Recent political events in our country have caused American Christians to become more politically vocal than ever before. The primary avenue for this vocalization has been through social media, as I’m sure you have noticed. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter have become our primary voices – our primary way of communicating with one another – for better and for worse. As I watch approximately 98% of my Facebook friends (A rough, unscientific estimation) post, rant, complain about the political goings on of our nation, some questions came to mind. Here are just a few questions I think Christians should ask themselves before posting about politics (especially controversial issues) on social media:
1. Will this bring about unity or disunity in the body of Christ?
Every single person is entitled to their political beliefs. But when we become Christians, we submit our own preferences and ideas to Christ and we become part of a group of believers called the church. Individualism has no place in Christianity – which is communal in nature and practice. Because this is true, we should consider whether or not our bold statements on social media about politics will unify or divide us from our brothers and sisters in the seats next to us on Sunday morning. You may have a very strong stance on something like immigration – but if a brother in Christ sitting next to you in church is an immigrant – your vocalization of political views may cause disunity. Before you post political things on social media – ask yourself whether or not it will harm your relationship with anyone in your church. Church unity and healthy church relationships should be more important to you than your political preferences.
2. Do I view politics & government as savior and king, or Jesus?
I wrote something on this not too far back called “Well, Here We Are”. Neither the Democratic nor the Republican party, candidate, or platform belong to God. They are human political constructs – not saviors. Though Christians have the freedom and the right to partake in the political discussions in our nation and should be vocal about many things, it is downright wrong and incredibly dangerous to view either party or any political leader as God’s chosen agent in this world. Jesus alone is Savior and King and the church alone is God’s chosen embassy of hope. Before you post your political manifesto on Facebook, examine your heart and determine whom you truly honor as savior and king.
3. Will this help or harm my Christian witness to the world?
You may be right about your political beliefs. In fact, I’m sure you are! But even if you are, there are more important things than being right. I can hear my wife snickering as she reads this – but it is true. Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 8 in a discussion about eating food sacrificed to idols. His point is this: that your relationship with other believers and your witness to unbelievers is more important than being right about something. Sometimes believers are called to tone things down, even if they are technically right about something, in order to maintain healthy relationship with other believers and a strong witness to the non-Christian world. Certainly we should not sacrifice truth for the sake of being “seeker friendly”, but, I hate break it to you, your political preferences most likely do not classify as truth. So ask yourself before you hit “Post” whether or not your post will help or harm your representation of Jesus and his church to the world.
4. Are my political beliefs really as Biblical as I think they are?
Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. You may be totally convinced that they are. But guess what, odds are that there are other Christians who disagree with you and would also use the Bible as their reasoning. Because we don’t have a government built on Scripture, this will always be a reality. It is easy to climb up on our high horse and view ourselves and our political beliefs as more godly, more biblical, or more righteous than the people who disagree with us. If you haven’t, you should closely examine what God’s word really says (or doesn’t say) about something before mounting that horse.
5. Have I really listened to the other side?
I’m not talking about the kind of “listening” that means being quiet just long enough until there is an opening to tell the speaker that they’re wrong. I’m talking about really listening to the heart and beliefs of another person and giving them the utmost respect and kindness – even if they treat you like you are inferior, stupid, or ignorant. Sit quietly and patiently and listen to the thoughts, beliefs, and reasoning of someone who disagrees with you- whether Christian or non-Christian. You don’t have to agree, but you do have to be respectful and I would say that as a Christian, you are even required to pursue healthy relationship with that person regardless of political beliefs.
6. Do I care more about politics than Jesus and his mission?
Like I said a few months ago in a post called “The 2016 Presidential Election and Misplaced Passion”, Christians are certainly entitled to their beliefs and their political preferences just like anyone else. But should American politics be the thing we are most vocal and most passionate about? Definitely not. If our love and passion for politics is greater than our love for Jesus and our passion for his mission then we have a serious heart problem. Most of us are quick to share our political beliefs, but silent about who Jesus really is. We are eager to talk about government, but not about our church. Maybe you should delete the long political rant you are about to post on social media and post something about who God is or what the Bible says or invite someone to church instead.
7. Would Jesus be pleased with my engagement in the political discussion?
This sort of an overarching summary question, but it is worth asking all the same. “Would Jesus be pleased with my…” is a good question to ask about anything in our lives. Would Jesus be pleased with your heart? Your words? The way you treat those who disagree with you? The way you represent Him to the world? There is a healthy way and an unhealthy way for Christians to engage in political dialogue. The healthy way is one that God would be pleased with based on what he has spoken through the Bible. Examine your heart ask yourself if Jesus would be pleased with your engagement in the dialogue of American politics.
What do you think? How should Christians engage in the political discussion? What would you add to or remove from this list?