By Mark A. Taylor
As every media outlet in the U.S. comments on this year’s most unusual election, distinctly Christian voices are seldom heard above the noise. And even though I have no expectation that CNN will be quoting CHRISTIAN STANDARD, I have decided this week to weigh in.
Actually, it’s not my opinion but those of two others I feel compelled to share.The first is from our Culture Watch columnist, Joe Boyd, whose “Steps to Improve Political Discourse” appears in CHRISTIAN STANDARD’s May issue. His three points (“We can drop the labels,” “We can appeal to the best in others,” and “We can disagree better”) challenge Christians to take a different tone and adopt a different strategy than the mudslingers ranting on social media—and sometimes from public podiums.
“The fear and hate in this political year will only grow,” Boyd predicts. “The church may be the only institution in America poised to respond with love and grace to a nation that will grow desperate for it.”
Dick Alexander pled for love and grace and more in his Facebook post this weekend. Alexander, the typically prophetic and persuasive retired minister from Lifespring Christian Church in Cincinnati, shared his thoughts in the midst of an international trip. He described chill he felt as he handed his United States of America passport to the gate agent in Amsterdam. “Half the world’s population would give everything they own to carry that passport,” he remarked. “I feel incredibly privileged.
“But a few yards down the boarding ramp was a stack of international newspapers,” he continued, “most with front-page stories about the American presidential election. The world is laughing at us. They think we’ve lost our minds.”
And then he challenges Christians to step away from the madness. And I can’t do better this week than simply to quote him:
Maybe it’s time for us to sit down and shut up. To stop screaming our culture war issues and our “answers” at each other. To sit down, be quiet, and reflect on how we got here, and what it will take to lift us from this pit. Certainly it’s not a messiah who will “fight” for us, or “make America great again,” or give us free stuff. And it’s not if we’d “just” do this or that. It’s much deeper.
We didn’t get here in one election cycle—it was decades in the making. If it’s true that people in a democracy get the leaders they deserve, then it’s time to search our own souls.
This is a time for introspection, for prayer, for quiet conversations with family and friends. A time to ask what price we’re each willing to pay to live in a country governed by noble ideals. A place inhabited by people who respect and care for all. A place where people are encouraged to be what their Creator made them to be. A time to ask who are the leaders that call out the best in us, not the cancerous self-interest. A time to consider how we can persuade others to join us pursuing things worthy of all of our lives.
So could we reflect? Could we pray? Could we talk—respectfully? Could we consider things that are true and right and just and honorable? Could we look up toward the high road and start climbing toward it?
We don’t have to “save America.” If we can each make a dent, our grandchildren will be grateful. But it’s late—we need to get started.