Six and a half years ago, my family and I sat in the pastor’s conference room as we prepared for my precious Granny Jones’s funeral. We talked about what she loved (her family and Bill Gaither, to name a couple) and what she disliked. When the topic of her dislikes arose, Aunt Faye said with little hesitation, “She did not like politics!”
For as long as I can remember, politics was on her ‘Do not discuss’ list – not so much because she hated it, but because she did not understand it. She interacted with politics much like sports. She was famous for saying (in regards to football, baseball, or anything which included men or women running after a ball), “I could start watching it in the morning and watch it all day and I’d know just as much when I was done as I did when I started.” One of my favorite “sports” moments with Granny is when she saw a baseball coach signaling the pitcher, and she exclaimed, “He must be Catholic!” (Oh, how I miss that sweet lady! ~smile~)
I can remember asking her to vote, but she would sheepishly decline and in a soft, tentative voice say, “I just don’t understand that. I think I better leave it alone.” I wanted to push her, but it is hard to push your sweet, Southern grandma when you are raised to have nothing but the utmost respect for your elders.
Granny came from an era where men tended to a lot of “that stuff.” Men did most of the outside work, dealt with the finances, and watched (and fussed over) the news. It is a somewhat recent development that women have become more involved in what was traditionally seen as a man’s world. Granny probably did not want to learn much about politics because she had lived most of her life without them. She was afraid she would not “get it.” Had I explained to her that our political ideologies have less to do with who we vote for and more to do with our worldview, she might have given politics a second thought (but, not necessarily).
The 21st Century Couple
The days of money and politics being only for the men is long past us. I am not familiar with too many women (i.e., none) who are content to be ignorant of world events or the family finances. Now, when couples plan for marriage, they have far more to discuss; and, those discussions matter because both opinions count.
Politics is one of those words which often leads to a physiological response. Eye rolling, scoffing, deep sighs, shaking heads – many people want to avoid the topic at all cost. Why? In large part because it can be such a conflict-arousing topic – especially in America’s current political climate. It is easier to say, “I am not into politics” than to engage in an unpleasant conversation or risk losing friends.
Personally, I fall into the “If it is unpleasant to discuss, I don’t want to discuss it” camp. Typically, I avoid talking about politics too deeply with others or posting much on social media (unlike my dear husband who talks enough about politics for the both of us ~smile~). However, I cannot say in good conscience that “I am just not into politics” to wiggle my way out of learning, understanding, and staying somewhat current on what is going on in our world. Believe me, it is my nature to hide from tough subjects! But, like I mentioned earlier, our politics are not simply about picking the best representative, but they flow from our inner world – our core values and beliefs.
When couples with different personalities and hobbies get married, it can be extremely difficult; but, with a lot of work, determination to understand each other, and discovery of common interests, these couples can make it. (It is not easy, but it can be done.) When couples with different core values and beliefs get married, it is far more difficult to find lasting common ground because their positions attack the very center of their partner’s beings; and, even when there is no ill will intended, those differences cause natural division.
Eric and I differ greatly when it comes to our personalities and our hobbies, but I am thankful we have almost identical political ideologies. Sharing similar worldviews is an incredible blessing to our relationship. When we scrabble over misunderstandings, ways of tackling problems, or time spent on various hobbies, we can always fall back on the same foundation – our Christian faith and worldview.
Politics do matter to your relationship.
Creed Notebook Time!
In a few months, we will start working on constructing our couple’s and individual’s creeds, but in the meantime, we will continue gathering information and getting to know our significant others better.
Pull out your trusty notebooks and add these questions for discussion:
- How do I traditionally vote and why?
- If I traditionally vote for a certain party, are they the same party they once were when I started voting for them? (i.e., years later, do they espouse the same values?)
- What role did politics play in my home growing up and how did they overlap with my parents’/guardians’ religious beliefs?
- How involved in politics do I wish to be once I am married with children?
- How do differences in political ideologies create reasons to (always or sometimes) back away from friendships?
- What do I wish to teach my children about politics when they are growing up and when they come of age?
- What do I wish to teach my children about how the world does and should work when they are growing up and when they come of age?
- How do my current values and beliefs affect my political leanings?
- Am I comfortable pursuing a marriage with someone who has different political leanings than my own? Why or why not?
What Does the Bible Say?
As we know, God’s word does not discuss politics in obvious ways, but it is filled with information about God’s character. The closer we grow to the God of the Bible (not the god which culture has constructed for its own pleasure and convenience), the more we adopt the political leanings which most closely align with God’s Word. Not all values we grew up with are godly – and that can be a tough pill to swallow when we uncover the truth.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1, ESV)
He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. (Daniel 2:21-22, ESV)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! (Psalm 111:10, ESV)
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15, ESV)
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:35, ESV)
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17, ESV)
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5, ESV)
Whether or not you specifically include the word ‘politics’, politics will be present in your creed. We cannot fully separate what we believe from our politics. What do you believe? What does your girlfriend or boyfriend believe? Are your differences vast or minimal? Do you respect what he or she believes? Are you comfortable with your children being taught his or her philosophies as being the right ones? Can you harmoniously create a couple’s creed or are your beliefs too different?
It matters. Really.
All these questions matter, because despite the teachings of Captain & Tennille, love will not keep us together. Human love is fickle and requires a constant decision. “I choose to love you today. I choose to love you tomorrow.” When couples do not share core beliefs, it becomes tougher to make decisions together. In the end, the couple may be together physically, but worlds apart emotionally.
Post-World War II Love
I confess that part of me longs to know the simplicity of marrying someone and making it work without so many details. My grandma and grandpa met through letters during WWII, met in-person twice, and were married less than two weeks after he was honorably discharged from the army. She packed her bags, moved away from her family, and lovingly cared for him for forty-seven years. He did the “traditional man” stuff and she did the “traditional woman” stuff.
In those moments – when I would rather not deal with monetary issues, study potential candidates and legislation, or contribute input to business decisions – I find myself idolizing that life. But, if I went back in time and observed these homes, I am sure I would run screaming back to 2019. Having a voice and being considered a partner in my marriage is something to be valued and appreciated – even if it comes at the expense of occasional mental comfort.
So, talk to each other. Talk, laugh, dig into difficult topics, and talk some more. Take breaks – especially for those of you who are naturally quiet (like me) – but for the sake of your future, please do not shy away from uncomfortable subjects.
It matters. It all matters.
Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. – John Quincy Adams
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. – John F. Kennedy
The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. – Winston Churchill
How closely do your political ideologies align?