If Christ ran our political debates, they wouldn't be nasty, negative, mud-slinging get-togethers. Christ left people covered in love, not mud.
If Christ ran our political debates, President Obama's chief political operative David Axelrod would not call Mitt Romney a flip-flopper. He would realize that Romney is a thoughtful man whose opinions have changed as his insight into and experience with the human condition has deepened.
If Christ ran our political debates, Rick Santorum would not call President Obama a snob. He would know that Obama, in encouraging people to grow beyond where they are now, is calling us to grow our country by becoming more than we are now.
If Christ ran our political debates, Rev. Franklin Graham would stop claiming that his beliefs are the only way to know God. He would know that Christ delivered us to God when he showed us how to love. If someone knows about love, he or she knows God.
Love lifts us up to God; mud brings us down to the slimiest parts of earth.
Understanding this better than we ever will - if our political debates are any kind of guide - Christ left us with these sage words:
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged," (Matthew 7:1).
There it is: The most perfect description of political gridlock ever spoken.
Mud, ceaselessly slung = gridlock.
Because mud doesn't lead people to God. It leads people downward, into the slime. It does not lead people upward, toward love.
If only our politicians listened to Christ.
Why don't they? There's a reason for that.
Politicians, along with too many Christians, don't seem to understand what Christ is talking about when he says: "Do not judge."
Is he talking about not having an opinion?
Happily, no (or we political junkies would be seriously out of luck). Also out of bounds would be decisions + the actions that our decisions cause us to take + the good that those actions produce.
No, Christ is talking about not "condemning" others. He's telling us not to make a "final judgment" - that's shorthand for not believing that the mud we fill our minds with about another person actually is that other person.
Because when mud floods our vision of other people, love can't get in.
A quick check in a dictionary reveals this to be so.
According to Merriam-Webster, to judge means "to sit in judgment of" and "to make a "divine decision" about.
In order to make a divine decision, one needs to be God.
But politicians aren't God. This might be a news flash to politicians, but the truth of this statement becomes obvious when common sense is applied.
David Axelrod's put-down of Romney didn't take Romney's right to be human into consideration. People grow. They change. And they change their minds. God probably knows this.
Rick Santorum's slam of Obama didn't take into consideration Obama's actual speech. In it, he referenced trade schools. Wanting Americans to improve their job skills is hardly the mark of a snob. God probably knows this too.
That brings us to Rev. Graham. Is he slinging mud when he claims his beliefs are the only way to know God, or when he questions whether Obama and Romney are real Christians? This doesn't rise to the level of mud-slinging, but neither does it follow Christ's teaching not to judge.
Rule of thumb: If it brings people down to the mud-splattered earth, it's not leading people to God. If it's not leading people to God, it doesn't employ Christ's teaching not to judge.
For if this teaching were being followed - if Christ ran our political debates - political discussions in American wouldn't be nasty, they wouldn't be negative, and we wouldn't all be swimming in mud (emotionally and economically) right along with the mud-slingers.
Mary Anne Thomas can be reached at email@example.com.