How Should Christians Engage in a Divided Political Climate?
As mid-term election day approaches this Tuesday, November 6, we thought we would have our 12th grade Government/Economics teacher, Deanne Regier, share some of her thoughts as to how Christians should rightly engage in politics in such a divided political climate.
For the past nine years, I have had the privilege of teaching the Government-Economics course to the WCCS 12th graders. To say the least, the current divided political climate has re-enforced my belief in treating others with kindness, respect and dignity. Regardless of what is happening on cable news networks or social media, class discussions and private conversations for Christians should be gracious and God-honoring. As Jesus states in Luke 6:43b, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (NIV). Therefore, our conversations, Tweets, posts and demeanor reflect our heart condition.
In an attempt to create a God-honoring classroom environment, I have four foundational beliefs that I implement in my class:
Christians historically have been on the forefront of politics and reform movements in this country. For example, the Second Great Awakening of the 19th century was a catalyst for the wide variety of movements: abolition, temperance, educational and social. Because of their love for God, Christians impacted their community for social and political change. Therefore, we, as Christians, should not disengage in this chaotic and vicious political culture. Instead, we should be more engaged. Each quarter, I require students to earn points from a variety of projects that encourage local involvement in politics and discourse. Students attend city council meetings or volunteer for political campaigns. We, as Christians, should engage in current events even more during this time of division and controversy as a “light” to a dark world (Luke 5:16).
Dishonoring a person cannot be permitted and must be openly challenged. So how does this manifest itself in the classroom setting? First, students are welcome to disagree with policies but cannot crush or disrespect a person. We actually practice how we should say something. Students cannot say, “I hate_____.” But they can say: “ I disagree with ____ policies for the following reasons.” Second, we should challenge “person-bashing” conversations and encourage the respecting of humans as created in the image of God in conversations and social media. If we say nothing, we in effect condone the comments. Finally, we can simply honor our leaders with the correct title. Simply adding “President” or “Secretary” or “Senator” can show this person respect. Our words have meaning!
Condemning someone based on hearsay or rumors without due process, rule of law or respected journalistic practices cannot be allowed. Therefore, only approved news sources are allowed to be quoted in class and used in research. Of course, I encourage students to analyze differing perspectives (i.e. FoxNews and CNN) but encourage thoughtful interpretation of the presentation and content.
Since God is far above our simple understanding of Democrat and Republican Party, God cannot be limited to a certain party. I start each year by saying, “God is not a Republican. God is not a Democrat. He is far above our political chaos.” As Tim Keller, founder of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City, wrote, “While believers can register under a party affiliation and be active in politics, they should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one.” (Editorial in New York Times, September 29, 2018) We are commanded as Christians to love your neighbor and defend the rights of the oppressed. But how we “love” and “defend” is open to interpretation.
As I state in my course syllabus, the primary goal of WCCS’s Economics-Government course is to “develop a passion for civic and economic responsibilities as Christians in an international community.” Even though I want my students to be passionate about government and economics that isn’t my primary goal as an educator. My prayer for my students is that they see our hope is not in this government, administration, tax policy, healthcare system or any other current hot-topic. Our hope is in an eternal Heavenly Father who has a purpose and plan for our country and its leadership. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are citizens of the kingdom of Heaven over which Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. We relate to our country as citizens of Christ’s kingdom and direct our actions to please Him. Rest assured -- God is still in charge.
We encourage our families to go out and vote next week in the election! Take your students with you and be sure to have some thoughtful conversation about how we, as Christians, have the opportunity and responsibility to honor our Savior in the political arena and point others towards His grace and hope.