In which Mary DeMuth wonders what is behind our need to be right (and a giveaway!)

I’ve been a reader of Mary DeMuth‘s for years now – her novels, her memoirs, her parenting books, all of them. Loved her words, her heart, her work. So when I heard that she would be in Haiti with the Help One Now blogger team, I was a bit nervous and starstruck. Mary DeMuth? Um, I don’t think I’m cool and holy enough to hang with this woman….

We ended up as roommates, and I fell in love with Mary The Person, not Mary The Author, even though they are the exact same. She is just what she seems – genuine, funny, wonderful, brave, honest, interesting, hard-working, wise, fearless. The alarm on her iPhone is “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.” She’s got a little tattoo on her wrist; in simple typewriter font, a single name: Jesus. Only ever Jesus. She wears pigtails, and preaches the Word. She rocks Converse runners and walks into the hard places with grace. Mary DeMuth is now my friend, and she makes me love Jesus even more. 

She’s released a new book, Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Follower Jesus this past month. She’s graciously agreed to guest post here and give away a copy to one of us! 


I don’t talk politics anymore. It’s not worth losing friendships over. Particularly when people justify their political bent as God’s special party, the absolute only way you can vote to be considered a Jesus follower. Instead, I listen.

What I’ve seen in the political discourse scene has not been loving. Folks just can’t be kind to people who differ.

This is not just a Christian thing; it’s an American thing. I wouldn’t have known this if I’d not lived in France for a few years as a church planter. There, I was shocked at my first dinner party because people shared their boisterous opinions with gusto. I shrunk into myself in those moments, only to realize that my friends would often switch their positions for the sake of an interesting argument.

And then the kicker: when they left the table, they laughed and left as friends. A kiss on each cheek cemented their fond affection.

It was then that I realized that American have this innate need to be right. And in order to be right, the person with the opposite or different perspective must be wrong, must become a villain, a foe. I realized I’d subscribed to this mindset, particularly in my zealous twenties where I could not see another opinion as valid. I tied my own political beliefs to the Bible (which is interesting because I still do tie my beliefs to God’s Word, yet my political opinions have changed.) And I couldn’t see how a different opinion had validity.

What’s behind all this need to be right?


Because if I’m not “right,” something about me must be wrong. And being wrong means I’m not complete, or perhaps even unlovely or unlovable.

In my recent book, Everything, I explore this idea when I talk about the irresistibility of Jesus. Every single person He met had flaws. Every single one of them had an unholy opinion. With that in mind, do you see Jesus forcing His way? How did He treat people? Did He yell at people with differing political opinions? Does shouting, pouting, ranting, and demonizing others represent Jesus?

Consider this quote from Everything:

“The litmus test is this: How well do we love those who differ from us? I’d venture to say that God will not hold us accountable for our political bent or fervor as much as He’ll call us to account for the way we love those who hold a different view. We are to be as Jesus was (and is and is to come): irresistible sources of life. Do others flock to us for sustenance? Or do they back away from us because we’ve created impenetrable boundaries around us? What would it look like if we viewed everyone as a fellow pilgrim on a difficult, earthly journey? What if we loved them enough to welcome discord and different opinions?” (171).

I have Christian friends who are Republicans, Independents, Democrats and Libertarians. And Jesus loves all of them with a deep, fond, wild affection. If I denigrate them, I touch someone beautiful that Jesus loves. As I walk further in my Jesus journey, learning to give everything to Him, I’ve found more joy, less need to be right, and more affection for folks. That’s the power of making Jesus your everything. Suddenly fear has no place. Other people’s opinions don’t pose a threat.

Others have joined this everything journey, sharing their moments of giving Jesus everything so they can experience this kind of grace and love He offers. I pray this video blesses you.

I have one copy of Mary’s newest book “Everything” to giveaway.

To enter to win, leave a comment on this post answering this question: When have you had a positive political discussion with a friend? or Why do you think the discourse, particularly on the Internet, is full of vilifying others, and what can we do to change the tone of debate?

  • hopejem

    “What’s behind all this need to be right?


    Perfect love casts out fear. It comes down to love. God’s unconditional, beautiful and amazing love.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Yes, I think knowing we’re secure in God’s love gives us the ability to have good debate without freaking out.

