Divisiveness in Politics

By Marjorie F. Eddington

Categories: Loving Our Enemies, Relationships


How do we handle the divisiveness and bitterness in politics? Can the Bible help?

Response (staff answer):

It’s so easy to judge, to condemn, to defend our own human opinions, and point out some else’s faults. But these don’t help us solve problems. In fact, anger, blame, and fault-finding create the very divisiveness and bitterness we want to heal. Jesus said to “cast the beam out of your own eye” first (Matt 7:5). So rather than try to fix someone else, we have to start with ourselves. In all our dealings and conversations, we want to come from an honest place. And then we may have to give up our human opinions and turn to prayer.

A New Testament writer explained:

First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God. This kind of prayer is good. (I Tim 2:1-3 CEV)

First, we pray—not first we criticize or blame. We pray for everyone, for leaders, whether or not we agree with their viewpoints, whether or not they are elected officials or dictators. We pray for the office of leadership. Why? Because prayer can often do what human opinion or actions cannot. Prayer can reveal solutions we didn’t know were possible.

Prayer that is not just wishful thinking, prayer that is not just idle hope, but prayer that is the earnest expectation of God’s heavenly goodness being expressed here on earth, can transform situations and bring about healing. We want leaders to hear God’s voice so that they make honest, good, kind, successful decisions that lead to peace and harmony, unity and love. And that can come through sincere, heartfelt prayer to God, who is Love, and loves us all so dearly.

We cannot pray to God and condemn other human beings at the same time, in the same moment. Hurling insults often seems easier, but Jesus’ leadership says nothing about attacking politicians, slandering or libeling them, ruining careers with false accusations, spreading gossip on social media, or believing everything we hear about everyone and everything. Rather, we can find respectful ways to disagree with viewpoints or means that are different than ours without condemning or disparaging the person.

Jesus was pretty clear on that. He told us to love our enemies and warned us about getting angry at others: “I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” (Matt 5:22 NLT).

Jesus expected us to live a life of love, not condemnation. Insulting someone, calling them an idiot, a fool—all of that leads to a hellish experience. To a huge degree, our perspective on events and issues really determines how we feel and what we experience. In other words, if we’re negative, looking for all the problems, that’s what we’ll see and feel—a lot of negativity. And that doesn’t fix or heal anything.

So what do we do? The psalmist declared, “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm” (37:8 NLT). We go back to prayer. If we want solutions—genuine solutions, not just our own solutions—then we have to pray. God knows better than we do how to give peace to His children.