The post that follows is a repost from August 12, 2020. I am reposting with commentary all the posts I made leading up to the 2020 presidential election and through the insurrection of January 6, 2021. My commentary follows this post. (For background on why I am re-running these posts, see: https://www.jamespence.com/reflections-on-january-6th/)
So, I kicked a hornet’s nest last night.
Not literally, of course.
I made a post on Facebook, congratulating Mr. Biden on his choice of running mates. I thought it was a savvy political choice that gives him the best chance of winning in November.
My post was brief: Four words. Two emojis.
“Excellent choice, Mr. Biden.” (Two thumbs up.)
I didn’t say I was a Biden supporter. (Although I am.)
I didn’t say that I fully embraced everything that he and Ms. Harris believe. (I don’t.)
I merely congratulated him on his decision.
A VP choice is strategic. And I thought his was strategically sound.
The pushback was interesting.
Some of it was supportive. Some asked sincere questions. Some offered alternative opinions. I was okay with all of that. I don’t mind it when people disagree with me.
Others challenged me to defend or explain myself. Some of the pushback was a bit passive-aggressive. Some snarky. Some mocking (not in comments, but I don’t know how else to interpret the four little laughing-face emojis I received).
At the end of the day, I felt besieged.
Sometimes I get tired of feeling like a turtle who must stay in my shell because I don’t toe the approved political line.
So, why did I stick my neck out this time?
Because I anticipated this kind of pushback would come. I’ve seen it happen to others. The occasions are many and varied. It might be about whether to wear masks, or whether hydroxychloroquine is a miracle drug, or whether gun control is appropriate, or whether churches should meet virtually, or (fill in the blank with a controversial issue).
Someone shares a post or a meme that expresses an unpopular opinion, and the arguments begin. And they can get nasty.
Christians, this needs to stop.
When the pandemic started, I was hopeful.
I hoped that in the face of such a daunting crisis, we would come together as a people like we did after 9/11 or in World War 2. Instead, I see only more division, more arguing, more bickering. And, sadly, a great deal of it comes from evangelicals—especially where politics are concerned.
What I’d really like to hear on Facebook is: “Hey, I don’t agree with you, but I love you.” or if that’s too familiar, “I don’t agree, but we’re still friends.”
Paul wrote to the Galatians: “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Gal. 5:14-15).
Could we possibly agree to walk in love toward one another?
James wrote: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20).
Over the next few months, the presidential campaign is going to be heating up. And in the present climate, that could mean fractured relationships. Could we all discipline ourselves to be…
…quick to listen (even when we disagree),
…slow to speak (scroll on by a post or hide it if you don’t like it),
…and slow to become angry (stop making passive-aggressive, snarky, or confrontational comments just because someone espouses a position you disagree with).
Now, this post is already too long, but I did promise to explain why I’m supporting Biden and Harris. I’ll do that in more detail in another post, next week.
But I will summarize my thinking in one sentence: For me, in this presidential election, character is the determining issue.
In the meantime, let’s be kind to one another.
This is where it all started. I’d been largely been keeping silent about Mr. Trump up to this point but I decided it was time to see what the response of my evangelical brothers and sisters would be if I made the tiniest of comments that dared to step even slightly out of line. The response was rough. And that’s when I decided I had to step out of the closet and tell people what I really thought.
But the message of this post is as relevant today as it was nearly a year and a half ago. Wherever we fall on the political spectrum, we need to be people of grace and kindness.
I don’t make political posts on my Facebook profile anymore (although I plan to post a link to these posts via my author page).
As we used to say in theological discussions, it generates a great deal of heat and very little light. It makes people angry and doesn’t change minds. Those who agree with me, agree with me still. Those who don’t, blast me (or unfollow or unfriend).
I do plan to continue writing about this, however. But it will be here, on my own website.
But my message still stands. Whatever our position, however much we disagree, let’s be kind to one another.
I fear we are on the verge of losing that ability–if we haven’t already lost it. And the consequences of that will be disastrous.