Don’t Be Afraid of the P Word – Why and How to Embrace Politics

A Facebook friend of mine recently made a post stating that she was tired of trying to understand politics and encourage productive dialogue. After feeling attacked by some friends commenting on her previous posts, she said she was no longer going to engage in such conversations and will only stick to posting strictly about her personal activities.

Another friend told me she avoids listening to or watching the news entirely. It’s too distressing, emotional, and confusing, so she doesn’t want anything to do with it.

And I used to not want anything to do with it!

I claim that we, as members of the Church, and especially as women in the Church, unjustly avoid politics when we should be using our political influence for good.

We have a responsibility to represent Him any chance we have and to use our influence for good, whatever influence that is, even at the cost of comfort.

Christians cannot be content with comfort

We avoid learning about politics because it is overwhelming, takes time, and can be controversial and uncomfortable. We avoid talking about it because, culturally, it is often a heated discussion and represented by deep rifts between two parties. We may worry we don’t know which side we fall on, or we don’t know if our friend is on the other side and might disagree with us or think us wrong or even evil for doing so.

Netflix is comfortable. Disney+ is comfortable. Food is comfortable. Not talking to strangers is comfortable. Talking about “The Office” is comfortable.

But we need to push ourselves a little harder than that!

I know politics are uncomfortable. But our culture is much too used to being comfortable.

Plus, many members of the Church are far too concerned with not upsetting anyone. We would rather call ourselves “Mormons” with a self-deprecating laugh than correct someone who does not use the correct name of the Church when referring to it or its members.

We need to be bold!

On my mission, I learned over and over again about being bold. Was I ever good at it? Honestly, probably not at all. But I want to be better, so here I am, testifying the best way I am able: in written word, to however few people will read it.

1) We should embrace learning about politics.

Now this account did cause the people of Mosiah to mourn exceedingly, yea, they were filled with sorrow; nevertheless it gave them much knowledge, in the which they did rejoice.

Mosiah 28:18

The people of Mosiah were eager to learn what had happened to the people of Jared. Even though it wasn’t easy to find out about their devastating destruction, they still felt joy in the knowledge they gained.

I know learning about politics is difficult. And it is completely possible that you really are at a time in your life when you need to turn down the voices on tv or limit your time reading newspapers.

But for many of us, it’s time to pick up the gauntlet to do the hard work of learning about the issues facing our communities and our country.  If we do so, I am confident we too will feel joy.

So find out about what’s really happening with abortion. Find out about what’s happening with human trafficking. Find out what’s happening with violence. Turning a blind eye to it will only allow evil to fester.

It’s uncomfortable. But if you can cut out a tv show, video game, or other distraction of little consequence from your life, you can find time to learn about the news and the stances of the politicians vying for your vote. Pray for the gift of discernment as you filter through the voices, seeking for a balanced diet of the most reliable sources on the left, right, and anywhere in between.

As you learn about politics, the most important thing is to stay close to your Heavenly Father. If you pair sincere prayer, diligent scripture study, and righteous living with an open mind and secular research, He can guide you to learn what you should learn and decide what is right.

God wants us to learn about politics. He cares about His people, and He certainly cares about His country.

Extra motivation for citizens of the United States of America

God has invested much into this country, and He is counting on us being stewards for Him. He wants us to defend and promote righteousness, and government can either do the same or stifle or punish righteousness. It is up to us to ensure our government sides with righteousness and with God in order to best bring about His will, provide a safe place for His Church, and protect all who follow Him.

77 According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.

Doctrine & Covenants 101:77-80

2) We should use our influence for good by speaking, voting, and considering running for office.

After we prioritize learning about issues as well as the candidates for our local, state, and federal elections, and as we are continually prayerful, we should then use our influence to bring about good change and maintain moral standards.

I was on my mission during 2016, when the Church ran a religious freedom initiative, and when the First Presidency sent this letter reminding members about the Church’s political neutrality but urging them to be politically involved:

Participation in the political process affects our communities and nation today and in the future. We urge Latter-day Saints to be active citizens by registering, exercising their right to vote, and engaging in civic affairs.

We also urge you to spend the time needed to become informed about the issues and candidates you will be considering.

First Presidency Letter to the Church, 2016

I was happy to shrug it off, knowing that, as a missionary, I was supposed to focus on the work and leave behind things like dating, school, and politics.

