I have a few thoughts up over at Q on how Christians should behave in public on issues where there is widespread disagreement–disagreement which in this case has been codified around our elections.  

You should read the whole thing, but here’s where I end up.

Even while the arguments must be had, though, the goal should be the soft coercion of persuasion so we can hopefully stave off the firmer coercion of a government’s decision. And here we have the deepest problem with our American social order: as polarization has deepened and echo chambers have become more prominent, attempts to persuade seem to have fallen by the wayside. Much of our public discourse is directed toward reinforcing what the faithful already know, rather than attempting to convince those who disagree. Just as such closed circles lead to intellectual stagnation, they also lead to rhetorical stagnation—people don’t have to find new ways to frame their ideas because everyone already agrees.

Civility in Christian DiscourseAs Christians interested in speaking in public as Christians, we need to be at least as sensitive to the manner of our speech as our conclusions. The reality is that a divided public is a permanent feature of American political life—the accommodation to that is why the founders established the American government how they did. We need not fear differences or serious and substantial disagreements. But as Christians, the guidelines the Bible lays out for speaking and listening are not just recipes for healthy relational harmony. “Be slow to speak and quick to listen” is a political good as much as a social one. If we are to dialogue with those who we disagree, we must eventually reach the point of first principles—of examining and questioning the presuppositions that make our positions different. But that is a process that must be done slowly and that demands a careful and interested ear.

Where we go from here as a country is an open question. But it is in the face of such openness that Christians are called to pray, to look to the providential hand of God and to entrust themselves, their society and their leaders into his loving care. And through such a posture, we can as Christians begin to cultivate the sort of cheerful opposition or affirmation of our leadership that makes room for reasonable disagreement—even as we still fight fiercely for the common well-being.

Disagreement, of course, to the piece is most welcome.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

One Comment

Leave a reply

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