Donkeys, Elephants, And A Lesson Learned at Chick-Fil-A

My wife Christina & I are now headed into our third presidential election season. I mention that because this presidential election season has been a complete contrast to the previous two presidential elections we’ve gone through together.

It has been peaceful!

Why?

Not because we are now both members of the same party, to be honest Christina won’t even tell me what party she is registered with, if any. Nor has she confirmed her vote in any of the previous elections. I always want to talk about whom I just voted for & my dear wife sits there silently, not taking any of the bait.

It is not because I no longer pay attention to politics. I still read the news articles and head to Real Clear Politics almost every single day to see the latest polls.

Nor because she is less involved, her involvment has always been zero ’till election time, so you can’t go much less than that.

No, the reason this election season is peaceful is because I’ve repented!

I’ve repented of all the years of my life I put politics ahead of the Gospel!

That is what I believe happens when Pastors, well really all Christians, enter the fray of the political dialogue to such a degree that they are willing to alienate another human being over a political conviction.

I learned this lesson again just recently, when I decided to visit a Chick-fil-a for the first time ever in my life. I went not based on a moral conviction regarding the issue at hand or due to my loyalty to any political party. I went simply because I was irritated with a politician I heard tell people not to frequent the business based on the owners particular point of view.

I posted a picture of my wife returning to our car with the caption “waiting in line for the first and probably last time at a Chick-Fil-a.”

By the time I got home, my Facebook was lit up with comments most supportive, but quite a number in angst over my decision to go to the Chick-Fil-a. My initial reaction was to get defensive and even mad at those that were so bothered…but then I stepped back and I agreed with the people that were mad at me, I was mad at me too!

I was not mad at myself for the same reason most of them were, but I was mad at myself for needlessly entering a battle that was a no-win situation as most battles fought through political means are!

This election season I had done so well at keeping my mouth shut. Not posting any opinions about the candidates. Not even pressing “like” on the political satire constantly being posted on Facebook. Christina had not had to tell me every Sabbath afternoon to stop talking politics (that is why it is peaceful now:)). I have not felt the need to throw under handed digs into my sermons against one party or another. I have not posted video clips of one candidate or another that clearly shows my endorsement, without ever actually endorsing anyone (since that would be illegal for me as a pastor). But now just like that, in just a moments time with one simple picture and post on Facebook, I was back in the thick of it and I had people in support and people in opposition going at it on my Facebook page. This was something I would have loved in years past, but that I now despise!

I despise, because Jesus deserves better than having one of His children putting politics ahead of the Gospel.

And that is exactly what we are doing whenever we choose to have an argument about politics, publically endorse a candidate, put a political placard in our front yard, or slap a bumper sticker onto our car that will alienate one group for the sake of rallying another.

During the 2010 Congressional Elections as I was becoming my usual heated self, ready and willing to have debates with both sides of the aisle and considering myself “oh such a balanced person”, Jesus convicted my heart. He asked me very clearly, “are you willing to sacrifice your ability to witness to someone for the joy of being right about a political candidate.”

My answer is NO!

The Salvation of all mankind Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, etc. is far more important to me than any position I have.

But when I choose to voicferously express my political views.

When I choose to post political digs on my twitter or facebook accounts against particular parties or individuals.

When I am willing to have an argument or even an intense discussion about politics…

In this politically polarized and politcally caustic society I am essentially choosing to say, “I care more about my views and what I want than being a witness to you.”

Thus, I care more about myself and my way of life than I do your eternal salvation!

I still enjoy & even care very much about what is happening in the political world. It is my hobby–but it is now a personal hobby, between me, myself, & I.

And I repent for the years I put politics ahead of the Gospel. The election of a candidate over the witness of Jesus. Me over you.

It is peaceful in our home this election season because Jesus is the only individual worth publically endorsing!

 

  • Great blog, Chad. I’m much less Republican than I used to be. These days, all politics seem to hold out false hope. I recently chatted with a person closely related to a prominent conservative pastor (Now, don’t try to figure out who it is!). They said when the family gets together all they talk about is how great Obama is. They never talk about Jesus.I actually like what you did at chick-fil-a. Where is freedom of speech in that whole thing? Crazy.

  • Priorities, all about priorities! Politics definitely come behind gospel – but does there come a time when some degree of engagement in politics is necessary to keep from presenting a warped gospel? The church in Germany during WWII kept quiet, to avoid making a ruckus, but as a result lost a lot of credibility. Perhaps a stand on timeless Biblical principles, which can be applied by each as fitting or not fitting the candidates and parties at hand?

  • Shawn Brace

    Good thoughts, Chad. I am not incredibly invested in the political process but I get into trouble frequently because I am so nonchalant about it and ridicule it and the whole process. I find the whole thing more amusing, than anything, but this makes people upset because it is their life – even Christians! It is really a no-win situation, though, as you say.As for Chick-fil-a: I was a little disappointed that so many Christians got on board with that whole thing. While I appreciate free speech and agree with the guy’s stance on that particular issue, I wouldn’t say that my views align exactly with the way he expressed them. He didn’t seem to deliver his views in a Christlike way and would, therefore, have a hard time getting in his corner. Just my two cents.

  • Kessia Reyne Bennett

    I’m willing to alienate people by standing up for the causes of justice and social righteousness (diluted as it may be)—sometimes by voicing what will be heard as a political comment. I rarely do this, though, since most party politics more often prevent sincere talk than predicate it. But with that exception, I agree very much with your recently adopted stance of more witness less political speech đŸ™‚

  • Chad Stuart

    I would say that if anyone were to read any other post on this blog they would know that I am obviously not speaking of standing up for "issues." Jesus calls us to stand up for the poor, the oppressed, etc.. What I am speaking of is doing so within a political context that lends itself only to alienation. I would never ask anyone to quit standing for Biblical truth and that indeed at times alienates as well; but that is much different than standing w/ a party or endorsing a candidate. And I fear that it is laziness on behalf of Christians to simply stand for issues within the political realm. If a person is for the poor why does that have to be a political discussion? Wouldn’t the greatest act to be to empower to work with to serve amongst the poor? If a person is pro-life why does that have to be about politics, why not endeavor in ways to work with at risk young ladies. Aren’t you then standing up for causes of justice and social righteousness without being political?

  • Leif

    Thank you Chad for your reasoned and reasonable discussion.

  • Allow me to post here what I put on FB:I agree with parts: we need to pastor both sides of the flock, but think about it this way…to claim the name of Christ in the 1st century was a politically subversive act: Christ over the Caesar. The book of Colossians is a politically revolutionary document. There are points in which being a Christian makes you counter cultural and the Christian should be willing to stand up for issues that Jesus stood for, because to do so is to reveal what the Father is like.

  • Chad Stuart

    Rodlie I would push back just a little maybe if I am understanding your point correctly. Just because those issues were perceived as political this does not make them political positions. They were faith positions that reached in and impacted the political world. My article is addressing political positions that thus reach out and impact our inability to serve as we should from a faith position.

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