Well, it’s Caucus Day in Iowa. Mercifully, the political radio and TV ads will stop at least until the general election campaigns begin this Summer, and my phone will stop its incessant ringing until then as well.
Don’t get me wrong: I really enjoy this stuff. For political junkies like me, there’s an excitement to election campaigns that is pretty singular. In Iowa, that excitement is at its zenith during caucus season.
But this go-round, I must confess, I have been troubled, and not just because my phone won’t stop ringing.
The Republican field of presidential hopefuls was the strongest in my lifetime. There were easily a half- dozen candidates I could have supported, and many in the field had credible professions of personal saving faith in Jesus Christ . I had very high hopes that we would see a number of them rise to the top of this very crowded field. It wasn’t meant to be, of course, as I’ve seen some of my favorite GOP candidates struggle to get any traction, and, meanwhile, Donald Trump has shown he is a force to be reckoned with, inexplicable as that may be.
My purpose in bringing this up is not to be critical of a particular candidate or those who support him or her. Quite to the contrary! I’m simply providing a context to my concern, which is this: The situation briefly described above, where a relatively large number of Christian candidates were scrambling to garner support from the same base of voters, and all struggling against the phenomenon that Donald Trump became, really ratcheted up the intensity of the candidates and their supporters to attack one another.
And attack they did.
I know politics is a blood sport. I know you can’t win if you are afraid to say things that are critical of your opponent. I know people are passionate about their political beliefs, their candidate, and what they believe about their candidate. I certainly don’t expect political campaigns to be all sunshine and lollipops, but surely we must recognize that there are ethical limits to things that are said and done, especially when the candidates and supporters involved are professing Christians.
It’s bad enough to see the candidates accuse one another of lying, or the PACs (political action committees) blasting one candidate or another with ads that are frequently mischaracterizations of the truth, but it really bothers me when I see my evangelical and/or conservative friends beating one another up on social media over something or other a candidate may have said or a position he or she allegedly holds. Many times someone will write a candidate off as “evil” for one reason or another, and then in turn do the same to that candidate’s supporters. It’s important to remember that politicians are just fallen human creatures. In my estimation, they are rarely as virtuous as their supporters see them nor always as “evil” as their detractors suggest.
And while I do indeed think political matters are important, charity among brethren is more important. The judgement of charity is never granted in political speech or action. Charity in general is absent.
There will always be much that we disagree on relative to political questions. I’ve seen things written by evangelicals and conservatives that I thought were un-Biblical, illogical, erroneous, or just plain silly. Sometimes I respond to them. Most of the time I don’t. In those cases I am content to “let it go” in love, even if I think my brother has lost his mind.
I don’t know what will happen today, or over the next several months as we Republicans continue this process of selecting a nominee. I have my opinions about what would be a good outcome, but, whatever happens, my hope is that we don’t destroy our relationships within the body of Christ, or bring shame upon the name of Christ before a watching world. As I’ve written before, Christians have had a rather tragic history on occasion where politics are concerned.