Monday morning I made what I thought was an innocent post on Facebook. Apparently, according to some, I made the dreaded mistake of congratulating Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for becoming the longest serving Governor in American history. I wrote about this as well yesterday, but decided not to share it on my Facebook page due to the negative feedback. I didn’t need two threads like that going in one day.
Here are some of the comments I received:
“What a tragedy.”
“Unfortunately this just emphasizes what Trump said about Iowans being idiots! LOL!”
“Not an accomplishment in my mind.”
Then this comment that, without an explanation, is slanderous. “Seriously. I do not congratulate a guy who has been divorced 4 times on his 5th marriage. Why would I congratulate a known enemy of conservative values and liberty, on destroying our freedoms for another day?” Marriages = terms in office he later explained. Considering marriages are lifelong covenants, not political terms it’s not a good analogy.
This was disheartening. Look anyone who has been a reader of Caffeinated Thoughts knows that I am not a fan of Governor Branstad’s. I’ve been a very vocal critic. However, I will praise what I see that is good along with criticizing the bad.
Yesterday was historic. It is an accomplishment. Branstad has served the state of Iowa for 21 years, 11 months and 3 days. That doesn’t even include one term as Lt. Governor and three terms as a state representative. Congratulating Governor Branstad on the occasion is not tacit approval of everything I publicly (or privately) disagreed with him or his administration on.
It demonstrates civility. It is shows charity. Those who have the inability to demonstrate both frankly lose credibility. They look petty, and it is hard to take angry, petty people seriously. It’s bad when liberals do it, and it is bad when conservatives do it as well. It’s tragic when Christians refuse to do this.
There is a biblical principle that I try to base my writing and social media use on. I’m the first to admit that I fall short on occasion to speak the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15).
A lot of folks on the left are good at the “love” part (unless they think you’re intolerant, but that’s an entirely different article), but stink at telling the truth. Christians on the right, especially those engaged in politics, speak the truth, but far too often our political speech lacks love.
Also, the Apostle Peter, wrote to the early church who faced persecution, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame,” (1 Peter 3:15-16, ESV).
We are to show gentleness and respect. I KNOW I need to grow in this area which is why I keep this in front of me. I want to make sure that if (when) I’m slandered or persecuted it is my good behavior that is the target and not because I was being a jerk.
Marking this occasion is a relatively minor way we can show civility and charity to a Governor we may disagree with or the current occupant of the White House.
There is also a quote that comes to mind that is often attributed to Augustine of Hippo, but it was actually comes from a German Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century, Rupertus Meldenius. Meldenius said, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.”
This is obviously talking about the Church, but “in all things” Christians are to exercise charity with one another, and from the verses I referenced above with those outside the Church.
You may not like the job Governor Branstad is doing, but you can still point out the good he does do and congratulate him on occasions like these. That is being charitable, and it doesn’t require agreement, quite the opposite.