Disagree With Family on Politics? Here’s the Only Advice You Need for Thanksgiving

It's not that complicated.

This holiday season, you might be faced with the person you couldn't agree with less. But remember, you only need three principles to survive.

By Liberty McArtor Published on November 21, 2017

The holidays are upon us. Along with headlines like How to maximize your leftovers and How to avoid 10 extra pounds, this gem always reemerges: How to talk about politics with your family.

Is that last kind of article really necessary? Its readers are rational beings, presumably. Aren’t they capable of navigating their own clan without step-by-step instructions?

It’s not that such articles are all bad. One piece, for instance, advises that we regulate contentious conversations to a “politics zone.” Remember that your family members are, well, your family. Appoint a mediator who can keep things civil between clashing kin.

But things might be simpler if we remembered just three principles when charging into familial political warfare.

1. That’s a Person You’re Talking To

Their ideas are insane. Their understanding of the system is all wrong. And their assumptions about you are offensive, proving how little they know.

But before you hurl that killer comeback, wait! The relative you’re talking to — that cousin, that step parent, that boyfriend no expected and who now requires a makeshift place setting — is a person. They have fears and dreams, just like you. A favorite TV show, just like you. A life outside their voting habits, just like you.

In short, they’re human … just like you.

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So maybe that mic you wanted to drop would be better off tucked away. Instead, try to forge a new bond with them over something non-controversial, like pie. Speaking of which, would they like a slice?

2. God Loves Them

Okay, it’s true. Sometimes not even pie and shared humanity are enough to dam up your animosity. Especially if you think what they stand for is truly despicable. So can you toss the pie and hurl that comeback now? No. Because God loves them. Even after they voted for that scoundrel. After they joined that social movement. Right now, in all their polar-opposite-from-youness, God loves them enough to die for them.

If they don’t know Him yet, your behavior could have eternal implications. Will your love, despite your differences, point them to the Savior they need? Or will your hostility give them an excuse to write Christianity off?

One reason modern culture is so divided is because people have forgotten how to set politics aside.

If they do know God, there’s another imperative: to love them as a brother or sister in Christ. Perhaps you think they’re a disgrace to the faith because of their politics. Perhaps they think the same of you. But the love for God you both profess trumps everything else. If you share that, what you don’t share doesn’t matter. Not at Thanksgiving, anyway.

So why not talk about God instead? At the least, remember that He’s there, in your midst.

3. Politics Aren’t Everything

Often, we can’t get through one scroll of social media without seeing something political, and usually divisive. But politics aren’t everything.

Last weekend Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was interviewed by reporters at a “Celebrate the Family Banquet” in Des Moines, Iowa. He shared some critical insights regarding this point.

“Lots and lots of people differ on policy debates, they just don’t think policy defines the line between good and evil,” he told reporters. “They think that raising your kids to play sports right, with honor and integrity and respect, and to get your math homework done on time, and to be the kind of neighbors that people want to have living next door to you, all of those textured, communal things are more important than our political tribes.”

Sasse is right. One reason modern culture is so divided is because people have forgotten how to set politics aside, even during designated family time, like Thanksgiving dinner. Why not buck that trend? You can start this year by focusing on the “communal things” Sasse mentions.

This holiday season, you might be faced with the person you couldn’t agree with less. But remember, you only need three principles to survive: That person’s a person. God loves them. And politics, including your disagreements, aren’t everything. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  • KC

    There is so much more and better things to talk about other than politics – we don’t bring the subject up.

    • Paul

      As intrusive as govt is, especially here in California, it takes work to not hit on politics when discussing any topic at depth.

      Heck, even puppies can be a political topic here, they all must be licensed now, and heaven forbid it looks like a pit bull.

  • tz1

    Not quite.

    Assuming it is 160 years ago and your family is gathered at a Southern Plantation and it is being served by the house Nig… Servants. (I know even that reference is causing splodey heads). And you are an abolitionist and can see the cotton fields out the window though the field slaves are away in their quarters.

    That person across from me is a person? So was the baby she murdered in her womb.

    And then the pestering “Did you vote for Trump?” because you are known to have conservative tendencies. If you say “yes”, they will unperson and evict you. But if you say “no” you are lying to them. And they won’t let you stay silent.