  • bekka

    Beautiful. It seems funny that such a little thing as fear can cause so much drama, so much heartache sometimes. With a husband as bold and blunt as mine, we often find ourselves in discussion with family or friends about interesting and sometimes heated topics such as politics. Most of the time, we can share our opinions and agree or disagree in respect – the disagree happens a lot because I certainly don’t always agree with my husband!

    I think part of the reason why politics is such a charged issue is because it becomes easy to forget the people. The ideas stand up like giants sometimes, and we all feel like we have to be a David to strike the giants down – forgetting that the political position isn’t what’s important at all, but the person who holds that position is.

    Some other cultures are so much better at valuing people, they can have these kinds of discussions and at the end of the day go home just as much friends or more so than when they arrived.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Well said about idea giants and forgetting the people. That’ll preach.

  • Tiffany Norris

    Truth! Honestly, most of my in-person conversations about politics have been positive–even when we have differing perspectives. We’re both careful to be respectful. As much as I love online interactions, we do seem to feel freer to say harsh things there. If we can remember that there is a person on the other end of the tweet, I think that would help. And it would likely help even more to get to know that person in “real” life.

    • Kristen

      I totally agree. It’s much easier to attack people on the Internet because the interaction is much more impersonal (they’re just a name on the screen). If we were out for coffee with those same people, I think the tone would definitely change.

      • Mary DeMuth

        Agreed. We forget that there are people behind the pixels.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Very cool, Tiffany.

  • Kristen

    The last time I had a positive political discussion with a friend was in April 2011 (the month before the last Canadian federal election). I am a fairly left-centre person and my friend is very much right-leaning, but we had a really fantastic discussion about why both of us lean the way we do, and talked about our different perspectives on social issues based on that. It was completely civil, and actually fun and engaging! (Plus, he’s a cool guy.) I left thinking a lot more closely about his POV, and realized we were actually more similar than I thought despite our ideological differences. I wish more of the political discussions I read and listen to could be like that!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Wow, you know the date!

  • JennaDeWitt

    “When have you had a positive political discussion with a friend?”

    This happens pretty easily for me with my friends that are fellow Millennials, possibly because we have just been in the college atmosphere of having to discuss opinions in class or because we are increasingly connected with differing views. We can talk about our differences and still get along. Also, actually, a family invited me to their election night watch party and we all had different opinions, but enjoyed discussing them in love.

    “Why do you think the discourse, particularly on the Internet, is full of
    vilifying others, and what can we do to change the tone of debate?”

    I think it’s because, unlike the situations above, it’s not usually face-to-face, or between people who have a trusting, loving relationship like friends and family. There is something about the internet that removes the common courtesy filter… maybe it is that when we are physically present with people, we are more likely to see them as just that: people. To change the tone? Realize your words aren’t just going into this faceless void, but are being read by real people, by people who have thought about their decisions probably as long as you have, who also believe their views are biblically accurate, who also want the best for their country and their communities. We must learn to love and respect each other if we are going to have any healthy discussion and action. Name-calling, assumptions and mud-slinging weren’t cool on the playground and they aren’t healthy for positive change now.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Sounds like you surround yourself with authentic, life-giving community. It’s actually cool to me when I experience a strong conversation with big opinions, yet love in the end.

      • JennaDeWitt

        Saw your facebook status this morning about pixels vs. people and was like “yes! Exactly! That’s what I meant.” :)

        • Mary DeMuth


  • Mama Bean

    When I was exploring how to be gay-affirming and feminist and a Christian, I had beautiful discussions on facebook and tumblr with two friends, both queer, feminist, and atheist (one male, one female). They were patient with me, we were curious about each other, and we all learned a lot.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I think having that posture of “I want to learn from you; I want to understand” really helps.

  • Elizabeth

    Does it count as a positive discussion if I just held my tongue? :)

    In the recent USA elections, I could not vote in any direction with confidence so I bowed out of voting altogether. God sets up the rulers, not me, anyway. I knew He’d do the right thing even if I wasn’t sure how to vote for the right thing. However, we run in circles that dominantly believe it is a sin (or at least ungrateful/unChristian/unAmerican/unwhatever) not to vote. And so I’ve held my tongue. And held it, and held it. And held it some more. The urge to defend my decision to random, sundry people is rooted in insecurity. As I gain confidence in the voice of God and live more freely in His love/approval, the need to receive approval from other people diminishes.

