By Megan Rawlings
We’re entering that time of year. We are inundated with campaign signs, slogans, brochures, and TV ads. Candidates are making promises, doing their best to make their competitors look bad, and trying to convince the public that they are the right person for the job. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Serious disagreements erupt in the public arena, and even believers get caught up in the drama. But how are we, as Christians, supposed to politely express our political opinions without offending others?
Good Manners Had Bad Results
Etiquette books fascinate me. I read them and study how rules have changed over time. It helps me better understand the generations and how they approached various aspects of life. For example, in a 1960s etiquette book, I read that one should never let the phone ring more than six times. And yet today, when I call someone, I grow frustrated if they don’t answer by the second ring, and almost all calls go to voicemail after only four rings.
There is something in those books of gracious behavior, however, that I cannot accept. That rule says we shouldn’t discuss faith or politics, especially at the dinner table. Personally, I think this is a bogus rule. We live in an era of political upheaval, but we have been conditioned to “keep quiet”; thus, we have forgotten how to disagree without creating division. Paul warned Titus,
Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned (Titus 3:9-11, English Standard Version).
So how do we “agree to disagree”? The Bible has a lot to say about how we can stay unified in turbulent times.
How to Stay Unified
The Bible clearly says the body of Christ must be unified. Jesus said, “A house divided against itself will fall” (Luke 11:17), and that is especially true for Christians when dealing with political issues. Take a look at what Scripture has to say:
1. Put on love (Colossians 3:14). When words are spoken in love, when actions are done in love, and when the intent of all things is love, there is no room for fear, anger, or division. We must watch our tone and check our motives when speaking to others.
2. Be humble (Romans 12:16). Humility is not easy, and it is not learned overnight. This behavior is taught to us through the Holy Spirit, but when we do things in humility and with the other person’s needs in mind, there is more room for unity among believers.
3. Focus on the gospel (Philippians 1:27). If we preach the gospel to ourselves and are reminded of the need for Christ, we begin to love others more passionately and are less passionate about correcting them or arguing with them.
4. Pray for wisdom (James 1:5). God promised if we asked for it, he would give us the godly wisdom we need to follow his will.
5. Know what you’re talking about, or else be silent (Proverbs 17:27, 28). It is vital to study and understand what we are talking about. Then, we should share our knowledge and beliefs in truth and love. When we don’t understand, or when words are not necessary, we should remain silent. As most moms taught, “If you do not have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
It is possible to live in unity with other believers, even when we disagree on certain things! God sent us a great road map to help us navigate these tumultuous times. All we need to do is follow his guidance and accept that someone else may have a different opinion. And maybe, if we listen, we can see the other side of an issue we hadn’t considered!
Megan Rawlings is the founder and CEO of The Bold Movement. She is an extrovert, pastor’s wife, and lover of the Scriptures.