The election season is heating up!
The presidential candidates have been chosen; the debates will kickoff soon; and the tension between the proponents of the candidates will continue to rise above an already feverish pitch. What are we to do? How are we to vote? How should we communicate to our kids?
While the first two questions are important, the last question is the one God has been challenging me with the past few weeks. How do we demonstrate righteousness to our children throughout this election season?
While I would love to keep my kids away above the fray of this election, I've discovered that they are not only aware of what’s going on, they are actually interested in it. I asked my daughter (10 years old) if she had any questions about the upcoming election, and she said, “Why did people vote (in the primaries) for such bad presidential options?” I stared at her, dumbfounded, and said “I don’t know.” Oy vey. This is going to be tricky.
After spending some time in prayer about the topic at hand, I felt like God offered me three major ways to navigate the turbulent waters of American politics with my kids this election year:
- Remind them regularly that God is all-powerful, no matter who gets elected.
Like reminding our children to always tell the truth and show love to others, sometimes the admonition stings our own conscience a bit as well. It is easy to think that this election will dictate the future of our country, and therefore we are afraid of the results. The Bible tells us again and again NOT to be afraid. Why? Because HE is in charge! We must stop glorifying politicians and make sure that God has his rightful place, even in our politics. In a slightly different context, Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” and I think it applies in this context as well. There has never been a presidential candidate that is worthy of our worship. Only God is worthy.
- Emphasize the Fruits of the Spirit as we interact with people we disagree with.
Love, Joy, Peace, Long suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, and Temperance. If we are not modeling these “fruits” to our children in our political conversations, we are not demonstrating to them who Jesus is. The name calling, jokes, and disrespect for those we disagree with is in direct contrast with the words of Jesus in John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone;" and His admonition to “Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Not once did Jesus mention or demonstrate winning a political argument. He simply said to love, pray, do good, and pray for those whom we oppose. This is the way of the cross! If we teach our children political concepts with these commands from Jesus in mind, they will be much-better prepared to respect the opinions of others and represent Christ while engaging the culture.
- Talk to them!
Political discourse is not an adult-only conversation! Believe it or not, your kids will be productive members of society one day, and I believe it is important for us to raise a generation that can think critically about politics. Spend time together talking about how Scripture sheds light on different issues. Depending on their age, spend time together researching different candidates and the platforms they stand for. Let your kids ask questions and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer. In Proverbs, Solomon says to "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We have an unbelievable opportunity and responsibility to train up our children!
Perhaps these questions/ideas could help you get the conversation started:
- If you could vote, who would you vote for, and why?
- If the “wrong” president gets elected, what do you think will happen?
- What questions do you have about the upcoming election?
- Let’s pray together for our President and the future president that will take his place.
Warning: you may be surprised to discover your own unholy biases reflected in your kids’ responses to the question, like I did.
A Prayer: I pray we will not abandon who we are as Christ followers and become followers of presidential candidates. I pray we will raise our children to follow in our footsteps as we follow in the footsteps of Christ. I pray we will choose this day whom we will serve. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Curtis Marshall is a helicopter pilot in the Air Force and flies out of Joint Base Andrews, MD. He will soon be separating from the Air Force to pursue an opportunity as a full-time entrepreneur. He lives with his wife, Heather, and 3 kids (Anjali, Kaitlyn, and Curtis Jr) in Alexandria, VA and attends NCC’s Kingstowne Campus.