Before I begin, let me just come out and say that I support Barack Obama. I know that it’s practically unheard-of for a Christian (much less a Southern Baptist church member) to support a Democratic candidate, but there you go. If I’ve learned anything from George W. Bush, it’s that the Conservative Right isn’t always, well, right. But I’d better hop down from that soapbox for civility’s sake.

Most of the people I work with and go to church with are conservative, so I try not to start up political conversations with people I’m sure to disagree with, or I at least try to be gracious in my disagreement. I care about most of these people, and would hate to give up good relationships with them over a political disagreement.

However, I do enjoy a friendly debate. I think political and even theological debates can be productive and enjoyable if there’s respect and civility from all participants. But this is where things tend to go south. I think the reason why politics and religion are considered taboo is that we forget that we can disagree and still get along. My political views are based on my human (read limited) interpretation of the world around me. While there are certain positions I doubt I’ll ever change on, I can’t insult another person’s intelligence or character if they disagree with me. There are godly and sound-minded people on both ends of the political spectrum. Neither conservatives nor liberals have it completely right (or completely wrong).

Plus, there’s the inescapable truth that no matter what side you’re on, you’re still casting your vote for a freaking politician. To further expound on this thought, let me borrow a line from Derek Webb:

“You can always trust the devil or a politician to be the devil or a politician.”

Now don’t get be wrong; I really like Obama. I think he represents a much-needed change in our political system, and it’s evident in the way he’s run his campaign. (For more on this, check out this guy’s reaction to meeting him before his campaign began.) Barack Obama is undoubtedly a different kind of politician. But he’s still just a politician, indeed, just a man. His ability to solve our problems is surface-level at best. Even his greatest efforts to improve our nation will be motivated, to some degree, by political expediency.

Maybe it was providential that Drea and I saw Derek Webb in concert this weekend. I have a lot of respect for this guy. His more recent music has a decidedly social/political orientation, but he’s also quick to remind us that political ideals are not the answer to our deepest issues. Hearing him speak at the concert reminded me of one particular truth: that the commands of Jesus to care for the poor and love our enemies have nothing to do with any political agenda. They have everything to do with His desire for us to reflect His love and servanthood in our interactions with the world. Who I vote for should be merely peripheral in light of this greater task. (I’m paraphrasing Webb’s words here.)

It’s for this reason that I believe it should be even easier for Christians to get along despite political differences. We have a common ground that transcends everything.

I guess my point is that for Christians, political discussion and action is worthwhile, but not nearly as worthwhile as our greater task of sharing the love and message of Christ. It would be a terrible shame to see this greater task overshadowed by our preoccupation with secondary political and moral issues, which I fear is the path we’re headed down.

So here’s to a ceasefire on the political front, and a renewed focus on the task, which will be the same whether we put a Republican or a Democrat in the White House.

Cheers!

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