Politically Homeless

Hey, y’all. I have a few reflections on the election.

I’m no journalist, but rather a counselor. My area of expertise is human psychology, so I tend to see world events through the psyche lens. I also play a kind of pastoral role, having preached and written on faith for decades. What I share comes from these two places and not a place of expertise on politics. I tend to keep my political opinions to myself, including who I voted for, but this election has been psychologically/spiritually impacting enough for me to want to offer something. So here goes.

The Associated Press has declared Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election. A great cry of rejoicing has ascended from his supporters. A few aspects of this win are noteworthy: An incumbent president rarely loses re-election. Kamala Harris has become the first woman vice president in U.S. history and is also a woman of color. A pandemic raged in the background of this election, still, the highest-ever number of voters participated. Truly, history has been made on many fronts.

Donald Trump will not go easy. And he has a right to challenge the results of the election if he believes they came about by fraud. Sore loser? Perhaps, but let him try to prove his case. Al Gore did so in 2000. Maybe something will be uncovered in those court proceedings. If they come to naught, Joe Biden will become president in January whether Trump concedes or not; presidential concession is a norm, not a law.

And life will go on. The U.S. won’t immediately turn into a socialist country, we will for the time being continue to be granted freedom of religion, abortion rates will likely continue to go down, medical authorities will keep trying to curtail Corona and the economy probably won’t instantly tank.

Candidly, I’m nervous no matter who is in charge. I couldn’t sleep when Trump won in 2016. I fear aspects of the Biden win, too. But what concerns me more than any temporal matter is the division, not of the nation, but of the church. The world is groaning under a curse; evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse. This is old news, and need not disrupt the peace of the children of the not-of-this-world kingdom. When the enemy successfully fractures us, however, he has won a victory, and my peace is gone.

I’ve been a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom for more than 40 years. I’ve never seen such a rift. Brothers on the left praising God that an era of peace has arrived, and that the party of compassion is here. Sisters on the right lamenting that God’s cause has suffered defeat in the loss of His appointed instrument of righteousness. FYI, the left is not necessarily compassionate, and the right is not necessarily righteous. The left abhors tearing immigrant children from their mother’s arms, but what about tearing unborn children from their mother’s wombs? How is that compassion? The right blames the current struggles of Black Americans on their failure to take responsibility, but then tends to evade responsibility for systemic racism. Sorry, but that’s not righteous. Neither party is consistently, wholly God-like and for us to expect that of a political entity comprised of flawed human beings is profoundly naïve.

I realize that I see the rift more plainly because of social media; but I wonder if social media actually facilitates it. Here’s what I believe occurs: The rapidity of the information delivery system means that content travels faster than ever. Add to this that the human brain tends to absorb familiar narratives more quickly. In order to compete for our attention, news sources pump out partial truths that fit easily-absorbed, emotionally-resonant narratives, holding back key facts that would challenge them. Cha-ching!

The good-guy-bad-guy narrative holds universal appeal and marketability. If you have monsterfied one candidate and idealized the other, you’ve probably fallen prey to media-induced bias, and have helped make partial-truth-tellers (a.k.a. liars), rich. For biblical reference: the first lie out of the serpent’s mouth was a partial truth. He said, “Did not God say you could eat from every tree in the garden?” I have been increasingly shocked at how naively believers buy these partial truths. And not only buy them, but fault those who don’t.

Which concerns me more than anything. The new judgmentalism is intensely ideological. We once judged people for their behaviors, now we judge them for their convictions. But judgmentalism on a different basis is judgmentalism still. And judgmentalism creates an environment of fear and suspicion in the family of God. I plead with us to hold our political opinions lightly and our faith in Jesus tenaciously. And I pray that in time, though we see through a darkened glass now, we will declare together that God will be true though every man a liar (Romans 3:4).

43 thoughts on “Politically Homeless

  1. Bernadette Reply

    Thank for this article. It is beautifully written and straight to the point. Your words have challenge me to pay more attention to our time on earth and how event are unfolding right before our eyes. It is so easy to lose sight of things. But even more than that, I’m encourage to draw near to Jesus who is my only shelter.

