My husband and I spent last night watching the election results with two of our most liberal friends. They flipped back and forth between MSNBC and CurrentTV, while I secretly longed for John King's magic map. Slowly, the polls closed. Results came in. Once Pennsylvania was called the heartburn and anxiety I'd felt for the 48 hours prior alleviated. Nate Silver and my party's predictions were holding. The polls were right. This despite what my very conservative family, who I'd recently spent a wonderful weekend with, had been sure of, thanks to Dick Morris and conservative pundits.
As a liberal Christian who values fairness, respect and equality for every American, last night was a huge success. We saw the passing of marriage equality bills in Maine and Maryland. The defeat of a discriminatory bill in Minnesota. We also saw history made with the election of the first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin. And of course, we saw the reelection of the president that we believe can best carry us through the next four years. Politically, I'm thrilled. But because I identify first as a Christian, and second by my politics, there's an important question on my mind: What do last night's results mean for American Christians?
It means that America has spoken, and Christians need to listen.
America said, loud and clear, that they support measures that protect equality. They also elected a president who believes the same. This does not mean that America has become a godless, heathen nation. It means that conservative Christians have stopped listening to America. Specifically those Americans on the opposite side of the aisle who worship the same God. By fighting against the growing movement of inclusion into the body of Christ, for all people, conservative Christians are just showing how out of touch they truly are. Does that matter, if Christians should be listening to Christ, and the Bible above all else? Yes. Because God did not say that we should live in a bubble. He commanded us to go out and reach the world.
What became clear last night is the way to reach the world is not through fear, discrimination or a movement farther right. It's through faith, love and equal treatment of all people. If the majority of Christians reject this, and further alienate Americans who disagree with them, they'll be doing a great disservice to the church.
But there's hope.
Here is where our hope, as Christians, should lie. Not in Obama, a man who is by no means perfect. Certainly not in our government, who both sides can agree is deeply flawed. Our hope should lie in God. He is still in control and sovereign. He still is the one who loved us enough to send Christ to die for us.
What I and so many other Christians believe is that the best way to go forth now and honor God is not by retreating farther into conservative extremes. It's by reaching out to those people across the aisle. Listening and engaging with people who we might have judged before we talked to, but now see as no worse than ourselves. Questioning why we believe what we do, and praying over what leaders we should be following. Being grateful, not angry, that we live in a country where equality can be reached for all. Not just preaching, but engaging with those people we seek to share Christ with.
Because if American Christianity has any hope of thriving, it's got to start listening.