    (I did not say gone yet, just diminishing!)

    I wonder whether more of us wouldn’t be able to tolerate different opinions, if we understood how utterly we are loved. We don’t have to be right to be loved by God. The more I taste unconditional like, approval, and love through Jesus Christ, the less I need to put on a show for others. Because I already have what my heart craves: acceptance.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Well said. If we are secure in who we are, knowing we are all wildly loved by our Creator, then we wouldn’t be so freaked by differing opinions.

      Besides, who would want to live in a world of clone people?

  • Brittaney Borman

    I’ve given this a lot of thought lately. I’ve questioned my own political beliefs and opinions wondering if I am wrong in the way I respond. It’s a question I still don’t have an answer for. I think the reason Americans in particular are so passionate about their political beliefs is that we have intertwined our faith with our politics. For many of us our faith isn’t just personal but a very large part of our identity, so when our political opinions are challenged we feel as if our very identity is in question. It goes beyond a difference of opinion to something very personal. Also, because our faith and politics are bedfellows we feel it our “Christian” duty to “stand for what is biblically right.”

    • Mallory Pickering

      I think you’re right. But you know something–the whole Christian right thing really took off in the 80s and I think it’s going to die off soon. I really think that will be better for everyone. Christians should be liberated to look at the issues and vote in line with their values without feeling like a traitor if their faith doesn’t square with GOP-ism.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Yes, I think you’re getting at something about identity. Write a blog about this, Brittaney.

  • Mallory Pickering

    This is something I’ve been dealing with a lot lately. Wanting to change myself (I know–let God change me) into a kind, patient person who doesn’t need to win, esp. when it comes to heated topics within the realm of theology and politics. I really like to fight and always have, sadly.
    I got off facebook awhile ago, and I’ve been a lot more withdrawn from friends, so I haven’t had a lot of discussions on politics as of late. (Except with my parents who insinuated that I’m not Christian or smart because I wasn’t voting for Mitt Romney. So I’ve had to deal with their subtle disapproval. By subtle disapproval, I mean that my mother hung up on me when I admitted to voting for a third party).
    I think part of the reason I’ve withdrawn is because of the desire to argue and not wanting to give into that and seem prideful. But guess what? It’s still pride that keeps me from saying my opinions a lot of times because it’s like I want to have the higher moral ground. To not be “that person.” Sometimes I have more respect for people who voice opinions, even imperfectly, than those who say nothing because it seems like sometimes those people want to be “better” than all those people who get heated about polarizing issues.
    I don’t even know why I’m writing all this, and I realize I’m not even answering the contest questions, but these are just some things I’m wrestling with. Not even wanting to blog because I’m so insecure about how I’ll be seen. Too opinionated? Narcissistic? I guess it boils down to pride.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Mallory, I’m sorry to hear about the hang up call. Ouch. It’s especially painful when it comes from your parents.

      I love your honesty in this comment. I think you reflect a lot of us. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mary DeMuth

    Sarah dear. Thank you for your humbling and sweet intro. Made me smile and cry (in a good way). I’m so glad our paths crossed and we roomed together in Haiti. It was a God thing for sure. Thanks for gifting me with your space today. I’m humbled.

  • Mary DeMuth

    BTW, what is your cool font you’ve used. Love it here.

  • karen huber

    I think the only positive political discussions we can have is face to face. Unfortunately, social media sometimes ends up becoming 140 character out-of-context soundbites, that are way to easy to anger or dismiss. We’ve had discussion with friends – in person – over wine, chips and salsa, and late into the night. They’re friends we don’t see often, and while we’re on the same path spiritually, sometimes political those paths can run parallel… but we’re all wise with our words, gracious with our hands, and hopeful with our hearts. And mostly, dependent on Jesus, who is the real thing that binds us together. Online interaction, though? I think I’m done with that.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Well said, Karen. Let’s call it chips-and-salsa debate.

