Christian Principles and Our Political Differences
If there’s a possibility of a bright spot in the current presidential election campaign as well as the ongoing circus known as Alabama politics, it’s learning that it has been far easier to wean myself from the 24/7 news cycle and political commentary than I thought possible.
By no means have I shut down access to all news sources or turned a blind eye to the current issues that tremendously impact our communities, state, and nation, but I am attempting moderation to maintain a degree of sanity.
That effort recently led me to a short book I had purchased a few months ago but had put aside for later reading. The book delves into the Christian topic of grace and truth, and in an ironic twist for someone hoping for a respite from politics, the author discusses political grace and truth towards the end of the book.
In The Grace and Truth Paradox by Randy Alcorn, the author explores his perspective that conservatives often place value on truth (morals) while liberals tend to focus on grace (compassion). Both are necessary components in a civilized society, particularly to those of faith, but are not an end in and of themselves.
If those on both sides of the political aisle, myself included, are truly honest with ourselves, perhaps we can see that an emphasis on one element without the other puts us on a direct collision course resulting in the animosity and resentment that is increasingly prevalent in our nation today. For those who identify as Christian conservatives, the truth and grace paradox should be of major importance in how we also respond to political issues.
Conservatives and liberals are now screaming so loudly at each other that no one cares to listen. Worse, we are continuing at breakneck speed down a path of financial and cultural destruction because we allow those politically responsible for the damage to further divide us racially, socially, and economically while our war of words escalates across all manner of communication.
Extending political grace doesn’t mean we ignore public corruption, give our elected representation a pass for harmful or overreaching legislation, or reward poor public service by continually re-electing that person(s) to office. It doesn’t mean that we no longer stand firm for values and principles that strengthen our families and our communities. Political grace also should not equate as tolerance for anything and everything that makes someone “happy” if it is in direct contradiction of moral standards. Truth protects us, our children, and our society from harmful consequences and it is our duty as citizens to defend and protect those who are the most vulnerable.
By the same measure, those of us who stand for political truth must acknowledge and hold accountable those on “our side” who attempt to exploit conservative values for political gain. We must fully educate ourselves on issues so that we are not easily misled by campaign rhetoric distorting voting records and be willing to challenge candidates and public officials when facts are manipulated to serve the purpose of obtaining elected office. But all levels of accountability need to be addressed with a dose of grace to encourage civil discussion rather than stoking the fires of anger. I’ve personally experienced my share of anger with politicians and know firsthand just how difficult it is to extend that grace with someone I oppose politically. It’s a matter in which I must hold myself accountable before pointing my finger elsewhere.
Alcorn’s thoughts regarding political truth and grace are best expressed in this excerpt:
“Why should we have to choose between conservatism’s emphasis on truth and liberalism’s emphasis on grace? Why can’t we oppose injustice to minorities and to the unborn? Why can’t we oppose greedy ruination of the environment and anti-industry New Age environmentalism? Why can’t we affirm the biblical right to the ownership of property and emphasize God’s call to voluntarily share wealth with the needy? Why can’t we uphold God’s condemnation of sexual immorality, including homosexual practices, and reach out in love and compassion to those trapped in destructive lifestyles and dying from AIDS?”
So much will happen politically in our state and nation in the weeks and months to come – I imagine there will be ample opportunities for us to apply the principles of truth and grace in how we react to all of it.
Alcorn, Randy. The Grace and Truth Paradox. Sisters: Multnomah, 2003. Print.
Marcia Chambliss serves on the leadership team of Smart Girl Politics, an online community for conservative women. She can be reached at: Marcia@sgpaction.com. Her views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart Girl Politics.