Religion, Politics & Friendship || Jason Leonard
I stayed up way too late on Wednesday, rapt in post-debate commentary. I watched the presidential debate. The post-debate news coverage. I even watched Gary Johnson’s hour-long Google Hangout debate. Then I wandered over to twitter to see what was trending. Then to Facebook. At 2am on Thursday morning a friend of mine posted this update on Facebook:
I never talk religion or politics with my friends and family. I love you all too much!
While I identify with the risk and fear involved in bringing up these things with my loved ones, I wonder: is it really love which keeps us from entering those conversations with the ones we care about most?
Politics deal with how we all want to govern and be governed. Politics affect the safety and laws and education in our country. Politics affect what and how much we can buy. Access to healthcare. The normative language we speak and see on signs and billboards in this country. How much of each dollar you make you get to keep in your pocket. How much that dollar is really worth.
Religion deals with the reason for our existence and the very meaning of life. Religious beliefs affect every, single aspect of all of our lives. The devout, irreligious or non-religious all have beliefs about meaning, purpose, value and direction which shape everything from how we spend money and educate people to how we define success as individuals and what freedoms we ought to have
Can we really say that we love people so much that we refuse to enter into those conversations with them?
I wonder if it’s actually that we don’t love them enough.
I’m mindful of how Jesus spoke of religious beliefs. He said, in referring to the entirety of Old Testament laws and commands, that all of them depend on love. All of them, quite literally, hang on love. If you don’t have love, they fall.
The trick isn’t to avoid conversations about religion and politics, it’s to love others.
- For many of us, the reason we don’t talk about these things is simply because we don’t know very much. One of the best moments in watching Gary Johnson’s commentary on the debate was his acknowledgment that he had no idea what the other candidates were saying. I breathed easier at that moment. We shouldn’t feel pressured to know everything about everything… that’s actually one of the primary reasons we elect officials into office – so they can be more informed about certain things and make decisions. With regards to politics, you may start with something like iSideWith. It is a quick and easy test to help you know what you agree and disagree with among the candidates. Of course, your initial opinions might be changed once you start talking to people about their reasoning behind things. With regards to religion, walk up to your pastor and say, “Can I talk with you about some of the basics some time?” Ask him or her the real questions you have. This happens to me a number of times every year and every single time. it is refreshing and beneficial.
- None of us have all the right answers and much of what you hear is simply justification and rhetoric to defend and prop up a position. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but it does mean there is room for more conversation. So some of us need to speak up more. Your thoughts and ideas are needed in the lives of your loved ones. They need you to tell them what you see from your perspective. Especially when it comes to all those things which politics and religion deal with.
- Some of us are so scared or certain that we have suffocated all humanity in the name of some idea, theology or civil policy. We need to be reminded that these things… these religious and political ideas exist to serve people, not the other way around. Listen. Be open to changing your view point on something this election season.
|Jason is a university pastor in Chattanooga and currently studying at Bryan College. He is married, has two kids, a dog, and a problem keeping his mouth shut. Connect with him @jasongleonard|
|Read more posts by Jason Leonard|