  • Lindsay

    This post is so, so timely. I found myself in the midst of a Facebook debate, for the first time in a long time, and it was so unproductive. I don’t know if there is a way to entirely “un-villify” Facebook debates, because they will always be somewhat impersonal. Even when they seem to begin with respect, they often disintegrate into snarkiness. I feel like it’s difficult to turn these debates into something constructive without really knowing the person behind the computer.

    The last positive political conversation I’ve had? I’ve had plenty with people who see things the same way I do, but I haven’t had a political conversation with someone who doesn’t in a long time. I tend to choose not to have the conversation, to be honest. But I love the challenge Mary presents here: to show love and respect to those with whom we disagree…Jesus loves us all the same, no matter our political stripes.

    Thanks for this post Sarah and Mary.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Good word, Lindsay, “unproductive.” That’s when we have to back up and evaluate the why of having the conversation.

  • Carrie

    The last time I had a positive political discussion with a friend was probably in China… when I, a democratic American, discussed politics with a Chinese communist. I think it was positive because instead of trying to prove a point, we were genuinely trying to understand one another.

    And why is it so awful on the internet? Because it is impersonal. It’s easier to say bold and outrageous things about someone when you’re using a keyboard and not looking them in the eye. When you look them in the eye, the first then you notice is that they are human.

    Carrie McKean

    • Mary DeMuth

      How interesting, Carrie, about your discussion in China. Yes, I think a learner’s posture helps tremendously.

  • Olivia Butz

    Actually, very recently! I asked folks after the American election last week, what they were afraid of or concerned for with the culture of America. There wasn’t a lot of discussion, per se, but friends offered their opinions, freely and reasonably. I was impressed and, truthfully, thankful, that discord didn’t interrupt. More than ten friends responded, many of different political persuasions than I, and I just really appreciated it. It humbled and checked me, and made me realize that even though I have significant disagreements, I still care for and respect all these folks!

    • Mallory Pickering

      That’s a great way to lower people’s guards and have real conversation.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I love that approach. Getting at fears brings us back to people. :)

  • Vicki

    God knows I’ve tried to have positive political discussions – but I have been met with opposition and accusation from both sides. It seems that in the political arena – if you are a peace maker, you are viewed as a sell out to the other side. I think the internet gives us permission to thoughtlessly blast away at anyone and everyone without having to look into their eyes and see that they are real, flesh and blood people – often ones that we love. Thanks for this Mary. I believe you’re on to something.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Good point, Vicki. I think there are people who see me that way. And although Jesus said peacemakers are blessed, sometimes in this world it doesn’t feel that way. The world system seems to thrive on conflict.

  • Jenn LeBow

    Mary, this post is balm to my soul. I had a very hard time this election season. Most often we are overseas when elections roll around, and living in DC for this one was like having a cooler of Gatorade dumped on my head, and not because of anything good like winning a national championship. It was just shocking and cold and messy and sticky and everyone around me was mad. So your post helped immensely. And I loved the description of French political discussions. So true. I just bought Thin Places at the recommendation of a friend, and am looking forward to getting started on that, and would also love to read Everything.

    Sarah, in answer to your good questions: I had one yesterday. I have two dear friends with whom I mostly disagree politically but without rancor. One challenges me and gives real-life examples of the effects of various policies, which keeps me from staying too much in Theory World. The other listens and draws my deeper meanings out through gentle questions, leading me to more substantive thought. I adore them, and not just for this.

    The other great political discussion partner I have is my Honey. We tend to be on opposite sides of the political aisle, which has been great for both of us. We love & respect each other, so we honor one another’s thought processes even when we disagree. Also, we both take care to explain issues to our kiddos as objectively as possible, not ascribing the sides of the issue to a political party until the kiddos have thought it through and decide their own view on that issue.

    As for online discussions, I think the anonymity factor (even if we use our real names) certainly contributes, as does the fact that we cannot usually see or hear the person making the comments – isn’t 85% of communication body language? So having neither a personal context nor body language context can unravel communication quickly.

    Plus, some people just like to stir things up, and others can’t conceive of any position other than their own having any merit. So that doesn’t help.

    • Mary DeMuth

      My husband and I differ politically too, but we have good discussions. We actually find a great deal of common ground.

