Yesterday a good friend of mine told me about a church youth event he and his son recently attended. He said it was this really fulfilling , spiritual weekend, however, on the ride home most of his traveling companions (including the Youth leader) got to talking about politics and began disparaging democrats, liberals, anti-war supporters, and Hilary for about 90 minutes.
Now, my friend is, pretty much, all of those things (well, he’s not Hilary, but he likes her just fine). He described comments that weren’t necessarily just conservative, Republican, or pro-war in nature, but were instead blatantly mean and derogatory of those who have different political views. (The idea that "any real Christian MUST be a conservative Republican or they're NOT really a Christian" is a sore spot for me, if you didn't already know.) My friend said this incident not only deflated what was otherwise a really spiritual weekend, but how he lost a lot of respect the youth leader. It was so crushing to him that he is now reconsidering going on a previously planned mission trip with the group next Summer. Worse, he is concerned with how this experience will affect his son’s attitude toward the Youth program and Youth leader. Now, I'm sure nobody intended to be hurtful or disrespectful, but I still found the whole account to be troubling.
I don't mean to pick on Republicans about this. Most of my friends are conservative Republicans and would never say anything intentionally hurtful. Also, many Democrats and liberals are just a guilty of this kind of polarization. But I keep thinking that, as Christians, we need to take a higher road and not get so dogmatic about political issues, and being "right", that we discourage other Christians. More so, we should never act un-Christlike towards anyone. Although my friend didn’t want to say anything about it, for fear it might offend him (I told you he was a liberal), I recommended that he talk to the Youth Leader and tell him how he felt so they could clear it up and heal/grow. They don’t have to agree about politics (and they probably won’t) but they DO need to clear the air and not let the offense fester.
Then this morning I read these verses in my morning devotional:
“Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every kind of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.”
- Ephesians 4:29-32