  2. Monte Sahlin Reply

    Amen, Jennifer!!! Much of what is said about politics on social media is simply foolishness. The Achilles heel of a country with free elections is that the vast majority of the voters are not really intelligent enough or principled enough to cast their vote well.

      • Joan Reply

        Thank you for this! We as God’s people have a great need to be awake to Truth. This can only be found in His Word. God’s prophetic messages of Daniel and Revelation make it clear that our greatest concern should be for the everlasting Kingdom. Jesus Himself when on earth said, “And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached…”. This is no stick your head in the sand gospel but a real time, everyday ministering to our neighbors gospel, pleading for the Holy Spirit so we can show love how and where Jesus leads.

    • Aloma Reply

      I don’t believe the fault is so much in lack of intelligence or principle, but rather in ability to KNOW the truth.
      Because politicians lie, we are deceived. I know intelligent, principled people on both sides who I truly believe are doing their best. The lack is not in intelligence or principle but in assumptions based on what we know. A biased and/or censored media makes it that much harder to know the truth.

        • james donavan Reply

          AMEN !!! may God continue to bless you with wisdom and His love . We are standing on the sure word of God . Psalm 61 : 1-4 .. Love in Christ Jesus our Lord ….. james

  3. Katie Reply

    “We once judged people for their behaviors, now we judge them for their convictions.”

    As SDAs we should know better than to fall into this trap. The day is coming when we will be judged for our convictions of faith.

  4. ernest b copley Reply

    So grateful you support counting every legal vote and whoever wins is our next leader. Then lets move on as a country.That’s what I gathered from your musing this morning. That’s what I support too.Please remember media bias works both ways.We all are a product of our news sources and we echo what makes sense to us. We should study the platforms of each party and support the one that reflects our values ( which is what my wife & I did). You don’t have to like a candidate to support his efforts to govern. I try so hard not to be snookered by either side.Just so thankful to live in the greatest country in the world. Blessings to all as we strive to invite as many as possible to live in eternity.

  5. Clint Pier Reply

    Thank you Jennifer, Well said. There is comfort in knowing that God sets up and takes down kings. My bias leans toward the conservative side but a few months back I began to recognize that I was losing the battle on whether I could love the opposition. The echo chambers that I was listening to in the media were soliciting in me utter hatred for the other side. I am not one to ignore current events but I had to make a break. I chose a few select e-news sources and turned the radio off in my car, and by God’s grace we never have had a tv. I have replaced all of the talk radio news with Christian music. (Thank you so much for sending the cds. They are such an important part of my play list.) What a difference this has made. As times get pinched into the prophetic hourglass, we all need the gift of God’s love for every person, especially those we consider the farthest from the Truth.

    • Jennifer Schwirzer Post authorReply

      Wise choices, Clint! There are a few press sources that are still relatively reliable. The constant reinforcement of our own ideas is unhealthy to say the least. Having said that, I lean to the right as well. The far left scares me.

      • Ella Rydzewski Reply

        Agree. I do appreciate your article. The election media has divided families and friends. I will not let it divide me. I really don’t hold feelings against those who thought differently. It is their choice, even if I personally feel they let themselves be misinformed and ignored questionable behavior of one party. I still respect them, and will not dare to offend. I did this once in the race–took sides after the other person started it, and they no longer visit or talk to me. And these are relatives, and I have few left. Still blessed by a sweet niece though.
        It was never entirely policy for me (though than I am pro-life). It was the hypocrisy, lack of ethics, propaganda, censorship, lawlessness ignored, real-life persecution, and lack of any acknowledgement of the good the president did, that scares me. If this can happen to a leader, it can happen to anyone!

        I have no doubt the incumbent would have won if the unrequested mail-ins were not used. It was planned, and voting too early for people to be aware of the conflict of interest. We may become a one party nation.

  6. Barbara Bolton Reply

    “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” If we walk back from the anger, we uncover the fear. That’s what makes me want to say to my church family, “why are you afraid, when you KNOW who’s ultimately in charge”? He’s promised justice for all the injustices. He’s promised peace for all the tumult. He’s promised to take care of all our needs and that He’s already overcome the world. We have no reason to fight one another, because no matter what happens, God will emerge as Victor. I want to reassure my church brothers and sisters that their trust is misplaced if they believe that ANY government can take on the results of sin and triumph. The controversy is SO far above our limited view! Our battle HAS to be to continue to see each other as individuals that God is trying to save and wants us to push past our fear, allow His loving Spirit to overwhelm and trust that, outside of that, He’s got all of Heaven fighting on our behalf. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I pray, as Elijah did for his servant, that I will see the Heavenly warriors surrounding me!