      I also love the idea of bringing in real life examples.

      When Sarah and I were in Haiti, we saw firsthand that it absolutely was NOT TRUE that “Haitians are lazy.” It’s a myth. We saw such hardworking, dedicated people. Sharing their story is important to dispel the myth out there. Stories add credence to our political opinions.

  • Kalyn Waller

    I definitely think that it helps to ask questions and listen to what other people have to say before you say anything. Usually, if I ask why they think the way they do, it will actually engage a real discussion, rather than an argument.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Love that Kalyn. That’s my fallback. Ask a million questions. This also drives my teenagers crazy (but I think they appreciate it deep down). It shows interest and it validates them as people.

  • roxanne

    I just had a positive discussion with a coworker last week it was short and sweet.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Ah yes, short and sweet. :)

  • Anna Gravier

    After hiding many friends and family from my facebook newsfeed over the course of the election season, I was fairly pessimistic about the possibility of productive political discussion. I was so tired of having “How can you be a Christian and even think about voting for ____?” be thrown in my face (and all over my facebook). Needless to say, when talk turned to politics as a friend and I studied for a stats test, I was wary of where the conversation would go. We started just talking about our backgrounds, how our views have changed since coming to college (and how that’s affected family relationships…eek!) and why we believe certain issues are important. We exchanged ideas, educated each other a little bit, but more importantly, listened to each others’ stories. We both had different reasons for our political opinions and a lot of those reasons came from personal experience. By sharing stories and not just spouting party lines, we were able to have an intellectually stimulating conversation, disagree on many things and still leave as friends. More importantly, we ended the discussion ultimately agreeing that the hope of the world is in Christ and not a political party.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Anna, I love that. LOVE that. Listening to stories rocks. Five gold stars. *****

  • Erin Tunnell

    Interestingly, one of my most positive political discussions was with a friend of mine who is not a Christian. It happened on Election Day this year. We met for lunch and talked about who I had voted for, which she guessed correctly. She had not yet made up her mind. it was nice, in one way, because ours is a friendship where we just accept each other for who we are, and I think that made the discussion possible.

    It was sad on the other hand, because I can think of very few Christian friends with whom I can have the same type of discussion. It makes me go deeper than politics and wonder if that’s because those friendships aren’t totally acceptive ones, ones where I feel accepted no matter what. Those friends are often the ones who I worry about what they would think if they knew my true feelings on things.

    I think that as Christians, it is sometimes hard to balance the “holding accountable” with “pure love.” But I am so thankful for those friends with whom I have found that wonderful balance! Thank you for this post, and the video. I’ll definitely be buying the book if I don’t win!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Wow, that’s telling. Very interesting. I’ve found that to be true to some extent too. Though I feel I can talk to Sarah and we’ll love each other no matter how we differ. Perhaps the underlying thing is love.

  • Vickie Schlegel

    Rather than a positive discussion, I now have a (Christian) adult child who is shunning me because I offered up opinions that differ from hers. Though she says it was the way I did it, she has honestly just cloistered herself away from all those who might differ with or question her. Heartbreaking really.

    • Mary DeMuth

      That is sad. Again, it’s fear. It’s easier to cloister ourselves from others’ opinions than to engage with people who differ.

  • Stephanie

    The need to be right is definitely a huge problem in American politics. There can’t be any discussion because you’re either on the right side or the wrong side. Trying to enforce the legalistic morality of a few has ended up in bitterness of the masses. We’re so worried about being biblical that we’ve lost His heart!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Well said, Stephanie. I’ve known people who firmly believe that if you vote a different way, you can’t be a follower of Jesus.

  • Miles O’Neal

    Wow. Mary, you have captured my heart. It has been really frustrating to me over the last few years, especially, as people have become more divided and more divisive, and the anger, fear and hurt have gone to higher levels. Over the last couple of months, even trying to discuss problems or issues regarding our government always resulted in attacks by friends because they perceived it as campaigning against whichever side they supported.

