Gilbert Kerrigan, Senior Minister
I typically do not speak of politics, especially in my preaching and teaching. I tend to be a bit of a Lipscombite, which actually has nothing to do with the school itself. David Lipscomb, for whom the school is named, was deeply impacted by the Civil War. He watched Christians on both sides killing each other over political agendas, and he was convicted by his observation that Christians were much more passionate about kingdoms of this world and much too involved in the politics of those kingdoms. Therefore, he was adamantly opposed to Christians involving themselves in the political processes of our nation, and he strongly felt that our duty was to be passionate about and involved in the kingdom of God.
So, I will admit upfront that this is my bias when it comes to politics. My experience has been that politics brings out the worst in people, and Christians are not exempt from this. I have seen Christians mudsling with the best of them!
With that in mind, I would like to offer what I am going to call Christian Etiquette for Political Participation. I offer you these rules of etiquette:
- Use your words to build up and encourage, not to tear down and demonize. This is especially true on social media. Paul says, “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” (Eph. 4:29).
- Do not spread gossip and lies. Check your facts! Don’t just check the facts given to you by biased resources. Be willing to hear both sides with an open mind. The Bible is full of scriptures that speak to the dangers of spreading gossip and offering false testimony about others.
- Do not contribute to the rhetoric of fear used by so many today. We are not a people of fear, or at least we are not supposed to be. The most repeated command in the Bible is do not fear. John speaks of fear when he writes, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). The “doom and gloom” message of many in the church today comes from a place of fear. This should not be!
- Honor, respect, and pray for those who hold offices in our nation. Paul tells Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
- Do to others as you would have them do to you. Straight from the mouth of Jesus (Luke 6:31). I think this is pretty self explanatory, and I believe this applies to the way we treat and talk about politicians.
- Do not let the political process distract you from seeking first the kingdom of God. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry… But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:25-34).
Despite my Lipscombite leanings, I would never try to encourage anyone to abstain from the political process, but I would offer this challenge: be a light in the midst of darkness. Make sure your participation in the process looks wholly different from the participation of those who do not know Christ. As an American Christian participating in the political process, be less American and more Christian.