By Jason Garrison
Last week President Barack Obama addressed the nation in his 2012 State of the Union. In it, our President asserted that government’s role is to promote a prosperous and equitable society, stated that the government should work to better balance the scale between the rich and the poor, and appealed to Congress to once again extend a temporary payroll tax break for working Americans.
Scrolling through Facebook, I made a startling discovery: people were not talking about the content of his speech, or even disagreeing with his philosophy. Instead, people, and more notably a large percentage of my Christian peers and role models, were mocking, making snide comments, and blatantly disrespecting our Commander and Chief.
Christians need to change the way they address public figures—and this begins with our President. This issue has been on my mind for some time, and it’s time I speak up.
Before I start, let me say this: I am no shining example of undeviating loyalty to my authorities. God’s still working on me. Yet, this is an issue that has clear Biblical mandates, and to ignore those in spite of my faults would be unbiblical.
I have noticed an attitude that has influenced the way Christian’s approach politics. The attitude is this: If I do not agree with my authority, particularly a democratic or liberal one, I have no obligation to treat them with respect.
After President Obama’s State of the Union address I read comments referring to our President as “the talking head,” and as “a monkey.” I saw pictures that made snide remarks about his intellectual capacity. I read low jabs designed to acquire likes from fellow conservative “Obama-bashers.” I was incredibly disappointed. Seven years ago these same Christians accused the liberal media of committing heinous atrocities by insulting President George W. Bush. Am I the only one who sees that as a double standard?
I would like to issue a reminder that Christians are held to a higher standard. Our Bible says in Romans 13: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
There is no clause that says “unless they are liberal or democrat.”
Christians, this is not an option—it is an obligation.
Allow me to share three specific applications when talking politics:
- Think before you post. This should go without saying, but sadly some of us do not use discretion as often as we should. Especially when it comes to political views, it is important that you think about the people you are addressing, how your words will come across, and who you represent.
- Personal attacks are not cool. Rude comments are wrong from a Biblical perspective, but they are also tacky. If you want to be taken seriously, address controversial issues with respect and be deliberate about the issue, not the person.
- Disagree respectfully. This is for all the people that say “Well isn’t this what Facebook is for? Expressing my opinions?” You are right. That is what it is for. But there is no excuse for separating clear Biblical principles from those opinions. Disagreeing in the correct manner not only wins the respect of your opposition, but also is a first step toward real solutions.
If we have this mindset about our political conversations, not only will our speech be Biblical, but we might also move toward some much needed change in our nation.