    A government of the people, by the people and for the people doesn’t work well when the people act like that.
    As for the behavior on the net, this is not new. It’s been this way since well before the web was invented, back when you had to be a well connected geek to get on the net, and even geekier to use it. Much of it can be attributed to the lack of face to face contact. It’s similar to the behavior of people in cars. A lot of us (and I have fought this, not always successfully, for years in myself) react far worse on the road than we would talking with someone. It’s because we don’t see a face, don’t know the person, and they don’t know us.

    It’s just words on a screen, not real people.

    We must never forget that it’s real people we’re dealing with, and that they are, truly, very like us. Made in Daddy’s image. Redeemed by Jesus’ blood. Far more like us than not.

    Perhaps that is part of our fear… that we are like them. I think sometimes that’s it.

    But as someone else noted, the answer to fear is love. Jesus and a handful of people from a tiny province of Rome made a huge difference because they went around full of God’s power, loving people. That’s still the way to change the world today.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Every time I see your name on the internet I think of a different Miles ONeall (name spelled different) who I knew several years ago. But you’re a different Miles.

      As an author I deal with this too. People can write very mean things about public figures, not considering their humanity. My friend Ann Voskamp shared about this recently at Allume, about how someone took her to task online, how it hurt. Her response? Invite the blogger and his family to dinner. This is the kind of winsome, amazing response I think Jesus would’ve had.

  • Helen Cottee

    In England we have a terrible habit of being ‘terribly nice’ which means we often debate badly (and ironically, often, we’re not very nice either . We too have a fear of looking lesser or a fear of being wrong, and so many of us grew up with the mantra ‘never discuss politics or religion’ – don’t show your hand and certainly don’t make a show of yourself. University released that for me. Long hours of debate and discussion into the night about our similarities and differences politically, amongst many other things. At the end of the night we would all hug and kiss and our friendships were richer and deeper because of those discussions. This group helped me to find my voice and give my opinion, it was also in this group I worked out my faith. And so I am thankful for this group who shrugged off ‘nice-ness’ into order to be real and carve out a space where I could be real too.

    • Mary DeMuth

      That’s the great thing about university, the time and place where you stretch and try to figure out what you believe. Hearing from others helps.

  • Jenny Flannagan

    I think there’s something about the impersonality of the internet and the immediacy with which we can post, tweet, mail, that removes the judging distance and makes our comments even more inflammatory, impulsive, judgemental. Maybe in the days when you had to sit down and write a letter to a newspaper, or a person, and there was reflection time built into that task, many of us would have mellowed, thought more carefully and written something with more nuance?

    I’m not an American (and things feel a little less polarised in the UK), and in our family there are strong advocates of both ends of the political spectrum. It doesn’t strain or undermine our relationships, although at the same time I think we could do better than just avoiding the issue (my default).

    • Mary DeMuth

      I think family is a good way to look at it. I differ from folks in my family, but they are still family.

  • Kim

    “Why do you think the discourse, particularly on the Internet, is full of vilifying others, and what can we do to change the tone of debate?”

    I think it’s because you can hide behind the screen of your computer. You can write things you’d never be comfortable saying to someone’s face. And how to change this?…. ??? can it be changed?? I think it’s going to be up to individuals to decide to love others with their words

    • Mary DeMuth

      And making a deliberate choice to have those kinds of conversations either in a civil manner or face to face.

  • Tammy Helfrich

    I am honored to be a part of Mary’s launch team, I don’t need a copy of the book. It is great, and I look forward to the day when I get to meet Mary in person too!

    • Mary DeMuth

      I believe it will happen, Tammy. :)

  • Erin

    My friend Julie asks great questions, and while we sometimes differ politically, she has a way of grace and love about her that makes it so much easier for me to choose that way too. And because of that I think we’ve both learned a lot. I think social media puts everything out there in real time, and it has caused us to be less likely to slow down and think about what we’re saying and why.

    This was a great reminder, not just regarding politics, but regarding relationships in general and how to communicate, in love. Which casts out fear.

