Dear Jack: Having Friends in the “Other” Party — The City Online - Houston Baptist University

Dear Jack: Having Friends in the “Other” Party

by John Mark Reynolds on November 8, 2012

Dear Jack:

You are rejoicing in the election outcome, but know it grieves friends such as I am. One thing I like about you is your candor. Just as I admit my politics, you talk openly about your own views. You are happy President Obama won and know I am sad.

You wrote:

So here is what I need input on: How can you mourn with those who mourn when what they’re mourning on is a cause of celebration for you? How can you celebrate when what they find joyous is a cause of mourning for you? What does it look like to be a gracious winner or a gracious loser? What’s the heart that’s needed behind this all? How can you celebrate in Heaven when their is suffering in Hell?

There are two kinds of political partisans: the fanatic and the committed. The fanatic thinks everything hangs on his politics and with such a person there can never be any friendship, only servitude.

Why? Even if you vote for their party, this person will find a reason to doubt your purity and be irritated with you. On the far left this is the socialist who sees a “deviationist” in the man or woman who disagrees with the most recent theory of the Chairman. On the far right, this is the person who sees “comprise” and “moderation” in any ally who does accept the entire GOP platform.

Both sides are convinced, despite electoral evidence, that a sufficiently pure candidate would win the masses. Sadly, deviationists and compromisers keep them from power. Libertarians, who once again failed to attract sizable number of voters, often splinter in their tiny groups over issues so arcane to outsiders that it takes hours to explain their importance! Atheists and Baptists both have their fanatic types who root out the faintest hint of skepticism.

As a result, they can have followers, but not friends.

Avoid the fanatic.

Many friends will not become political partisans, because they fear fanaticism, but one can be deeply committed to ideas without losing perspective.

Republican politics in a democracy is a hard teacher. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. The voice of the people is never the voice of God, but then neither are my views God’s!

As a result of the pain, non-participants refuse this hard school, the dialectic of politics. This is too bad and  even this “refusal” divides between fanatics, rooting out any hint of political involvement (“Constantinianism!) or partisans who make arguments and agree to disagree.

No zeal burns so hot as the fire of the man who hates political activity with a zealous hatred.

Avoid the fanatic.

For the rest of us, it is good to remember that political campaigns lead to passion and passion borders on fanaticism. I wrote little the day of the election and immediately after it, because my immediate reaction was too frantic, frenetic, and unfriendly.

I had to step back and allow my reason and charity to regain control.

I had to repent for the parts of me that merely hated being wrong. I had to love my political opponents and become (once again!) the loyal opposition to my President: Barack Obama.

At the same time, as a person with deep political convictions, I had to acknowledge that the nation has taken a deeply wrong turn. I don’t like the outcome and I don’t think it will be good for us.

From your point of view, your reasonable point of view, the opposite is (mostly!) true.

Best for both of us to avoid the other for a few days so each can be authentic: I must mourn the wrong turn and you must rejoice.

It is natural, but by the day President Obama takes the oath of office we should both unite as Americans to rejoice in the Constitution and renew our commitment to rational, patriotic, and prudent opposition.

I will keep trying to persuade you that President Obama is threatening (long term) our liberties. You will keep trying to persuade me that he is simply helping others and advancing justice.

We will keep seeing through a glass darkly.

Thank you, Jack for agreeing to disagree with me agreeably.

We have serious disagreements, but they are not as great as the Holy Spirit who is renewing both of us. We both belong to churches that contain monarchists and socialists. History has known no political golden age and no political hell so hot that Jesus could not be found.

What unites us is more important than the important disagreements that strain our jollification. If I can vote for Mormon, I can be friends with a Democrat!

Pray for me a sinner,


John Mark

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