It’s probably safe to say that we have all become weary this election year. Quite frankly, I’m ready for it to just be over. Just like you, I’m bothered and disheartened by many things including by what I’m seeing on my social media feeds. The airing of political opinions abounds. Hear me clearly – I’m all about free speech. I firmly believe we are free to have opinions and we are free to share them. However, those of us who hold any type of leadership/influence position and wear the name Christian/Christ-follower, hold a high moral obligation to think through our posts before making our political opinions known.
I would like to propose three questions I believe will be helpful to ask ourselves before posting our political thoughts and opinions on social media.
1. Am I willing to offend those who disagree with me?
I fear far too many of us have reached the point of being so frustrated and so angry that have become calloused to the point of not caring if we offend anyone who disagrees with us. I fear the answer to this question may be “yes” and that scares me. First, let’s state the obvious. Whether we like it or not, not everyone shares your opinion or mine. Not everyone who follows us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram sees things the way we do. Our political posts that lean one way or the other will undoubtedly offend some. You and I should never willingly offend anyone just to make our political opinions known. The second you and I click "post," it becomes a willing action.
2. Am I willing to alienate those who disagree with me?
I’m not convinced many of us think long enough about our posts to consider we risk alienating some. Whether we like it or not, political opinions stir emotions that run deep. When we post our political thoughts and opinions, there will be some who disagree and we risk alienating that person. So I ask, is it worth it? Is our opinion worth losing the privilege of speaking into someone’s life about other issues?
3. Do I wish to divide or unite?
Of course, when we read this question, all of us are going to immediately respond with the correct answer. Obviously, we wish to unite and not divide. Then I ask again – why would we risk causing more division by insisting on posting our political thoughts and opinions? Whether we like it or not, our political posts will increase the division between us and those who disagree with us. Our political posts only serve to unite those who agree with us.
Allow me to share with you why I feel so strongly about this and why I have made the deliberate decision to keep my political opinions off of social media.
I have the incredible privilege of teaching the Bible, not only at my home church, but often at women’s events and retreats. It’s no secret that those in the Church are just as divided when it comes to political opinions as those outside of the Church. If I chose to use my social media platform to voice my political opinion, I would undoubtedly offend, alienate, and divide some of my friends/followers. Consider this possible scenario. Imagine if one of my Facebook “friends” who didn’t share my political opinion were to show up at one of my bible studies, unaware I was the teacher. Before I ever even open my mouth, I have already created a barrier that I may or may not be able to tear down. My Facebook “friend” may suspect that because I hold a negative political opinion and view of their candidate or party's platform, I may hold a negative opinion and view of them. I’m not saying it’s fair or right, but sadly, this is the emotional unstable climate we create and have to live in every election year. Honestly, I don’t want to risk not being about to tear down that barrier before they hear words that come out of my mouth that actually do matter.
So I ask all of us again, is it worth the risk of offending, alienating, and dividing?
Sometimes, it’s best to keep our opinions to ourselves. Even when we believe we are right.
Sometimes, the old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all” is spot-on.
Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves, we might not be right, and swallow a big dose of humility.
Leaders, teachers, and all those who boldly speak in the name of Jesus – please stop using social media to air your personal political opinions. Should we have political conversations? Absolutely. Key word being conversations. Real conversations that don’t require we click “post”. Conversations that are dripping with grace and great humility.
Bottom line? We must not be willing to offend. We must not be willing to alienate. We must not be willing to divide.