The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
Glen and I made a decision at the beginning of this election season not to share our support for political candidates, local or national on social media, our cars or signs in our yard. While I have occasionally violated that decision by supporting a local candidate on Facebook, for the most part, we have held to it.
But, I realized after talking to a friend today, that our silence and the silence of people like us has left a void in the dialogue and made others like us feel alienated and lonely. The raucous rhetoric of this election, particularly on a national level is so crazy that only the rabid are being heard and those of us more moderate are being outshouted.
I think this is the most contentious election since the Moral Majority gained power in 1980. I remember a conversation I had with one of my graduate school professors that year. He was Jewish and from New York City and found me, a Southern Baptist girl raised in the “south” if you can call Florida the south, a curious oddity. His specialty was 1960s history, particularly the Civil Rights movement. One day, we were talking about the election and I mentioned how uncomfortable the Moral Majority made me. He was surprised. He said that the black church often supported politicians and urged members to vote as it was the Christian thing to do. They went so far as to endorse certain candidates. I told him that the difference in that 1980 election was we were not being told that it was the Christian thing to do, rather the rhetoric was twisted to make it sound like we were not Christians unless we voted a certain way.
To question my salvation because of my politics felt wrong and still does. I think for the last 36 years, Christians have been programmed to support things that Christ might not have supported. The more I go on mission trips, the more “liberal” my thinking becomes at least with regard to what most “church” people think. Yes, I think Jesus would consider abortion a sin, but so would He think hatred of the immigrant and gay, intolerance for different viewpoints and backgrounds, treating women (and men) in degrading ways, racial inequity and corporate greed a sin. And what most of us forget and fail to follow, no matter the sin, Jesus would have loved and not condemned.
The Moral Majority convinced us to use certain issues as a litmus test and encouraged us to judge people as non Christian. One issue does not ensure a quality candidate. My friend told me how alone and confused she felt with so many voices, the media, the candidates, supporters shouting in her ears. So, while I did not tell her who I am supporting, I told her how I am making my choices.
1. I choose based upon what their words say about what’s in their hearts, not what they say they will do. We all know that promises can be broken. I listen carefully to what the politicians’ say, not what the other side said that they said, not the soundbites the media provides, but what they really say. While I cannot see a person’s heart, I can hear what comes out of it and that gives me a good indication of what is inside.
2. I choose to turn off the media. The media’s job is to bring us the bad news. Fear builds viewers and wins ratings wars. I cannot learn about a candidate in the ten minutes or less of bad news about the election that is sandwiched between floods, hurricanes and murder.
3. I choose to side with Jesus, all the while understanding that no one but Him is perfect. Who did He stand for? The unloved, the broken, the hurting, the homeless, the neglected, the abused, the sinners. That’s who I will stand for, too, and the candidate who is standing there with me will get my vote.
4. I choose to go against labels. I cross party lines. I look beyond skin color or gender. I seek real life experience not necessarily political service.
5. I choose not to judge those who may disagree with me. I remember what Jesus said about how He would cause families to disagree. I try not to be smug or judgmental, but loving and kind even though there are some people who hold values and beliefs that I consider extreme. But, then, they probably consider me extreme as well!
6. I choose to remember that I can have as much influence as a politician. Though my decisions may only influence one person at a time, I have the power to change the future by my decisions and how I treat people today. Kindness leads to repentance, not a beating over the head!
It all boils down to my choices to love, to listen, to invest time in those around me. No, you won’t see a bumper sticker for a politician on my car, but you will see a handmade sign that tells my beliefs. It reads: “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”