Across The Table W/Melody Gardner on Christianity and Politics Part 1
With the tension in the Christian community over the election, I wanted to hear from a dear friend of ours Melody Gardner,, who authored the book Christianity and Politics, on ways we can honor Christ and each other as we have political conversations.
This topic is important as we do life together with women in our community and encourage each other to vote or as conversations arise after we’ve voted. These dialogues are happening and can be good, so we want to encourage you to be prepared with a godly perspective. Each interaction we have with one another can point us closer to the true God or communicate a false God assumed by our own perceptions. Politics is one of the big areas in which this can tend to happen. Kim and I got to talk with Melody on my front porch and part of the conversation that night went something like this...
Me: It feels like so much division in the body of Christ right now, with people taking very firm stances on who we as believers should or should not align ourselves with. You wrote this book a few years ago but it could not be more relevant than it is today - What inspired you to write a book on politics?
Melody: It was sparked by a conversation with a friend years ago. During the conversation, she assumed that we shared the same views on politics because we are Christians, which led to a troublesome debate and one of many that I would have over the years with others. These conversations left me grieved and looking for answers from the Lord, which led me to doing an intensive Biblical study on the topic that eventually birthed the book.
Me: As we talk with with the women in our life, what should we be mindful of? What do you think the issue was within the conversation?Melody: The issue was in the way we treated each other as we talked. It dishonored the Lord, and we dishonored each other. In these conversations, we can place too much focus and value on our facts and how right we are and not on the other person who is our sister in Christ.
Me: Are there any other factors that you think affect our views?
Melody: Life experiences and social prejudices. These shaped our belief system. They shape us all. But in my case, we allowed these differences to keep us from genuinely caring for one another.
Me: Many of us have had these conversations that have not gone well. Have you had conversations about this election that went well? Melody: Yes, If a conversation went well, it was because we treated each other as sisters in Christ. And neither person treated who the other person voted for as a conviction-level issue worthy of breaking fellowship. Our ballot decision should not be more important than our relationship as sisters in Christ
Kim: There have been people that I’ve known who have ended friendships due to the other person not voting the ways she did. Her reasoning was, “We don’t share the same values, so I don’t see how we can be friends.”
Me: Wow, that’s drastic. When you discover that your views may be different, it may change the dynamic of your relationship but it shouldn’t end it.
Ya’ll, I wish you could have been a fly on the wall, because this post couldn’t capture all that was said. It is so tempting for us to avoid dialogue about this topic for fear of conflict, but honestly it can be healthy and helpful. Here are some of the main points of the first half of our conversation for you to remember as you engage in political dialogue so that it will be more helpful than harmful:
- Honor Christ above all.
- Know and share facts, but focus on loving your sister more than being right.
- Consider and ask about the person’s life experiences that have possibly shaped her views. (Be a good listener & ask good questions)
- Focus on what you can agree on.
- Be willing to end the conversation respectfully when you see it going down an ugly path.
- Be confident that a political party does not define your faith in Christ, the Cross does.
There was another part of our conversation that is so key, and it stemmed from a quote in her book:
“But perhaps the greatest reason we were not able to reconcile our differences that day was our individual views of God. After a lengthy two-hour discussion, it became apparent that our view of God was different. We valued and held in high esteem different virtues of God that shaped our Christian worldview and influenced significantly how we saw our vote politically.”
When Melody, Kim and I talked about our Christian worldview, it gave me great perspective that I can’t wait to share with you in Part 2. I felt it best to save this for Wednesday, after the election, so that we will look to Jesus regardless of who won. Until then, remember these perspectives as you talk with women in your life. And if you can't wait until Wednesday, click below to *purchase her book.