  7. Joy Reply

    …and the hearts of many will grow cold…we definitely need to remember that no matter the outcome half the country will be upset and by showing true love people will see we have something different! But if the church can’t show love, then what is the point? great article!

      • Ella Rydzewski Reply

        The way we treat those who disagree is a sign of what is in our heart and how much we practice the love of Jesus. That doesn’t keep us from having a logical opinion or expressing it if asked. Politicism is much like all the other isms that hurt others. It is sin.

  8. Mitchell Nicholaides Reply

    I agree with your spiritual vision, though not entirely with your views of political and societal realities. We could probably learn from each other by sharing our experiences and our [partial] knowledge, if we had time–but we don’t. “Shine, Jesus, shine: Fill this land with the Father’s glory. Blaze, Spirit, Blaze: Set our hearts on fire. Flow, river, flow: Flood the nations with grace and mercy. Send forth your word, Lord, and let there be light.” [lyrics by Graham Kendrick]

  9. Bill Warcholik Reply

    Thank you, Jen, for your insightful remarks. An article published in the Adventist Review on September 3, 2020, gives support to your comments about the current problems in society that are infecting the church. That article by Tim Lale – “An insightful look at a powerful behavior modification system” * – draws from a recent article by Jaron Lanier** who has written several books about the effects of technology on humans.

    “He (Lanier) said he doesn’t think of social media as social media. He thinks of it as a giant behavior-modification system built on a Pavlovian model of reward and punishment that’s extremely addictive. But not only is it addictive, it’s also subject to algorithms, and algorithms tend to reward whatever gets a greater human response and eliminate what gets a lesser response. You know why. The more human response you get, the more money you make. 
    “So, what these algorithms have accomplished in 20 years is to unwittingly identify that huge mistake made by those tech entrepreneurs such as Zuckerberg and Dorsey. The algorithms they set in motion identify the strongest human responses and amplify them and amplify them and amplify them. And here we are in 2020.
    “You know what are the quickest and strongest human responses? They are all negative. They are fear and hate.”…
    “It reminds me of some societies a century ago (that) heard an amplified message of hate, and most of the people allowed it to enter their heart and define their response. You know what I’m talking about.”

    We will need to repent, to overcome our addictions to social media and other tools of the enemy and call upon the Holy Spirit to separate us from the world’s attractions and focus our hearts and minds on Jesus. Then we can overcome (Revelation 12:11) by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony, and by dying to self (even unto martyrdom), choosing to live for the glory of God rather than the gratification of self.

    We LIVE in the garden of EVIL and must choose to eat only from the tree of life rather than eating from all the other trees of the knowledge of evil that are everywhere and lead to our destruction. If we come to the tree of life, if we respond to the invitation to come to the Christ on Calvary, we will become like Him. We will bear the fruit of the Spirit. Then others will see the character of Christ in us and they will taste and see that the Lord is good!

    * This article is adapted from a worship presentation given on August 26, 2020.—Adventist Review Editors.
    ** Jaron Lanier is …”one of the best-known individuals in Silicon Valley and people have called him both brilliant and kindhearted.” 

  10. L Darlene Nichols Reply

    For at least two elections I have prayed that God would put the person in there that gets Jesus here faster. I believe God is in control and will let Him keep moving all of us forward toward the end goal of being restored with Him.

    I enjoyed your article thanks for your thoughts.

  11. James Kendrick Reply

    Well said!! Do I say that because it resonates with what I believe? Maybe. However, I think it is more that it is well thought out and balanced. We run into trouble when we put too much emphasis on a single party, or even a single government. Christ said that His kingdom is not of this world and calls all nations, tribes, tongues, and people into His kingdom – yes from the DNC and the RNC equally. Knowing that the left is not purely compassionate and the right is not purely religious, but that both have qualities of iron (wordiness) and of clay (Godliness), I try to focus on Jesus’ kingdom while wanting to fight for what’s right here and now in that context. If we make either the left or the right our platform we tend to alienate the other half from the kingdom we say we represent – Christ’s. If we make Christ’s kingdom our platform we will be open to all who also want to be members of that kingdom.

