If You’ve Started Hating Fellow Christians Because of How They’re Voting, You’ve Lost Perspective

I’ve been homeschooling now for 8 weeks and am thoroughly enjoying it. I especially love having the opportunity to dig more deeply into subjects that are glossed over in traditional school or not addressed at all. Case in point: logic.

Every week, I teach my 6th grade twins how to spot logical fallacies using the introductory book, The Fallacy Detective. Last week, however, I deviated from the book and gave my kids a document containing several paragraphs from the Democratic Party platform. This week I gave them a similar document from the Republican Party platform. My purpose in these lessons was to teach my kids how to think critically as they evaluate opposing viewpoints and to help them see that people form their views for many different reasons.

After our first discussion, in which we evaluated the Democratic platform, my son asked, “The Republican platform won’t be so bad, right?”

To his great surprise, I replied, “Of course it will be.”

My son had concluded that the platform was “bad” because I had helped him and his sister ask so many critical questions about it. For example, where money was going to be spent, we asked, “Where will that money come from?” Where guarantees of equal pay were being made, we asked, “How will the government accomplish that, and what will the result be to businesses?” Where minimum wage was being raised, we asked, “How will businesses respond, what will that mean for job creation or loss, and what will the net effect be?”

These were just a few of our discussion points. For each promise that sounded good, I taught them to ask, “What is the tradeoff?”

My kids are well aware that my husband and I are decidedly conservative. We talk about politics a lot. Because our logic lesson revealed so many potential downsides of the stated platform goals (the nature of any tradeoff discussion), my son seemed to assume that the Republican platform we support must be free from such downsides; one party is “bad” and the other is “good.” One of the things I emphasize most in homeschool is being able to see from a perspective other than one’s own, so I immediately wanted to challenge such thinking. In fact, my emphasis on wanting my kids to see both sides of an issue has been even greater lately, because the lack of this perspective is a major problem in our culture right now.

I’ve been disheartened and frankly appalled by the hatred I’ve seen some Christians have toward other Christians based on their political views—and that goes for both sides. To be clear, I’m not talking about impassioned discussions of which party or candidate to vote for. That’s necessary and important. I’m talking about the personal disgust I’m seeing Christians express toward one another.

It should go without saying, but since it apparently hasn’t, I’ll say it here: If you’ve started hating fellow Christians because of how they’re voting, you’ve lost perspective.

For some added perspective, let me tell you the story I shared with my son that day in logic class.

Saved by the New Deal

Both of my grandparents grew up with few material resources, but my grandma’s family had it especially hard. She was born in a rural part of Missouri and lived in a tiny log cabin built by her dad. There were many nights they would go hungry despite her dad’s best efforts to hunt for squirrels. When there was something to eat, her mom often gave it to the kids, going hungry herself. My grandma never saw a doctor until she was 17, and the effects of her early malnutrition lasted a lifetime.

When she was a teenager, some well dressed men drove into her tiny town in a fancy car—sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the country folk. They said they would take her family to the city (a luxury trip!) if they would agree to vote while there for the Democratic candidate for president.

They went.

Her parents voted.

And my grandma began to form her lifelong view that the Democrats were the ones who cared about people like her—people who didn’t have enough.

Just a couple of years later, she was ready to leave high school in a small town with no job opportunities. Things looked horribly bleak until one day she learned of jobs newly available through one of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. She hopped on a train and headed to Wichita, Kansas, where she was given a parts job at Boeing—a job she was proud of and grateful to have. Years later, she would tell me with tears in her eyes how that job saved her from poverty and how the Democrats saved numerous other lives like hers through the New Deal.

She was loyal to the Democratic Party from that point on, as were my grandfather and my parents. As far as I knew as a kid, anyone who cared about the poor would be a Democrat too. That’s why I was so shocked one day when my family overheard a leader in our church mention to someone in casual conversation that “you just can’t be a Christian if you don’t vote Republican.”

Wait a minute! My young mind was confused. Christians care about the poor and so do Democrats. Why would this leader say such a thing? It was impossible for me to understand, and it left my family with deeply hurt feelings. That was a turning point for me in realizing that Christians vary in their views on politics.

I eventually went on to get an economics degree in college, and I started to realize there was a much bigger picture to consider in how a country determines its policies. I learned that the New Deal, in many experts’ analysis, was an economic disaster—something very hard for me to process given my grandma’s powerful story. My views on what was economically best for our country started to shift toward the conservative end of the spectrum, and later my social views did as well.

But for years I couldn’t bring myself to register as a Republican because I felt I was betraying my grandma.

I finally affiliated with the Republican Party when I fully internalized that there are many complex reasons why people vote the way they do. I could love my grandma in the deepest possible way while acknowledging that we had some very different reasons for voting the ways we did. We both loved Jesus, we both loved others, and we both wanted God’s best for people. We just disagreed on how to best live that out politically. If I had lived the life my grandma did, I might well have been a lifelong Democrat myself—and I told my son as much.

Hatred is Rooted in Ungodly Arrogance

My purpose in sharing this story with my son was not to leave him in some kind of relativistic political fog that there’s never a policy view that’s better than another policy view from a Christian perspective. To the contrary, I’ve explained to my kids precisely why I believe we are at a critical point in our nation’s history, and that the agenda of the far left has the potential to destroy the foundations of American civilization as we know it—including, but not limited to, religious liberty.

In other words, I feel very strongly about my position, and don’t hesitate to say as much.

But I also want my kids to know that, as Christians, we should love people no matter how much their views differ from our own.

As a culture, we have all but lost the ability to distinguish between confronting ideas and confronting people. Confronting ideas looks like this:

  • The policy (you’re supporting) would be a disaster for our country because (reason).
  • If (candidate) gets elected, there will be a morally unacceptable outcome for (group of people) because (reason).
  • I think your reasoning is wrong on (particular issue) because (reason).

Confronting people looks like this:

  • I can’t believe you would vote for (candidate). You’re disgusting.
  • How could you vote for (policy or candidate)? You’re why people hate Christians.
  • You’re a racist hypocrite and nothing more (because you’re voting for candidate X).

There’s a thread that links the kind of personal antagonism in comments like these—arrogance. When a person despises someone for voting differently (and doesn’t just think they’re wrong), that person is arrogantly assuming at least one of three things:

1. They have superior motives. Because they believe that their own motivations for voting in a certain way are purer than the other person’s motivations, they look scathingly upon those supposedly problematic intentions.

2. They have superior personal experience. They believe that their own life experience gives them some kind of enlightened understanding that those who vote differently don’t have—and they despise those who don’t accept their conclusions from their experience as sufficient justification for voting as they do.

3. They have superior knowledge. They believe that they’re more educated in some way than those who vote differently and look down on those less “educated” as foolish simpletons.

None of this is befitting of a Christian who, above all, is called to 1) love God and 2) love others (Matthew 22:36-40).

Love entails humility. It requires us to want God’s best for someone more than we want to gratify our desire to express self-righteous contempt.

That person who supports Trump, despite all of the reasons you think they’re dead wrong for doing so?

You’re called to humbly love them as image bearers of God himself.

That person who supports Biden, despite all of the reasons you think they’re dead wrong for doing so?

You’re called to humbly love them as image bearers of God himself.

That person who supports the third party candidate you’ve never heard of?

You’re called to humbly love them as image bearers of God himself.

Next time you’re tempted to post that barfing emoji to show just how disgusting you think someone is for voting the way they do, ask yourself, “Is this wanting God’s best for this person?”

Chances are, God wants better for them—whether they’re right or wrong about whom to vote for.

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