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How should Christians approach political conversations on college campuses?

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August 9, 2022

From the morning the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the discussion about abortion and the pro-life movement has been evolving constantly. Our country is having conversations and debates about legislation at the state level, criminalization of women, contraceptives, privacy, and so much more. These are discussions that are sure to affect many college campuses this fall as students return. As debate from activists on both sides begins again in this post-Roe context, how should a Christian college student approach these conversations?  

For many of them, they are walking into a spiritually dark and secular place. The Christian position in defense of the preborn is likely to be a minority position on many campuses, subject to intense challenges. They are going to be questioned on what they believe about abortion, whose “side” they are on, and how they can justify being on the “wrong side.”

This is not necessarily new. College students have conversations like this all the time. Sometimes they go well, and sometimes not so much. What is new, however, is the intensity, passion, and assumptions behind these conversations.

For the Christian, the answer to the question of how to engage is simple and revolutionary at the same time: speak the truth in love. Christians on campus need to approach these conversations in such a way that Christ is glorified.

Here are three thingsChristians on college campuses should remember when they approach these conversations. 

1. Our identity should not be found in policy or activism, rather it should be found in the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

The first thing college students need to remember is that our identity ought to be found in Christ. Typically, when we engage in conversation it is because we are passionate about what we are talking about. If you find yourself engaging in political conversations, then you probably find that immigration, gun control, or any other political issues are important to you and flow from your worldview. In essence there is nothing wrong with being passionate about these issues and discussing them. However, Scripture teaches that the love of God should be our priority (Matt. 22:37). Therefore, if we exalt Christ more in our own lives, then having political conversations may become seemingly less imperative in comparison to having gospel conversations.

The reality is that we talk about what we care about (Col. 3:2). So, anytime we engage in political conversations, we must first remember what our priorities are. As believers, our priority is to fulfill the Great Commission and share the gospel of Christ with all people. We know that political ideologies do not dictate eternity, but faith in Christ does. We can have hope and assurance that God is sovereign, and we can have hope regardless of the political issues we talk about. Our identity is found in an event on a cross over 2,000 years ago, not whatever is trending in the news.

2. Our goal should not be to prove somebody wrong, but to represent Christ.

The second thing to remember is that we need to stay humble. Far too often conversations about politics become more about ego than anything else. If we are being honest, we know that most of the time neither party in a conversation will change their mind, so the purpose of these conversations ends up being to prove who is smarter or more knowledgeable. As college students, it is important to remember that we are young and have much to learn. We do not know everything about every topic and should not act or talk as if we do. Therefore, our goal in a conversation should never be about exalting ourselves, rather it should always be about exalting Christ.

It is crucial to remember that if you profess that you are a Christian, then you are an ambassador for Christ. (2 Cor. 5:20). We represent Christ in every conversation we have. Think about how Jesus throughout the Gospels showed humility through the washing of feet. Let us, in the same way, be humble and treat people with kindness even in difficult conversations in which we may disagree. Let us not be argumentative, arrogant, hateful with our speech, or demeaning. Rather, let us be an accurate representation of Christ’s humility through being fair minded, open to listen, and wise with our words. 

This is not to say that we equivocate between harmful and unjust beliefs, or that we treat all perspectives as equally valid. But we do treat those who hold those views with respect and dignity as those who are made in the image of God. Before we represent a political party, activist group, or any other organization, we are first and foremost ambassadors for Christ. That is something that should be handled with reverence. 

3. Our conversations should always point back to the gospel.

The final thing to remember is that regardless of the subject of our conversation, it ought to point back to the gospel as we are able. Most of the time on a college campus, when a Christian’s worldview is challenged, you can expect it to be from someone who does not believe in Christ. Therefore, that makes these conversations all the more important.

Think about what we have talked about thus far: our identity is found in Christ, and our goal in any conversation should not be to prove somebody right, but to represent Christ. All of this points to the fact that as Christians, political conversations with nonbelievers are a perfect opportunity that ought to be taken advantage of. 

Political conversations give you the opportunity to be salt and light (Matt.5:13-16). You can show somebody what the love of Christ looks like in a time when they are least expecting it. You can demonstrate what it means to have hope in the midst of a dark and fallen world. These things speak volumes to somebody who is lost and in need of Savior.

I believe in the providence of God, which means that I do not believe in accidents. Thus, I think that every conversation we have with somebody was intentionally designed. As college students, we have a decision to make: Are we going to use these conversations for our own personal ambitions, or are we going to use these conversations to bring glory and praise to the name of Jesus Christ? Do not shy away from difficult conversations. The Holy Spirit is with you and will guide you (Luke 12:11-12). We are called to obedience and to be a witness for the sake of the gospel.

Kadin Christian

Kadin Christian serves as research coordinator under the leadership of the Chair of Research in Technology Ethics, and is a collegiate missionary at First Baptist Church of Opelika in Opelika, Alabama. He graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Finance and is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity from … Read More