My younger daughter ran for student council representative for her class last week. She ended her speech with the words, “I’m C______ Fairchild, and I approved this message.” Clearly, someone has seen and heard too many political advertisements. Doesn’t it seem like we’ve all seen and heard too many of those? And it’s only September.
As the general election nears, it’s easy to get caught up in the political rhetoric being slung around. But be careful. Your kids are watching you.
No matter what you think about the current, former or future occupants of the White House, demeaning the office of the president is dangerous. Getting caught up in the polarization and political mud-slinging hurts not just our country but our kids. Raising kids who are unable to have a rational discourse about the direction of our country may well be one of the most harmful things we’ve done for our country.
It seems as if we’ve forgotten that God’s admonitions about words apply to political discourse as well. We think it’s OK to demean the members of the other party. We think it’s OK to say disrespectful things about the president. We think it’s acceptable to sling words of hate when it comes to politics.
But it’s not. And when we do it, we teach our kids that we don’t respect the office of president, and neither should they. That’s not what God wants. No matter how much we disagree with someone else’s views, God doesn’t ever condone disrespect and hate.
Romans 13:1 says “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” And that’s followed by Romans 13:7, which says “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
We don’t have to like everything our government does. We don’t even have to like the people who are part of our government, but we do have to acknowledge their authority and offer them the respect due the office in which they sit. Just because we’re talking about politics, it doesn’t exempt us from the words of Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Most of the political conversation that I hear these days won’t stand up to the standards of Romans 13 and Ephesians 4:29. And that tells our kids two things: 1. that it’s OK to have no respect for the office of president and 2. that God’s commands don’t apply to politics. Neither of those are true, and neither are things I want my kids to learn.
So, my plea to you this political season is think before you speak. Keep in mind that even if you don’t like the candidate, the office deserves your respect. Remember the standards of Ephesians 4:29 apply to political discussions as well. If we can do that, we just might tone down some of the hateful rhetoric and teach our kids how to have a reasonable debate about the issues facing our country.