    When you admit you voted for Trump and try to say something 2/3 of the table screech at you that you are a racist KKK sexist abuser monster.

    1. That WAS a person I used to talk to, until they sold their soul and became a high-functioning undead zombie that wants to eat my brain since it still functions.

    2. God DOES love them. But not their sin or the fact they are going to hell. If “them” was an abortionist like Tiller and Gosnell? God loved them too. God loved Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Phol Pot, and every monster. He also loved their victims. He didn’t love their sins. And love means bringing them to repentance, not confirming them in their sins.

    3. Politics aren’t everything. They are minor. But even in the Moore kerfuffle, sexual assault and abuse aren’t “politics”. Murdering children in the womb isn’t “politics”. Destroying the traditional family isn’t “politics”. Taking a carving knife and slitting the throats or plunging it into the chests of your relatives isn’t “politics”. But there is a tendency to call taking stands based on reason, evidence, morality, truth, and goodness as mere politics.

    • BroFrank

      “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 )

      “ But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
      (1 Peter 3:15-17)

      I do think you have a point, here. tz1.
      So . . . is all of American Christianity now reduced to nice “nothings”?

      Has “witnessing” for Christ been reduced to mere “theological discourse” about a born again experience that makes no difference in our world view? Is this how the Lord will see it when we stand before Him (Lev. 19:17, Eph. 5:11)? –Or, have we effectively already lost our freedom of expression in the US—as is obviously the case within “closed” countries, such as North Korea and the like? Yes, there are tactful ways to approach these issues, but living in a “blue” state (or many places within the US today) should give us abundant opportunity to “practice” this grace!

      • tz1

        There is a point in being civil, and respecting the commandment to “Honor thy Father and thy Mother”. But the first commandment is to honor God.

        While I would not initiate conflict (See “Just War theory”), if others bring things up and are wrong – in the sense of evil – they need to be corrected.

        Beyond that, is it feelz, or reason and evidence and a rational discussion where we can agree to disagree after addressing each other’s points. Or the point and screech more common.

        Even at Thanksgiving, we ought not let the Though Police Tyrants silence us without a fight. If everyone else refrains from sensitive issues I shall do so (won’t be a problem where I am, unless I have to control the attacks from the right). But if someone starts, I will first ask if it is fair game, and either they will shut up or I will open up.

  • Lisanna

    Another option is to just not have dinner with them. When you admit you voted for Hillary, you are admitting you supported a lead activist in the war on women for many years. [bimbo eruptions] You are admitting you were perfectly willing to overlook the sexual crimes committed by her sexual predator husband and had no problem dragging him back in the White House. Who wants to have dinner with such an amoral person? I sure don’t.

    Sadly, we have one person in our family who is a libtard. She makes it easy to leave her out because, while we were willing to overlook her lack of intelligence in voting choices, she verbally attacked most family members. Most have cut her off completely, including her own children and grandchildren. She has alienated her children, grandchildren, brother and brother in law. She is a 78 year old woman who is all alone ……with her politics. SAD.

    • Mo

      Notice how it’s always those on the conservative side who make these sorts of appeals for peace at family gatherings/holidays? When have you ever read an article by a liberal saying these things?

      • eddiestardust

        My favorite Aunt, last year, who is very much a liberal….

        • Mo

          Which major publication or site published this article?

    • eddiestardust

      I hear a rather strong hint of bias against an elderly member of your family..Carry on like this and when she passes from this life you will realize how sorry you feel….

      • Mo

        @ eddiestardust

        Trying to put false guilt/shame on someone is not an argument. Address the points made.

      • Lisanna

        It’s more than BIAS, it’s honest dislike. I feel sorry she ruined so many relationships in her last years. SAD.

  • LYoung

    ‘Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife’ Proverbs 17:1

  • Supertx

    We have some wildly different views thrown together, but we are all able to “agree to disagree” in most cases. We also try to recognize that we are all concerned about many of the same problems, just don’t agree on the way to fix them.

  • benevolus

    Didn’t Pastor Keith Moore suggest we just say, “It’s so good to see you!” and then shut up?

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