Ferguson, ISIS, the Affordable Care Act, “discrimination laws” — there is no shortage of turmoil in our world and no shortage of suggested “solutions” to the problem. I would also assume that many of you have been driven to rage at the Facebook status of someone who just doesn’t “get it.” Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you lean, you believe your conservative/liberal policies are obviously best, and only a complete dunderhead would disagree.
But what if I told you that the issues you argue about are not the issues you are actually arguing about? An example from G.K. Chesterton will help me clarify:
When someone is sick, they go to a hospital. In some cases, doctors will disagree on what has caused the illness, and they might even disagree on the best course of treatment.
Political arguments are usually thought of like disagreeing doctors. Both sides agree that there is a problem, just not what is the best way to treat it. But as Chesterton points out, there is one major difference. In medicine, all doctors agree on how a healthy body should look and function. And while they might not agree on how to make that body healthy, they still are working toward the same ideal on what a healthy body is.
This is why political arguments are often pointless: We have reached a point in our culture where there are many competing ideas on what constitutes a good and healthy society, how it should look and how it should function. Political policies are meant to achieve different goals. When your “dumb” friends don’t want the same end results as you, then of course they will think different policies are best.
I’d be willing to bet most of you are like me — meaning you have never actually convinced someone to vote your way or take on your morals just by arguing with them. As Christians, we see moral decay, which should be pointed out; but then we think we will convince non-believers that the things such as abortion, same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana, etc., are really bad. We use all sorts of methods such as such as picketing, boycotting and hoping our political heroes will really “give them the business” on a cable news talk show.
I have a question for us all: How’s that working out? It’s not. Those things might be fine to do, but truly, there’s only one person who changes hearts and minds and that’s Jesus. We can post 24/7 on Facebook and Twitter (guilty), sit around and complain with our friends over morning coffee or even try to tell people how to vote from the pulpit, but it will be all to no avail if we are not reaching people for Christ.
When you talk to someone about the news of the day and what should be done about this fallen world, you have to understand that, as a Christian, you are starting from the presupposition that God has a will for this world and our goals should be to make the world resemble that will. If you are arguing with someone who does not accept that presupposition, you’re wasting time and probably pushing them further away from the gospel.
It is fine to point out problems in the world, but keep in mind that no political solution will change a human being. Only Jesus can do that. And when it comes to turning hateful over political debates, may He start by changing the hearts of those who claim to follow Him.