Hi, friends. Today’s post discusses my whole-hearted rejection of the unholy union between politics and Christianity. Buckle up for a long and bumpy post, ladies and gents. 😉 As usual, skim the bold sentences if you’re pressed for time.
The original title to this post read, “Letting Scripture Inform Our Views vs. Bringing Our Views to Scripture.” But the post went in a slightly different direction as I typed. Also, I just watched a God Is Grey YouTube video about climate change in which, at one point, she discusses how the issue became partisan and how the Moral Majority factors into that. [FYI, I watch videos from Christians of various flavors so I can understand different positions and interpretations.]
BTW, for those unfamiliar with American politics, there are basically two “sides”–the socially and economically liberal, Democrats (legal abortions, more welfare, free and/or inexpensive college and healthcare, that sort of thing) vs. the socially and economically conservative, Republicans (against abortion, advocates tax cuts and less welfare, supports a free market with less regulations and bureaucracy, that sort of thing). Most people express a shade of grey between those black-and-white options, and there are other weird factors to consider (like the conservative party giving tax breaks to the rich yet relying on poor, white votes or liberal extremists wanting to overthrow capitalism/the American way of life or the fact that every politician on both sides is bought and paid for), but that is pretty much the gist.
Scripture Can Be Manipulated to Support Anything
It’s almost amusing how differently people can interpret scripture; you’d think we’re using multiple versions of the gospel.
Just grasping at an issue off the top of my head: I bet there are people who can argue for a minimum wage raise with scriptural support, while others could find scriptural backing for NOT doing so. The first group could point out how God and Jesus both emphasize care for the poor (Leviticus 19:9-10, Matthew 25:40-45) and how are told NOT to build our treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21). The second group might point to verses about working hard, developing the argument that those who want a minimum wage increase encourage mediocrity/idleness (2 Thesalossians 3:6-13, Proverbs 13:4, Ecclesiastes 5:18). There are more verses with more points to be drawn out here–Jesus saying we will always have the poor with us, verses that condemn wealth vs. verses that tell rich people how they can live faithfully–but you get the idea.
If a person (me) can debate either side without having vested stake in the issue, imagine how zealously one could argue one or the other side if they were extremely passionate about it.
God Never Anointed a Political Party
When members of the same faith completely disagree about political (and any other) issues, the question becomes, who is right? The answer, like scriptural interpretations, seems to vary by person. Some simply insist, “I have discernment from the Spirit; therefore, I’m right.” I advocate holistic readings of scripture that consider the Bible as a whole (looking at the whole forest to determine individual trees’ meaning) and accounting for the spirit of the law. But I don’t want to go too far down rabbit trails, so back to the point…Which political party reflects God’s will?
Neither. Neither “side” is right because God, Jesus, and the Bible are not means to an end–especially not a political end. The creator of the world, the savior of the world, and their holy words cannot be filtered into worldly ideologies with arbitrary divisions (more on that under “Some Final Musings”).
Examples of Faith Taking Politics Too Far
I get frustrated that people marry their politics with their faith. I’ll be honest–living in a rural area of the South, I see it more often with conservatives. The day before writing this post, I saw this quote making the social media rounds–“A true Christian cannot vote for a party that kills children.” (a conservative referencing abortion and the liberal party)
I avoid confrontation nowadays, but I thought to myself, “Can a true Christian vote for a party that cuts funding to healthcare for the poor and elderly?” I’m not even “a liberal;” I just felt like throwing in another perspective because it is unwise to view these things in a black-and-white way…”A TRUE Christian is unquestionably loyal to this leader or group outside of Christianity”…Umm, excuse me?
However, I’ll be fair and dole out some rebuking towards the other side of the aisle. The United Methodist Church is liberal overall, which I appreciate with instances like empowering women clergy, but sometimes it goes too far. United Methodist Women gets too involved in politics, in my opinion…participating in protests and marches, even giving us letters to send to our Congress members. Thank the Lord that is just a small part of the mission organization, but it goes to show that people of all political flavors are guilty of equating following Jesus to supporting a particular party/leader.
Our Faith Should Affect Our Politics, But…
Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that politics and religion should be compartmentalized separately in a person’s mind/heart. In fact, our faith should influence our politics because our beliefs should branch out into every area of our lives.
We should honestly ask ourselves, am I loyal to God first and foremost, and do I have a healthy understanding of the fact that no political party really meets the definition of God-honoring? Or do my real loyalties lie with a political or other kind of group?
Some Final Musings
For those who are new around here, I was VERY conservative a couple years ago. As I pursue God and read scripture diligently, and as the Spirit has softened my heart, I have gotten to the point where a political label can’t define me. I see good and bad in both sides. [Read more about it here]
Earlier, I called the differences in (American) political parties arbitrary, and I’ll tell you why I said that. Especially in America, we tend to have a limited view about how others in the world think and do things differently. I recently watched an older documentary about health care where the filmmaker interviewed a Canadian man. Canada has universal healthcare, and while the man being interviewed supported this, he said he is active in their conservative political party.
In America, universal healthcare is practically viewed as communist, and opposition to that is fundamental to identifying as conservative. Yet, in Canada, universal healthcare is a nonpartisan issue, so conservatives and liberals alike can support it. Seeing that exchange opened my eyes to how flimsy and flexible political designations like “conservative” and “liberal” are, which makes the marriage of politics and faith even more untenable. For instance, if God has somehow anointed the conservative party, does He oppose universal healthcare in America but support it in Canada? The argument just disintegrates.
What about you? Do you bring your views to scripture, or does scripture inform your views? What are your political views? What is the political situation in your country? Let me know in the comments.
BTW, please provide some insight into the healthcare issue if you are Canadian (or if your country also has universal healthcare). What is the general attitude towards it? Is it viewed as nonpartisan? You know I’d love to be better informed.
Thanks for reading!