beware the political “obvious”

It’s tempting in this political climate to treat certain choices as “obvious.”

Among a pretty large segment of Evangelicals, for instance, it seems that Donald Trump was “obviously” not a good choice in the primaries. Before Trump was on the scene, though, voting Republican was seen as an “obvious” move for many.

Among a lot of college students, it seems like Bernie Sanders has been the “obvious” choice. Or at least voting for a Democrat is the “obvious” move for their crowd.

I don’t know how you treated the primary options among your students. My guess is that most college ministers (like most church pastors) avoided directly endorsing (or anti-endorsing) anybody.

But I also know that “obvious” can creep into speech without naming anyone. We can hint.

Or maybe we treat a certain political plank or stance as an “obvious” reason to vote for (or maybe more often, vote against) someone.

And my point today is that we have to watch out for “obvious.” It smells like legalism, if we’re not willing to explain why the issue(s) at hand aren’t simply important, but non-negotiables for the people who will lead or run our land. “Obvious” – whether it’s expressed in explicit words or in the way we dialogue about the issues – is the opposite of the kind biblical critical thinking we want to build in students.

For our students, following the candidate their generation (or their campus) has decided is “obvious” is often “zeal without wisdom,” and we’re right to encourage them to be thoughtful voters instead of simply excited peer-followers. But we don’t want to convert them from one form of “obvious” to another, unless we’re first pairing it with some perseverance in biblical processing.

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