I’m either a few months late or nearly a year early with this post, but aside from the American election schedule, politics feels like it has no season these days!
I actually remember one of my earliest introductions to the way civil politics influences our relationships…
Way back in the third grade, I had my first experience of politics. My teacher at the time, Mrs. Houck, had a very good reputation as a teacher in my hometown of Parkersburg, WV and she was always providing opportunities for her students to learn beyond just the textbook.
One sunny afternoon at Gihon Elementary, Mrs. Houck was able to coordinate a visit from a major candidate in an upcoming election. I don’t remember his name, his party, nor the office for which he was running. Actually, all that I remember is that he was old, white, and wore a gray suit. I can’t even remember what he shared or the feeling in the room that day. I do remember thinking it was a big deal.
In fact, it was such a big deal that I told my parents all about it. I even shared how I had enjoyed it so much, that if I could vote in the upcoming election, I would vote for him!
I will never forget my mother’s response to my excitement.
“And that’s why they don’t let third graders vote,” Barbara Knopp responded.
Still to this day I don’t know if my mom said this to say that they don’t let kids vote because they would not vote for the right reasons or if her response was actually her way of saying that she did not agree with this particular candidates’ positions.
Either way, welcome to politics!
Our parents are the greatest influence on our political beliefs and how we tend to vote. Actually, there are three #1 influences on our political beliefs. They are parents, local leanings, and our spouse. Now, you might be asking, “How can there be three #1 influences? Can’t there only be one #1 influence?” I’m glad you asked!
According to a study published in Political Psychology, our parents are the #1 influence at age 18. By age 35, however, it is local leanings that most influence our beliefs. If you live in a blue county, you’re most likely to vote blue. If you live in a red county, you’re most likely to vote red. We are truly a product of our environment! And finally, by age 50, it is our spouse who most influences our political beliefs. So that’s how we have three #1 influences! They change over the course of our lives.
Whatever influences your political beliefs or wherever you fall on the spectrum—from a completely disassociated hippie living in a van down by the river to the other extreme where your politics are completely inseparable from the rest of your identity—you have to agree that politics are everywhere these days. And it may feel like politics have never been so troublesome, but I think they’ve actually always been this complicated and cantankerous—in every society and every age.
The question for those of us who believe in and follow Jesus is, Was Jesus Political?
Stay tuned…I’ll give a couple different answers to that question (and their potential implications for us) next week!