    • Mary DeMuth

      This makes me want to meet Julie. :)

  • Bethany R Kaczmarek

    More often than I expected, for sure. We lived in Europe for six years and got used to the lively discussions, so I initiate them often. But people do get riled easily. I think it’s from our having such fundamental differences in our worldviews–and those things won’t change with one conversation. We’ve got to live and love, counter-culture. Hold fast to the Truth, but dig into conversations with grace at our sides. Why are we surprised when lost people act lost? The thing that hurts my heart the most (and concerns me deeply) is to see Christians taking up verbal arms and diving into the fray. These discussions aren’t time for gun-slinging. You’re right, both you and Mary. The issue is fear of being wrong (coupled with a mammoth sense that our rights ought to be our greatest concern.) Methinks it’s time to let go of our need to defend ourselves, the desire to shove others into “their places,” and stand firmly and humbly on the Truth. There, but by the grace of God, go we.

  • Nancy Franson

    Several election cycles ago I went to bed, fists clenched, unable to sleep. I thought it was my duty as a follower of Christ to be a good citizen and, for me, that meant fighting hard for what I believed was right.

    This past election night, after the results were called, I went to bed and fell quickly asleep. My women’s Bible study has been studying the books of I and II Kings, in which the history is told of a nation who had both very good and very bad rulers. And the message of the book is this: Despite who is on the throne, nothing will stop God from accomplishing his purposes. And this, I think, is what we all need to grasp at deep levels–God is doing everything he said he would do. My job is to participate in that work and, as Paul wrote, the only thing that matters is my faith expressing itself in love as I go about that work.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Well said. We fear too much. God is sovereign no matter who rules.

  • TCB

    I’m trying to make myself not care about Politics because I had a very very difficult time distinguishing whether the more “interesting” comments made about the sitting president where an attack on his policies as a democrat (which I’m
    100% okay with) or his ethnic background and upbringing (which I’m sensitive to whether I like it or not as a fellow African American). Although I know that debating is absolutely a part of the democratic process, this last election cycle has been troubling and I desperately want to shake this feeling. (forgive any typos- i’m on my phone)

    • Mary DeMuth

      I agree about the troubling part.

  • from two to one

    My rule for election seasons is to only talk about politics if I have a relationship with that person. That means exerting self-discipline when people post crazy things on Facebook (on BOTH sides) or Twitter, and engaging intentionally over coffee — or better yet — a meal together.

    • Mary DeMuth

      That’s a good rule.

  • Kelly J Youngblood

    I mostly stay out of political discussions. I have written various blog posts this fall about politics, but more as a “what are we doing?” with all our fighting rather than my opinions or thoughts on specific policies or candidates. I think our political system is broken (but then, what isn’t? we live in a broken world) and neither party has all the answers. I have never registered w/ a specific party and I have never voted party line. I think the only “positive” discussions I’ve had are with people who tend to think more similarly to me, and maybe in the next 4 years I can figure out how to have positive conversations with those who think differently.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Kelly, well said, and honest. Thanks. I agree, we need to find a way to kindly disagree, keeping relationships intact. After all, Jesus was NOTHING like any of us, yet He still chose to engage with every person.

      • Kelly J Youngblood

        I have been trying to figure out what makes it difficult to have conversations with people with whom we disagree and while I think we do have some kind of “need” to be right, I sense there is more to it than that, but I am not sure what.

  • Kelly @ Love Well

    My husband and I are opposites in so many ways, but God is working on each of us. To wit: Last week, we had numerous positive, encouraging political discussions even though we don’t always agree. It was close to a miracle.

  • Heather Kopp

    So glad to see you feature this, Sarah. I love Mary DeMuth and her kind, loving, and levelheaded approach to things. She radiates Jesus. Thanks for promoting her book, too! I bought it and love it. Heather

  • Betty Randall

    I think the discourse on the Internet if full of vilifying others because we little accountability online. We don’t look the other person in the eye and see the effects our words have when we key them into a comment box or as our facebook status. To change the tone of debate? I think we need to relearn civility. We need to rediscover manners and treating people as we would like to be treated.

  • Pete A.

    To the first question, my answer is “never.” I’ve tried a number of times (as with my friend who was my roommate when I met my wife). I do have chapters in my hoped-for book (still a manuscript) on “Loving government workers” (including leaders) and also on the Biblical roles of government. And some paragraphs in chapter 2, “Is loving our neighbors important?” (See But, overall, my family’s like you described yourself, Sarah – too liberal for the conservatives and too conservative for the liberals (like Jesus, we hope). We weren’t always: experiences and the Bible got us there.