However, in the next year or two, I learned to remember that Jesus Christ is at the head of His Church, and if He thought members of His Church needed to be politically informed and involved, it must be best for me and my fellow man (and woman).

I’d like to talk about 3 main ways you may do this: voting, speaking out, and running for office.

Vote

And thus they did assemble themselves together to cast in their voices concerning the matter; and they were laid before the judges.

Alma 2:6

Make sure you’re registered to vote, and then do it! Be well prepared by learning about the candidates and scheduling time to vote.

Every person who is able has a responsibility to be a part of defending our fellow man by voting to promote good in their communities for their fellow man.

Speak out

This is something everyone can do, but how you do it is up to you.

You don’t need to talk about politics every day. You don’t need to talk about it with everyone you know. You don’t need to post about it online. You also don’t have to attend protests or be a part of a formal movement.

In fact, there are many instances in which it is not necessary or good to talk about politics, and some of us might need to have a little more restraint in bringing it up.

But if you feel called to do so, do not fear! Do not always default to avoiding talking about politics, especially in appropriate settings with respectful friends and family.

Also, as you speak out, actively listen. Don’t be afraid of engaging in honest, open conversations. Listen to people with whom you agree and disagree. Try to understand where they are coming from. Be prepared to accept that you might be wrong sometimes and need to change your perspective or change your mind entirely. Remember that people who disagree with you are probably still good people with good intentions, and, in the end, you can agree to disagree.

In whatever way you speak out, for whatever cause, always remember to be Christlike and kind.

“… be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Matthew 10:16

Run for office

This is not for everyone; before you run for any office, consult with God to see if this is a good path for you.

But if you feel that it is God’s will for you to run for a government office at any level, move forward with faith. God calls each of us to fulfill our individual missions as His children on this earth and as members of His Church.

3) Remember that Jesus takes priority over politics.

Divorce. Bullying. Poverty. Lack of education. Insufficient healthcare. Racism. Abortion. Anxiety and depression. Hunger. Homelessness. Pornography.

… each of these problems may have a number of effective, individual solutions. However, the only universal solution is Jesus.

How Jesus Solves All Problems

Government cannot be your religion. If you are more interested in talking about politics than talking about Jesus, something is wrong.

And if your time in the news and political research is pushing out your time in the scriptures, it may be time for a break from the news cycle to recenter on the Lord.

But Spack!, you may say. How can I take a break or turn down the volume on the news? Didn’t you just say it was my duty to serve others by being politically informed and active?

Only Jesus is the source of undeniable truth, the greatest love, and perfect peace. No party, candidate, or bill can ever do as much good as Christ can do in the hearts of those who know Him.

So make sure you know Him well, and that you seek to bring others to Christ in your home, community, and country.

Amidst all the confusion, anger, and injustice in government and communities everywhere, I find hope and courage in knowing that, someday soon, my Savior will return to this earth and reign as the Prince of Peace.

“It is perhaps less obvious to some that religion and morality play an essential role in maintaining and promoting good and effective government. The only real solutions to many of the serious problems facing our world today are spiritual, not political or economic. Racism, violence, and hate crimes, for example, are spiritual problems, and their only real solution is spiritual. …

“Societies depend in large part upon religion and churches to establish moral order. Government can never build enough jails to house the criminals produced by a society lacking in morality, character, and faith. These attributes are better encouraged by religious observance than by legislative decree or police force. It is impossible for government to control the attitudes, desires, and hopes that spring from the human heart. And yet these are the seeds that grow into the conduct government must regulate.”

“Religion and Government,” Elder Wilford W. Andersen, Ensign 2015

Additional reading

Your experience

What has been a barrier for you in learning about and being involved in politics?

2 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid of the P Word – Why and How to Embrace Politics

  1. Hello again, Jessica 😊
    I, for one, have found your “Political” Posts very Encouraging, Inspiring and Helpful! I so appreciate your reminder to us that God should be our ultimate Guide.

    Being “informed”, as you so wisely point out, takes HARD WORK: Listening to the Candidates, Reviewing their claims, Reviewing their track record, Investigating SOURCE Opinions from DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES and Opinions of those for whom we hold Respect and Trust.

    But in the end, once having done our “Due Diligence”, our most important TOOLS are Scripture, Prayer and Trust in His Guidance.

    Like

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