What happened to decorum? (Hint: See 1 Cor. 14:33)

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Does anyone remember when people criticized George H. W. Bush for checking his watch during a presidential debate? What about the time Al Gore sighed? Last night, I watched the U.S. presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. One commentator described it as a “hot mess inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.”

Hot Mess

Having watched the debate, that description is accurate. After the debate, I watched CNN and Fox for a few minutes each. My goal was to see different perspectives about the debate. Instead, they each mostly followed their scripts. David Bossie on Fox wrote, “Trump clearly defeats Biden.” According to CNN, Trump was off the rails, though their commentators were critical of Biden too.

Interruptions, insults, refusing to repudiate white supremacists, no guarantee of a peaceful transfer of power—these were some of the low points. It felt childish when Chris Wallace tried to assuage the President’s rage by placating him with assurances like, “You’ll like the next question.” Watching it raised my blood pressure, and I don’t usually have any awareness of my blood pressure unless I am running up a steep hill.

Pause

Me to me: Take a deep breath. It’s okay.

My mind goes to 1 Corinthians 14.33, “For God is a God not of disorder but of peace.” This verse falls in a section about orderly worship. It isn’t directly addressing presidential debates in the twenty-first century. Yet, the idea of maintaining order seems to oppose the chaos of the “formless void” of Genesis 1.1.

For God is a God not of disorder but of peace.

1 Corinthians 14:33

Order is of God.

Order is of God. Chaos is life apart from God. Applying Paul’s writing about orderly worship to U.S. presidential debate does not require hermeneutical acrobatics. Orderly worship represents the order of life. We often worship the way we live. Worship and life do not have to be a perfect parallel, and having some chaotic elements in one’s life is not inherently sinful. However, spreading chaos does seem to fall into a life apart from God.

I know someone who has five children living at home. She and her husband have described their household as chaotic. That’s okay. They love their children and are raising them well. When I criticize chaos, I am not criticizing individuals who have chaotic elements in their lives. I am calling out those who sew chaos.

Finding order and peace might be a challenge, especially in 2020. Try the following:

  • Even though it can be frustrating, watch the news. Explore various sources.
  • Seek reputable fact-checking websites.
  • Don’t support white supremacy or politicians who refuse to reject it.
  • When someone spouts baseless claims, call them out.

Keep your faith

Finally, keep your faith. God is bigger than the United States. No matter what happens on November 4, the sun will still rise on November 5. In the following weeks, regardless of what happens, God loves humanity—even Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Watching the news, or a debate, can assault one’s faith. Still, God will win. Love will win. The risen Christ will win. In the end, we can keep our faith in God beyond this and every subsequent election season.

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