When we talk about this crazy political season with students, I think we have opportunities to look at both “big picture” ideas and “little picture” ideas.
I think a lot of Christians focus (only?) on the “big picture” ideas when teaching on Government + Christianity:
- Response to government and other authority
- God’s sovereignty over rulers
- Major morality positions (whatever those are for you)
That’s superb. We need to speak on those things.
But I also think that there are other, “little picture” ideas that may in fact connect more deeply to students’ everyday lives. The political landscape gives us a powerful springboard for teachable moments, even beyond the rather obvious “big” topics.
In other words, how they view politics Christianly is a “lab,” a microcosm of how to live the rest of their lives, too.
That means we can use politics as a springboard to other issues, like:
- How we make decisions (between candidates OR between majors).
- Whether the end justifies the means (in political maneuvers OR getting into grad school).
- How to talk about “hot topics” with others – and when to shut up.
- The politically apathetic and the politically passionate – what’s the path of wisdom for each group of students? (And how does that apply to those apathetic / passionate about theological debate? About social issues? About their hobbies?)
- Considering what the Bible teaches (and doesn’t teach) on the many basic issues brought up by this election: helping the less fortunate, war, money issues of all kinds, patriotism, the environment, justice, sexism, wisdom, racism, leadership…
You won’t have this vivid teaching tool with this crop of students again; they’ll be “dead and gone” by 2012.
But they will spend the rest of their lives dealing with elections as Christians. And if the hubbub over elections can be harnessed to talk about living life Christianly, well, all the better.