We live in a time of unprecedented partisanship, and animosity between factions. The thing that makes America great — the freedom to hold differing views and debate one another with honor and civility — is rapidly diminishing.
Case in point was a recent article in the newspaper about how the heat has been turned up on the discussion of the vaccination issue. So much so that online forums and private Facebook pages where mothers are used to sharing such topics as “finding a good nanny and the safety of raw milk,” are being increasingly closed to the topic of whether or not to vaccinate their children. Opposing feelings run so high that to even allow the topic to come up opens the forum to what can quickly become personal and hurtful. So to even bring the subject up is to get yourself banned from the site. In other words, they’re not going to allow the discussion because no one seems to know how to behave themselves in the face of differing opinions.
It sounds childish, but it’s as true in social contexts as it is in political and religious ones.
In the same newspaper on the same day was an article that spoke of a 70% gap in approval ratings for President Obama between Republicans and Democrats over his sixth year as president. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats approved of the job Obama was doing while only 9% of Republicans approved. The article also pointed that the same 70% gap existed in President Bush’s sixth year, only the other way around.
“In the last half-century, the only years that showed more polarization than Obama’s sixth year were his — and Bush’s — fourth and fifth years.” In other words, this has been going on for some time. The whole idea of respecting the office of the President of the United States of America regardless of party, and learning to work together for the good of the country, is a vanishing concept. And Christians have been among the worst offenders.
All of this is to indicate a cultural trend that we as followers of Christ need to avoid whenever possible. If our biggest concern is for people to know the saving power of Jesus Christ, then we want to avoid making enemies over social, political or even religious issues. We should be those filled with grace for those with differing opinions. Jesus told us to love our enemies. What good is it to love only those who agree with us; everyone does that. If we want to show that we are children of our heavenly Father, who causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, we will treat those who differ with us with the same love and respect we want for ourselves (Matthew 5:43-47). They have a right to their thoughts and beliefs just as we do. It’s only in the common support of those freedoms that we can have a reasonable and civil discussion. Let’s be known as those who can diffuse these volatile powder kegs, versus setting them off.
Today is Presidents’ Day, honoring two of our great presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. As we honor their memory, let’s also honor the office of the president and lend our support for President Obama, not because we agree with him, but because he is our president.
For more on this topic, click here to listen to our fascinating BlogTalkRadio interview with Os Guinness, author of The Global Public Square.