Christian values are the ideals from our faith to which we aspire in our living and relating. We seek to make these idealized values into our personal virtues – molding what we believe into what we live. In contrast, many of us have been dismayed at the tone of the presidential campaign, as the values we believe to be Christian have often been replaced by disrespect, dishonesty, and divisiveness.
This concern has nothing to do with political positions, but everything to do with how those positions are expressed. I am writing from the same voice I used in my thinking on integrity, urging us to embrace the relational values and morals of our faith. For over a year we have been exposed to verbal attacks, hostility, and deceptiveness. Yet we know people can disagree without being dismissive or mean-spirited. Debating an issue does not require insulting one’s opponent. Or, at least, it shouldn’t.
In this writing I am neither red nor blue. I am echoing the message of Jesus as he minced no words in his warning against “whoever insults his brother” and “whoever says, ‘you fool!’” (Matthew 5:22) I am writing from the same perspective as the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, when he wrote that his followers should “speak no evil of the person they voted against.”
As this political ride has played out before us, my concern is that our society could come to accept this lowered moral bar as the “new normal” – that we become acclimated to it and intuitively reset our default position. Just as dress or attire has become increasingly casual, which is fine, moral behavior could become equally casual, which is not fine.
The disrespect to which our children have been exposed in this past year violates the earliest lessons they learned from us. We taught them not to be rude or bullying or hurtful. I can only imagine how difficult it is for parents to insist on far better behavior from their children than they see on the evening news.
The words of the scriptures come back to us, “Do not be conformed to this world… but be transformed by the renewal of your minds.” Transformation is at the heart of our faith. “Do not be conformed to this world,” is our reminder to reclaim and live out our moral lives at their finest.
In our reflections this fall, may we intentionally decide not to be conformed to the diluted values of this world – but rather be transformed by the faithful renewal of our minds to the true values and ideals embodied in our Christian faith.
Prayer: Lord, help us to remember who we are. In Christ name. Amen.