A Miscalculation

I think I may have made a miscalculation.

I assumed I could have a reasonable, tolerant, civil conversation on facebook about politics. I know, I know, I should have known better, but I thought it was possible. I guess I underestimated  how passionate people are about this election. After all, “IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN OUR LIFETIME”…or at least the most important election since 2008, which was “THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN OUR LIFETIME.” And of course I assume 2016 will be “THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN OUR LIFETIME.” Then, of course, there is 2020 and 2024 and 2028 and 2032 and 2036 and 2040 and………..

I also assumed people were taught, like I was, that my responsibility was to only vote my conscience; nothing more nothing less. Furthermore, I was taught we should respect everyone’s right to vote their own conscience. But I was even wrong about that! Apparently if my conscience doesn’t line up with your conscience than my conscience is unconscionable.

I thought my civic duty was to vote, but apparently my civic duty is to vote…just like you vote.

I know, I know, I am painting with a broad brush. I apologize. I still think most people think like I do, but they are my mini-version of the silent majority. Only passionate people are brave enough to post anything on facebook and so if they agree with me they agree passionately. If they disagree with me, they disagree passionately. I now understand that is the nature of facebook. I’ve got 1,200 friends on facebook. I bet less than 100 have ever said anything to me. I guess facebook is designed for superficial, feel good stuff only.

Apparently, most people on facebook are only there to look at everyone else’s vacation pictures.

Others are only there to relive the moment they got engaged or married or had children. It’s amazing how all these events happened on starry nights or sunny days. Apparently no one is ever married or born during a tornado or blizzard, and somehow everyone has married the most amazing person in the world and have the greatest kids ever. Of course that can’t be true because I have the most amazing wife and greatest kids and logic dictates there can only be one most amazing and one greatest (although I have 2 greatest kids).

The biggest majority of people on facebook are creepers. They just browse and read and look and like, but never post anything. I now know why. If you don’t post anything then no one can criticize your status.

I don’t mind criticism. I am used to it. I write stuff hoping people will read. I write stuff hoping to make people think and consider different ways of thinking. I believe you learn more from differing perspectives than you do just reading people who already think like you. Believe it or not, I do not write for a reaction, but I do write for a response. I like dialogue. I am not a big fan of debate. I am a huge proponent of mutual respect.

But I miscalculated people’s abilities to entertain a thought different from their own.

Instead of having a conversation, the moment people disagree, civility stops and name calling begins.

Because I have been brave (or stupid) enough to post that I will be voting third party here are some things people have said to me either publically or privately, either directly or by implication:

  • You are wasting your vote.
  • You are not being a good steward of your vote.
  • You are really voting for Obama.
  • You are a secret Obama lover and hoping he will win, and you are a coward for not just coming out and admitting it.
  • A vote for a third-party is a vote for Obama and how can you vote for him because of his views on abortion and same-sex marriage?
  • You will be personally responsible for the downfall of our country.
  • You don’t care about the future of your children and grandchildren.
  • You are an immature child.
  • You are an idiot, stupid, unpatriotic, uninformed.
  • You think you are more moral and righteous than the rest of us but a third-party vote is not a moral vote.
  • If you don’t vote for Romney you are being immoral.
  • You are a secret socialist liberal.
  • How can you be a Christian, much less a pastor?
  • Why don’t you just stay at home and sit on the couch like all the other lazy people who will vote for Obama.
  • You don’t care about this country.
  • You have your head in the sand.
  • Get your head out of your #$%*

What is really amazing is how many Christians have said these things and how many of those Christians are fellow pastors! A few people have told me they admire me for being willing to dialogue. I appreciate that very much.

I have tried to explain myself. Over the past year I have blogged about how I have been thinking and why I am thinking this way. I have given more thought and prayers to this election than any election I have ever participated in. But I am tired of explaining and defending myself.

As far as I know I have not called people names, questioned their motives, wondered about their intellect, or doubted their spiritual maturity based on how they vote. If you feel I have, I apologize. If you feel I have personally attacked you, I am deeply sorry. Please forgive me. I have tried to be civil, but I am human.

I thought we could have a rational, thoughtful, public conversation. But I guess we can’t.

As we get closer to November 6th, here is some things I am trying to remember:

  1. God is sovereign. He already knows who is going to win and He doesn’t seem to be worried or afraid. I will place my faith, trust, hope, and 401k, in Him.
  2. The sun will rise on November 7th and I will go to work and swim and bible study that evening.
  3. I will pray for the president, regardless of who it is, and I will support him to the best of my ability.
  4. My real citizenship is in heaven and I will continue to do all I can to bring God’s kingdom into present day reality.
  5. I will not give into, nor support, any political arguments based on fear.
  6. The people of the United States are what makes us great, not our politicians. I choose to believe in the people and our resiliency to protect our way of life.

What do you think?

Why can’t we seem to have more civil conversations when it comes to politics?

(Some of us can. I spent lunch on Tuesday with 3 great pastor friends of mine. We talked for almost 2 hours about politics and not once did anyone get mad, and we don’t agree on everything. I left lunch enlightened, educated, and encouraged. Thanks Jay, David, and Chris.)

One last thing, I may have also made a miscalculation about the election. It seems the polls are moving toward a Romney win.