    Not a big Netflix fan, but there is a documentary on that platform called “The Social Dilemma.” It may be available elsewhere-not sure though. Its quite eye-opening and supports your musing “…if social media actually facilitates [the rift].” The gist is that, yes, social media is a behavior-modicifation tool.

    • Jennifer Schwirzer Post authorReply

      James, I watched The Social Dilemma. It was chilling! I love what you said about both parties having iron and clay. So true. There are gospel themes in each of the respective value systems. But then mingled with error.

  12. Aloma Reply

    So well put, Jennifer. Your post is unique in that it does not stir up dissension or hate, but rather promotes understanding, acceptance and love. THANK YOU! A healing message so sorely needed. I must spend more time reading posts like this rather than all the social media vitriol!

  13. Ryan Reply

    Thank you Jennifer for your message. It’s good to see your balance towards the political oppositions. I myself have fell for the, “sources pumping out partial truths that fit easily-absorbed, emotionally-resonant narratives.” Then when your watching these things on YouTube, the recommendations they make are geared towards those narratives you buy into that only continue to fan the flame of bias and misinformation. Thanks for giving me pause to think about this and your prayers.

  14. Alesia Reply

    I would recommend you read Ty Gibson’s article on Politics and Religions: The Diabolical Union Almost Nobody Sees Coming. The binding of church and state in the SDA church is demonstrated by being political in church and thinking that one political group is the righteous one. I believe this is because we didn’t accept the 1888 message as a church. So we wander off here and there. I believe it’s good to be politically homeless and have our home (abiding) be in Christ. It sadden me when I have seen political posters in our church, men wearing political hats in church and that the first question I’m asked in church is what is your ethnicity (mexican, indian)? I have experienced this at the local church.

    • Jennifer Schwirzer Post authorReply

      Hi Alesia, thanks for the recommendation. I also believe nature hates a vacuum and these false gospels have rushed into the space the true gospel should have been.

  15. David Richmond Reply

    Thanks for your balanced viewpoint and for reminding us that neither of the two major political parties is perfect. Our role as Christians is to do our best to represent Christ in the marketplace and to focus on advancing the kingdom of God, which is the only perfect kingdom. Like you, I am also concerned about the division in the church and among members of the church, many times over political issues.

  16. Ruth McCausland Reply

    Praise God that He is in control. There are many out there to witness to no matter who ends up in office. Thank you ?

  17. Hazel Grove Reply

    Most encouraging and inspiring post I’ve read on our current political situation. Thank you – I really appreciate your godly and wise commentary.

  18. Denis Reply

    I appreciate your comments, Jennifer. We are a torn nation, divided over issues that many believe are essential to our wellbeing as a nation. After reading a chapter in a book recently (Amusing Ourselves to Death) I am more concerned than ever for the USA. In this book Neil Postman argues convincingly that the TV commercial has altered the way Americans think and respond to society’s political problems. The fifteen second commercial endorced by a candidate, he states, represents instant therapy, encouraging us to believe that “all problems are solvable, that they are solvabable through the interventions of technology, techinques and chemistry.” Since commercials are about creating images in the minds of viewers, not establishing truth claims, they are well suited for candidates who are not experts in a given field to make claims that convince viewers. So, when brief news stories show disturbing images that create angst in the minds of viewers, these same viewers crave the “therapy” that sooth their disturbed souls. The sound bites on TV, or now via Twitter, Facebook, or other social media outlets, provide the needed therapy, and in the process greatly hamper our ability or resolve to grappel with complex issues. Solgans such as “defund the police,” or labeling others as persons who use “hate speech” do not solve anything; they only hinder us from dealing with deeper issues of human brokenness. This book is helping me understand the complexity of our current societal problems, and it is frightening to think how we will find true solutions if we lose our ability to think more holistically.

  19. ULLA Hansen Reply

    Hi Jenn: You don’t hear from me often. I appreciate your candor and balance.
    Thank you,

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