Whether you’re a youth leader, teacher or parent, it’s important to help your teenagers think about and talk about politics in a way that honors God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and makes the Gospel look good (Titus 2:9,10.)
There’s so much anger, hatred and just plain meanness online that it’s easy to avoid the whole subject of politics with Generation Z. But it’s vitally important to show the next generation from the Scriptures how to engage on issues, yes even political ones, in a loving, humble and compelling way.
With this as a backdrop, here are the 4 Big “E’s” when it comes to helping your teens think and talk about politics in a way that pleases God:
Encourage them to let God’s Word guide their moral and political views.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 1 Timothy 3:16,17
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
It is through faith in Christ that young hearts are regenerated. But it is through God’s Word that young minds are renewed.
We must help teen Christ followers understand and embrace the authority of God’s Word. In a culture where the guiding authority of what many teens believe comes more from Instagram influencers than inspired Scripture, this may seem like a radical thought. But God is the Author of Life and the essence of truth. His Word should be our playbook for, not only life and theology, but politics and morality.
And, if you think about it, Jesus was the ultimate influencer. His birth cracked the calendar in two, his life set the world abuzz with the news of his miracles and messages, his death set a lost humanity free and his resurrection proved that all the truth he had spoken was true! No human being has been a greater social influencer than Jesus Christ. 2,000 years after his death, billions are still being revolutionized by his radical message of redemption, reconciliation and rescue!
It must be his Word (AKA “The Bible“) that drives our teenagers’ beliefs on every level…including politics!
So how do we do that without telling teenagers who they should vote for when they are old enough to vote?
We do that by equipping them to wrestle through political and moral issues Biblically! For instance, we need to help them see that killing an unborn child is murder (Psalm 139:13-15), but that to refuse to take care of the poor is sin (1 John 3:17,18.) We need to help them see that to treat the rich with favoritism is an insult to God (James 2:1-10) but to give food to someone who refuses to work in unBiblical (2 Thessalonians 3:10.) We need to demonstrate to them that loving the immigrant is God’s will (Deuteronomy 10:19) but that the laws of a nation should be obeyed (Romans 13:1-7.) We need to help them see that Biblical marriage is always between a man and a woman (Mark 10:7-10) but to speak mean, hate-filled words to someone breaks God’s clear commandment (Ephesians 4:29.)
As you can see, the Bible’s view of these issues doesn’t fit nicely and neatly into one political party’s platform. So, teenagers need to learn to wrestle through God’s Word under the power of God’s Spirit to come up with their own political views based on Scripture.
Engage them in prayer for their political leaders.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4
I prayed for President Obama when he was President. I pray for President Trump while he is still President. And I will pray for President Biden when he is inaugurated as President. Why? Because God commands me too.
I pray for God to give them wisdom and guidance. I pray that, as a result of their lead, “we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” And I pray for their salvation because God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
We need to help our teenagers realize that, contrary to popular opinion, politicians have souls too. They need the hope of Jesus every bit as much as you and I do.
And before you leave a comment about how bad of a leader so-and-so is, just remember that, when Paul penned these words Nero was the Emperor of Rome. Yes, that Nero, the same one who impaled Christians on large sticks, drenched them in wax and used them to light up his garden sex parties.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-4 he reminds Timothy to pray for the King. In Romans 13 he reminds believers to “submit to the governing authorities…” We must help our teenagers pray for our political leaders, even if, or, maybe, especially if, they disagree with them.
Equip them to turn every conversation toward the Gospel.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:2-6
As our teenagers have conversations with their friends about politics, morals, anything and everything, we must remind them to look for the “fork in the road” opportunity that can turn those conversations toward Christ.
Maybe it could go something like this…
- Why am I pro life? Because Jesus is the Author of Life!
- Why do I care for the poor? Because Jesus came to preach to the poor!
- Why do I hate racism? Because Jesus came to reconcile!
- Why do I believe that money shouldn’t just be handed to you? Because Jesus calls us to work hard!
Any political or moral issue can be skillfully turned toward Jesus and the good news of his Gospel message. We must help our teenagers do just that!
Energize them to love those they disagree with politically.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.” Luke 6:27-29
We must arm our teenagers with buckets of water, not jars of kerosene, in the current political firestorm sweeping across America. We must help our teenagers remember that we can disagree with someone politically and still treat them with dignity and respect…even fellow believers.
We see this play out in Matthew 10:1-4, “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him."
Even in the midst of Jesus’ 12 disciples, there was a wide range of political views. On one side there was Simon the Zealot, who was a part of a political movement that despised Rome’s tyrannical rule. On the other side, we have Matthew the tax collector, who collected taxes on behalf of Rome. Who knows the heated arguments that could have happened around a campfire as the disciples ate fish and chips while discussing politics?
But, at the end of the day, their collective unity in Christ trumped (no pun intended) their individual political views. They were united in Christ and committed to each other, far more than their political leanings.
In the same way we, as believers, need to embrace the truth that our unity with politically different believers far outweighs everything else. Of course that doesn’t mean we avoid real issues, especially ones that are clear in Scripture. What it does mean is that, as Ephesians 4:15 reminds us, we speak the truth in love with the goal of building each other up in the faith.
We must equip our teenagers to do the same. Too much is at stake. The mean-spirited, mud-throwing hate-fest must stop. And we must help teenagers to stop it.
Yesterday I was having a conversation with a nationally known mega-church pastor who was super discouraged. He told me, “I’ve almost given up on this current generation of Christian adults when it comes to these issues. There is so much hate, so much anger and so much vitriol over political issues amongst the adult Christian community it makes me sick. Perhaps it will be those who aren’t yet Christians who will turn the tide back toward the Jesus way.”
I said, “Or maybe it will be the current generation of Christian teenagers who are sick and tired of their parents acting like spoiled brats online, and who will set the pace for sharing the Gospel and speaking the truth in a loving Christ-like way.“
He said, “Yes. I believe in Generation Z.“
I’m sure you do too, otherwise you most likely wouldn’t be reading this post.
So let’s help our teenagers think and talk about politics in a God-honoring way. And then, let’s equip them to turn those conversations toward King Jesus and his kingdom that will never fail.