    To the second, I’m afraid my answer is a group of closely related things, none nice. Ambition. Greed. Desire for power. Knocking the other guy down at any cost. Hate. Lying. Lack of love. And more, but you get the picture.

    What to do about it? No easy answer. Have a tough skin when you get into Internet discussions (or face to face.) Stand up strongly for what’s right, but refuse to fight. Show love; refuse to take the hate and lies seriously, even when directed at you. Sometimes just laugh at friends (I have). And one thing I’m GOING to do, this week, is send the Mary DeMuth quote from the picture above a select few of my “friends!” – IF I can figure out how to make that work. Loved it.

    Best wishes.

  • Lisa

    “When have you had a positive political discussion with a friend?”

    I have these all time with my dear friend, Sue. We have thoughtful conversations and although I don’t agree with many things she believes politically, I love our conversations and we NEVER get upset with each other or leave mad. We accept each other right where we are. Now that’s a true friend!

  • gwyn_sully

    For my answer, I would like to turn to XKCD

    Seriously though, and I know that this has already been articulated by others, I think that one of the reasons that the discourse is so vitriolic is because it’s so easy to separate into “us” and “them,” especially when we aren’t having these conversations face to face. When the conversation is over the internet, or presented by the media, it’s much easier to turn people whose opinions differ from ours into a faceless “other” instead of remembering that they are just as human as we are. I find that it is much harder (though sadly not impossible) to have a truly villifying conversation in person, when you have to look someone in the eyes and dismiss them face to face.

  • Anna Armstrong

    Thank you Sarah and Mary for such a gracious addition to the overwhelming political dialogue of the past couple of weeks.

    I had a supervisor at a previous job who told us that the Internet is an inherently negative space. In his experience, I guess, he had found that people are much more negative when protected by the anonymity of the web. Although this isn’t always true, I agree with what others have said in their comments below. It is much easier to be unkind, impolite, even rude, harsh, biting when making comments toward or at people you don’t have to interact with personally. Even my husband and his mother got into (what seemed to me) a borderline rude debate on political issues via Facebook, somehow feeling the freedom to say things they normally wouldn’t say in person. Facebook is a particularly challenging venue because people somehow still feel this freedom to voice their opinions and alienate all opposing views, yet the people they are alienating aren’t strangers, but “friends” or even family.
    I guess I still struggle with that need to be right because I have felt more anger in response to inflammatory posts than love. It’s good to be reminded to come back to Jesus and try to peek through His “lens” and gain His perspective.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Well said, Anna. We have to choose to have grace even on the internets. :)

  • Laura

    I think it’s easier to vilify others when it’s online and we don’t see them face to face. Lack of tone definitely can change the way it’s interpreted when we read something, and makes it a bit easier to be mean back. Honestly, while I have had many positive political discussions in person, I just avoid them online. For me, where I stand on politics is very much related to my emotions regarding the current state of my country, and I wouldn’t just pour out my heart to a complete stranger in the grocery store, so I don’t see much reason for doing that online either. If I’m having a political discussion, it’s with people face to face. :)

  • marnie

    Just wanted to mention a really interesting book that I am reading on the issue of wanting to be right is Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz…. super super interesting and enlightening.

  • Brenda W.

    I can rarely have a positive political discussion with anyone, because most people I know only care about being right, just as you said. I don’t think we’ll ever get past this atmosphere of hatred and closed-mindedness unless we embrace humility and our equality in Jesus.
    The book sounds excellent!

  • Stephanie

    France has always been on my “travel list.” Now it’s moved even further to the top! I’m always up for a good debate – especially ones that end with laughter and love. 😉

  • Laura Werezak

    Mary, your perspective is so refreshing! I’ve never read your books before, but this post makes me want to! I’ve struggled to have positive political discussions. I’m most successful with my husband, probably since he sees my blind spots the best and knows how to disarm me, or with friends who have similar (but not the same) positions. You’ve named my problem so perfectly: too often I have to be right at any cost. At 30, I’m still just learning to love. I think we often write hurtful things online because we think that what we’re saying is obvious, or that most people will agree with us. We don’t take the time to think about how our statements might be hurtful. It’s too bad really.