The lack of civility in U.S. public conversation has increased in recent years, and the current presidential election is making it even worse.
Far too much of what I hear and see expressed in conversations between people who disagree on various topics is rude, vulgar and crass.
Most disturbing is that many Christians can be included in this description of how our society currently engages issues.
People seem more divided in this election cycle than in any I can remember.
Although neither party nominated a person of sterling character, it seems that we are blind to the negatives that our candidate brings to this election while believing that the other candidate is the devil incarnate.
Both national conventions revealed how divided even our major political parties are in 2016.
Some Republican leaders stayed away from their convention in droves at least partly in opposition to the nominee who would represent their party.
The Democrats held a convention in which even the opening prayer was booed. According to one video I saw, one night of the convention Sanders supporters found their seats filled with non-delegates in an effort by the DNC to silence their protests.
Even more disturbing is the way Christians are attacking one another, especially on social media, for supporting one candidate or another.
I’ve seen many comments from Christians that are just as ugly and crass as those coming from non-Christians.
Christians are challenging the intelligence and even the faith of fellow believers who are supporting the candidate they oppose.
It’s fine to have a debate on the qualifications of the candidates and even to disagree, but we don’t need to be disagreeable when we do so.
Followers of Jesus Christ should at least be civil to one another when we disagree. If this isn’t possible to do, then the least we can do is to stay off social media until the election is over.
Like many, I know which candidate I prefer. It wasn’t my first or even second choice during the primaries, but between the two candidates this is the only one for which I could vote.
No doubt some of my friends will vote for the other candidate. They will have their reasons for supporting their candidate.
I may disagree with those reasons, but they have a right to hold them as I do to mine. When the election is over, we will still be friends regardless of which candidate is elected.
Our goal should be to treat one another with respect regardless of our differences.
I never want to say or do something for which I have to apologize later because I happen to disagree with someone about their perspective. This should be a goal for every Christian.
Let’s tone down the rhetoric and stop the personal attacks on those who hold opposing viewpoints.
When this election is over, regardless of which candidate wins, we must remember three things: Scripture commands us to pray for those in authority over us, God doesn’t fly on Air Force One, and our salvation does not come out of Washington, D.C.
Dennis Bickers is a church consultant and author. He served previously as the bivocational pastor of Hebron Baptist Church near Madison, Indiana, for 20 years followed by a 14-year ministry as a resource minister with the American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky. He blogs at Bivocational Ministry, where a version of this article first appeared. It is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @DennisBickers.
Editor’s note: A free resource sheet offering a biblical perspective on civility, produced by the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, is available here.