Redeeming the rhetoric of political discourse

March 16, 2021

Political discourse has become more divisive and toxic among politicians and constituents alike.

Discussions over differences between political parties and policies have devolved from respectful debate to verbal accusations, assaults and attacks. And it’s easy to be drawn into the fray.

Have you ever stopped to consider how such rhetoric is damaging to our witness and the kingdom of God? And not just in an election year.

Here are three things to remember when we engage in political — or any other — discussions that could be divisive.

Remember that people matter more than politics or parties
Often, the political rhetoric goes something like this. People of differing political persuasions debate an issue. One makes a point, and the other responds by saying something like, “you,” “your side” or “your party” believe this or do this.

Such language can classify, categorize and compartmentalize people in ways that immediately puts them at odds with one another. Remember that those who don’t share your political views or don’t belong to the political party you support are people made in the image of God who Christ died for.

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” — Colossians 4:6 (ESV).

Remember that our words matter
Political debates can quickly devolve into name-calling and finger-pointing, which has been frowned upon since elementary school. We might expect a child to act this way, but what about an adult?

How is belittling language helpful? It can actually be harmful and overshadow any compelling point you make. Have we given up the desire to sway others politely for the kingdom for the sake of being heard or making a statement?

Scripture has much to say about our speech. Our words should build up rather than tear down. They should be gracious rather than grating. They should edify rather than hurt.

Remember the words of Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (ESV).

Remember that we are first citizens of God’s kingdom
As a follower of Christ, you have been bought with the price of the cross and transferred from the kingdom of this world into the kingdom of God. Your first and foremost affiliation is to God’s kingdom.

As a citizen of God’s kingdom, we are called to speak truth to this world and when its institutions are in error. This is what it means to be a faithful citizen of the kingdom of God and a good citizen to this world.

There is a struggle to navigate our faith while living as citizens of two kingdoms. There is a temptation for politics to take precedence because it’s something we see the effects of and can tangibly fight for.

We see the impact of abortion on demand. We see the impact of immigration laws and open borders. We see the impact of redefining marriage. Therefore, we can don our political jerseys and go to battle against the “other” team. We often relegate the spiritual battle — including the care for our “opponents’” souls — for a very visible and tangible battle in the political world.

Questions like, “Which party do you affiliate with? Who do you align with? With whom does your allegiance lie?” should quickly be answered with “Christ!” And as we uphold the banner of Christ, we should also be willing to see the faults within our own institutions, parties and affiliations.

These tensions aren’t unique to us. Moses dealt with the tension of living as an Egyptian and as a Hebrew. Daniel knew what it was like to stand against the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar in order to stand for the kingdom of God. Esther chose to conceal her identity with God’s chosen people for a period of time in order to identify with the physical kingdom she lived in.

We need grace, and we need to show grace, as we figure out this tension, too.

by Terry Long  
Church Health and Revitalization  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
      Jonathan Blaylock  /  Pastor  /  North Albemarle Baptist Church

Caraway celebrates 60 years of ministry and memories

North Carolina Baptists joined forces in July 1962 to cultivate a powerful new tool to help churches reach and disciple more people — Camp Caraway. Now, decades later, the camp continues to serve N.C. Baptists and will celebrate its 60th summer this July.  Situated on more than...

How leaders can bridge generational gaps in Asian American churches

Many Asian American churches provide spaces for Asian immigrants to continue worshiping similarly to how they did in their home countries. They offer a familiar community and a home away from home. What can often be overlooked, however, is the cultural gap between immigrant...

On death and dying, as it relates to churches

In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, wrote the classic book On Death and Dying. This work, chronicling lessons she learned with terminally ill patients, outlined the five stages that all people go through as they near death. Beginning when they are...

4 symptoms to watch for when assessing pastoral health

In preparation for this article I confess I did Google, “How to know if a pastor is healthy?” The number of articles, blogs and sites addressing the increasing issue of pastoral health did not disappoint. After all, we are hopefully coming out of the most difficult time of...

Fisher retires after 36 years at Caldwell Association

Dale Fisher received quite the surprise on his 70th birthday. Not only did ministry colleagues serenade him with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” during the N.C. Associational Missions Conference in early April, they also recognized Fisher for his long tenure of service in leading...

The power of a name: God’s faithfulness in mental health

If I have learned one lesson this year, it’s that there is power in a name. When we give our struggle a name, we are able to better distinguish truth from lie and work toward healing. Naming opens the door to freedom and sheds light on truth that can feel uncomfortable, exposing...

Scholarship to cover tuition for new Fruitland students

New students now have an opportunity to attend Fruitland Baptist Bible College tuition-free this fall. Fruitland recently announced a new scholarship that will cover tuition costs for new, full-time students attending the Hendersonville campus during the fall 2022 quarter. The...

Un pastor de Charlotte planta una segunda iglesia después de pasar meses en el hospital

El otoño pasado Oscar Muñoz por fin regresó al hogar después de pasar ocho meses en un hospital y también en un centro de rehabilitación donde recuperó sus fuerzas luego de batallar con complicaciones por causa del COVID-19.Unas semanas más tarde, alrededor del Día de Acción de...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!