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18 thoughts on “A Miscalculation

  1. Thank you once again Kevin for voicing what I sometimes find difficult to articulate. I begin a 4 week series this Sunday called Providence and Presidents and I will make the same points you have made in this blog about the sovereignty of God. There is hostility in my multi-political church and I have to handle this series with great wisdom. I’ve found the only things more divisive than discussing politics in the church are discussing race and money. (It’s ironic how all three of these subjects are connected!) The beautiful thing is that the Bible discusses politics in abundance, therefore, I can preach on politics. The problem comes (and rightfully so) if I choose to preach on partisan politics from God’s pulpit. I grew up hearing pastors use God’s pulpit to support democratic and republican candidates as if God personally gave His endorsements for each of them. Like you, I will vote third party but I will not publicly tell my congregation. Unfortunately, most of my black and white members assume I’m voting for President Obama.

    Like you, I love a rich dialogue. I have little tolerance or time for a close-minded debate.

  2. Kevin, I just reread James, chapter 3 and it speaks very well of your sentiments. I emphathize with your frustrations about your attempt to have civil public discourse about politics, but you were a bit naive to think you could, as a pastor, have a blog that says “an integration of society and religion”, get involved in these type of discussions and state your opinions and not stir up a hornet’s nest. You did nothing wrong, but anytime you venture into topics of “the world” (politics, gay rights, abortion, healthcare, etc.) versus topics of “the kingdom” you are dealing with opposing spiritual forces and interjecting your interpretation of truth instead of simply stating God’s truth. Nothing wrong with that, and as a pastor that is part of your calling. However, don’t be surprised at the criticism, and be sure your speech “is seasoned with salt” and presented after much prayer and searching of scripture. Then when the criticisms and disagreements come, reexamine them and your view in light of scripture, and count yourself privileged to to suffer the “slings and arrows” of this world as a servant of Christ. Thanks for being a friend and Brother.

  3. Excellent thoughts in my opinion. In a world of way too many blogs, yours stands out to me. It gave me a few thoughts:
    1. My dad taught me young principles of conflict resoultion from Acts 15. Everyone listened, the Bible was preeminant, and nobody got exactly what they wanted, not even Paul. I think you are an Acts 15 person.
    2. I am glad you are vocal about politics while staying “above it”. The crowd who has washed their hands of political discussion is no different than party extremes to me.
    3. Similarly, I’m glad you still vote. Jesus washing Judas’ feet makes me think right is right regardless of the result. Voting is one way to wash Judas’ feet to me.
    4. Love the Facebook analysis. I have 3 books on FB and modern “community” (secular and Christian perspectives) and I think you nailed it much more breifly.
    5. I still want that coffee sometime.

  4. Excellent thoughts in my opinion. In a world of way too many blogs, yours stands out to me. It gave me a few thoughts:
    1. My dad taught me young principles of conflict resoultion from Acts 15. Everyone listened, the Bible was preeminant, and nobody got exactly what they wanted, not even Paul. I think you are an Acts 15 person.
    2. I am glad you are vocal about politics while staying “above it”. The crowd who has washed their hands of political discussion is no different than party extremes to me.
    3. Similarly, I’m glad you still vote. Jesus washing Judas’ feet makes me think right is right regardless of the result. Voting is one way to wash Judas’ feet to me.
    4. Love the Facebook analysis. I have 3 books on FB and modern “community” (secular and Christian perspectives) and I think you nailed it much more breifly.
    5. I still want that coffee sometime. k

  5. Thank you for sharing this with everyone. I can tell that much thought and consideration has gone into your article. There is so much anger among people who don’t agree about this election. Friends lost….all because they don’t believe just like the masses. It is refreshing to read something speaking tolerance and consideration. Thank you again.

  6. Sorry my thing posted twice. Don’t know how to delete it. For the sake of cheap, my cell service is awful. And I make it down there almost every year, so if I beat you, I will let you know I’m coming. Outside of Tookeydoo, SC and Chicago, Nashville is by far the place where I feel most at home.

  7. I appreciate your post here, and agree. I’m one of those who (mostly) won’t discuss politics. I hate confrontations, and here in the USA, and with Christians in particular, it’s never a conversation about politics, but a tirade or speech. So, I do what I can, educate myself on politicians history and opinions on the issues, pray, vote, and keep my opinions to myself. Personally, I’m happy to be living outside the USA during election years.

    P.S. I’m one of the many Facebook lurkers – I enjoy hearing all about the kids and grandkids, families and events; for me it’s more like “PrayerBook”.

  8. Kevin,
    Your comments have been right on. Sadly the “church” has not been willing to be biblical on many of the issues plaguing our society. We need candor and boldness in our Christian walk, not more theology.

  9. Are you trying to say that your really going to vote 3rd party? That you’re not going to vote republican? That you’re not not going to vote democrate? Just kidding, thanks though for your courage and bringing some levity (and sanity) to the stinky reality!

  10. Bill, I don’t understand your statement. “We need candor and boldness in our Christian walk, not more theology.” Theology is by definition using the Bible to study and understand God better. That is commanded in 2 Tim. 2:15, and reinforced in 2 Tim. 3:16. I would submit there is too much candor and boldness based on mistruth (Jer. 17:9), because of a lack of theology. I Cor. 2:1-5.

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