Posted by: Bob Clark | July 12, 2012

Beyond Civility

Election Day — November 12, 2012 — is fast approaching.

Some members of our church family feel that this day is important and voting is an essential exercise. Others in our church family feel this day is irrelevant and voting an exercise in futility.

Some members of our church family cannot wait to cast their vote to re-elect President Obama. Others in our church family cannot wait to vote for Governor Romney. Still others in our church family do not like either candidate and so will vote for another candidate or refrain from voting in the presidential election.  And still others will vote for “anybody but Obama” or “anybody but Romney.”

Some members of our church family will enjoy every minute of this election cycle. They will attend rallies, watch and listen to commercials, talk back to the television during debates, and be enthralled with the entire experience. Others in our church family are dreading the whole experience — the debates, the television and radio political ads, the blog posts, and status updates.

At some point in the days leading up to November 12 the debate will turn nasty, the ads will go negative, the name-calling will become demonization, and some pundits and other talking heads will call for civility in the public discourse.

What role should Christians play in all this? Let me make it clear that I am not talking about what candidate Christians should back. Again, as I stated above, Christians — including those at Lafayette– are all over the map on political affiliation and candidates. I am talking about the role Christians can and should play when it comes to civility.

Christians should lead the way in promoting civility. In fact, Christians should not be satisfied with civility. Our standard should be even higher — the golden rule, for example. Perhaps the standard should even be love, kindness, and compassion.

So if you are interested in the election — whether you are red or blue; R, D, or I; voting for Obama, Romney or a third party candidate — don’t settle for civility. Go beyond civility. Watch your words and your tone. Be careful not to personalize issues and demonize candidates or their supporters. Think twice before you pass on an email, tweet, or status update that is filled with angry rhetoric and information and accusations that might not even be true.

What would it be like if Christians took the lead in setting the tone for public discourse by going beyond civility to love, kindness, and the golden rule?

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Responses

  1. Bob, well said. I, as I am sure many others, get worn out by all of the negative ads. A higher standard, the golden rule, would be welcome and encouraging.

  2. Bob, one of your best articles ever. Thank you! I’d like to nail it to a few doors, but I’ll have to be content with running it in the bulletin and hoping it gets read by all.

    • I agree with Alan! One of the best. I’ll be sharing this too!

  3. Excellent! And excellent timing. I’ll be talking Sunday about some of the barriers we may put in the way of people coming to Jesus. And, political views is one of those. We sometimes give the impression that if you don’t agree with me politically, there is no place for you in God’s family. You said well what I’d like to. So, I’ll just read your words – and give you full credit (so they’ll know where to send complaints 🙂 Thanks, Bob!


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