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It’s Gonna Get Ugly

November 21, 2019

If you live in Oklahoma, you might think I’m talking about the last few games of the football season. And if that’s what you’re thinking, you’d be right that the saying applies, but wrong about what I have in mind.

I’m thinking of the “election cycle.” We’re a year away from the 2020 elections, and the ads have already begun to clutter the airways. There have been nationally broadcasted debates. Town hall meetings in Iowa, a key caucus state. Press releases and news conferences and personal appearances and fund-raisers. It’s going to get worse in the next 11 months. I’m just saying. And it’s gonna get ugly.

Before we go to the polls in November of 2020, the campaign trail will be thick with mud slung from all sides. There will be, as there always is, lies and half-truths. There will be attempted character assassinations. Endless tweets and retweets. Billions of dollars will be spent. In the end, there will be a winner and a loser. And at least four more years’ worth of ponderings by political pundits as to who the actual winner was. That’s just the way it works.

I’m broaching this in a blog for marriage and family months ahead of time because there’s one group of people who stand to lose a lot more than anybody else. Your kids. I’m not talking about how the outcome of the election might shape their destiny, though, frankly, there are some important ways this election could shape it. I’m talking about the angst they will feel from the acrimony of the process. If your kids are in grade school, I guarantee they will be exposed to the acrimony and divisiveness of the campaign. Probably as an attempt to involve them in the political process every citizen should be involved in, which is a good thing. Possibly (but not necessarily certainly, thank God) by teachers with a personal agenda. This, I feel, is not such a good thing. And possibly by their peers, as well.

Here’s what I advise you to do with this opportunity. Actually, what I advise you NOT to do. DO NOT BE PASSIVE! Don’t just let your young one(s) decide on their own, without your input. Give input! Don’t force them to take your political party and candidate, right or wrong, but give input. I believe it’s entirely right for parents to openly and rationally dialogue with their kids about the political parties and the various planks of their platform.

Bear this in mind as you do this, though. Though your kids are possibly far ahead of where you were, technologically, when you were their age, they’re still kids, immature and easily guided and misguided. They simply haven’t had enough life experience to have a very big and reliable grid to filter campaign promises and peer pressure through. So challenge their thinking without disrespecting them. Give input. Do your research and then give reasoned, logical, philosophically grounded and respectful input. This requires a large measure of maturity. If you’re not careful, you could end up in knock down, drag out fights over who to vote for. If this happens, even if your candidate wins, you lose.

And then this: DON’T PROJECT PANIC. Yes, there are some huge issues at risk in this election. Yes, there are some very frightening implications in whichever candidate is elected. (My personal opinion is that Christians have more to lose in this election they have in any election in the last 50 years.) There’s a lot at stake.

But even with this, there’s a reality that we must embrace so that we can pass it along to our kids. Forgive me for maybe sounding like a Facebook post, but the reality is regardless of who’s the President, Jesus is still King.

Whether your candidate wins or not, Jesus is still in control. God has made Him the Supreme Authority over everything, including the United States of America. I am fully convinced that nothing happens in this world without either the initiation or the permission of our sovereign God. This includes outcomes of elections. It is impossible to surprise Him, and impossible to thwart His eternal will, even though it has often seemed thwarted throughout history.

If we believe that God is in control and Jesus is still King, our behavior ought to show it. Our talk should show it, too. Our hope is only secondarily in imperfect candidates and an imperfect system (though still, in my opinion, the best on the planet). The foundation of our hope is Jesus Christ and His Lordship. If we lose sight of this, we’re toast. And if we don’t pass this along to our kids, they’ll be toast, too.

So talk with your kids. Listen to them. Ask them what they’re thinking and feeling about the election process when you’re eating supper, or when you’re running errands with them, or whenever you have non-threatening time with them. Seize teachable moments and leverage them for the sake of building into your kids’ developing character. Whichever side of the political isle you stand in, make sure you pass on to your kids that Jesus is still King, not matter who wins this election.

From → Parenting

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