate. We cannot continue to teach our youth that hope is won or lost. Our salvation has been assured for us, no matter who wins or loses. Jesus is Lord, God is good, and the world will continue to turn. Look at all the evil that has been overcome in the world. Bills, political debates, and filibusters do little in the face of evil, unless backed by a popular mandate. We the people stop evil. We the people will be the ones to stop abortion, through prayer, marches, and loving conversations. Sure, a bill will officially end it, but only after we end the desire in the hearts of the people. Does it matter who comes into the United States and how, if in the end we refuse to love those immigrants who are already here? The greatest saints and role models were simple, normal people, not politicians. They were people who took the world by storm with their actions, who loved radically those who were not usually loved. To create saints, we must strive to become saints. We must teach our kids through our actions and our words, our Facebook posts and our dinner conversations.