I’ve enjoyed helping to teach Sunday School in the past few weeks. In case you missed it, we’ve taken up a timely topic titled, Civility: American Politics and Christian Responses.
On this Election Day and in the weeks that follow, it’s good to be mindful of the 4 virtues of civility we’ve discussed. We may not be able to affect big changes in the tone of political debate “out there,” but the way we are with each other and with the people in our own circles of influence can make a positive difference. What if we renewed our commitment to the 4 virtues?
1. Exhibiting Patience in civil conversation leads us to talk with those who disagree with us, but at least as importantly, patience insists that we listen to them.
2. Integrity is the commitment to represent our own positions and those of our opponents truthfully.
3. Humility reminds us that we do not know everything there is to know on a particular issue, so that it is likely we have something to learn from the perspective of our ideological opponents.
4. Mutual respect demands that even in the midst of intense disagreement, we honor our opponents as human beings, as citizens with a right to engage in politics and to be heard.
It is helpful to think of the 4 virtues as connected to the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). They grow in us as we are connected to Jesus and he’s shaping our hearts, the way we think, and the way we act. We have those virtues because that’s who he is, and we are bound together in him.
Or, to ask a question: how does your relationship with Jesus influence the way you engage in discussions and debate about politics and social issues- at home, at work, online, or wherever you go? There may be a lack of civility “out there,” but what about in you?
May Grace Abound,