In less than three weeks the American people will cast their votes, elect a new president, and end months of fierce campaigning. It will hopefully also end many of the divisions among Christians in this particularly divisive election season.
For month we’ve seen rifts in churches and on social media. The most disheartening division, though, has occurred in homes. It’s natural that many of us feel compelled to talk with our parents about political issues. But are we doing it in a way that shows them love and honor?
I’m a millennial, live and work in the heart of Washington D.C., and have been forced to learn how to graciously talk about the election with my peers, my professional colleagues, and most importantly, my parents.
Here are four reflections on discussing the election with your parents.
1. Be Respectful
When talking with your parents about the election, the most important thing to remember is respect. Even if we don’t always see eye to eye, it’s absolutely vital to behave in a gracious and kind manner. Immediately prior to the discussion on government in Romans 13, we’re commanded to “be devoted to one another in love” and to “honor one another above ourselves” (Rom. 12:10). The outside world is tuning in to hear evangelicals’ thoughts on this election. But even more important than the words we speak is what we reveal through our actions and attitudes.
As a millennial, I want our generation to be known as respectful and kindhearted. Unfortunately, we have sometimes developed a reputation for speaking before we think. Let’s change that perception with how we treat our parents during this election. Instead of complaining that they “just don’t get it,” or ranting about how crazy their views are, let’s speak graciously both to and about our parents.
2. It’s Okay to Disagree
Seriously, it’s not the end of the world to disagree on politics. There are some people I immensely respect and yet adamantly disagree with on this election. It’s okay not to agree on everything. And just because you disagree doesn’t necessarily mean you’re right.
You should be encouraged to have thoughtful and deep discussions with your parents regarding the election. But keep in mind that sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to say nothing at all. You don’t have to voice your opinion all the time, and just because you think or feel something doesn’t mean you need to share it. As Proverbs says, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Prov. 29:11).
3. Relationships Last Longer than Elections
Don’t sacrifice a relationship to win an argument. Your relationships will last well past November 8, so interact with your parents in such a way that will ensure your relationship isn’t ruined because of who gets elected.
There are some political issues I disagree with my parents on, but my love for them and their love for me transcends our views about the next president. When your kids ask you about the election of 2016, may we be able to say we sought to protect people over partisanship. And may that begin at home.
4. Be Humble and Willing to Listen
We should acknowledge that our parents are older, often wiser, and have more life experience (and elections) under their belts than we do. Even if your heart is knit to a particular political conviction, be willing to listen to why your parents think and feel the way they do. Even if you never come to agree with their views, you will have treated them with dignity and respect. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace,” the Bible says, “but with the humble is wisdom” (Prov. 11:2).
This election is temporary, but our witness throughout it could have an eternal effect. As we engage with our parents, may we be an accurate and compassionate portrayal of the character of Christ. Some may never read a Bible, but they will read us. Our words and deeds carry a lot of weight and, by God’s grace, will carry the gospel. Our character will last after Election Day; may we maintain an eternal mindset now.
Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). May the world know that we are his disciples by how we love our parents. And may our parents know we care more about them than we do about politics.