Christianity Is Neither Democratic nor Republican—It’s Better Than Both

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By Stephen Mattson

If Christianity means loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself, then people of both political persuasions fall short of Christ’s central doctrine of sacrificial love.

No political party has the market cornered on Christian beliefs, and despite each side’s religious rhetoric, faith-based endorsements, and passionate attempts to secure Christian voters, neither has God’s best interests at heart.

Political parties are tasked with many things, but carrying out the Gospel isn’t one of them.

Yet Christians continue to fall into the sinful temptation of limiting the practice of their faith according to their political beliefs, and they’re often only willing to follow Jesus up to the point where it’s agreeable to their partisan ideologies.

Followers of Christ must realize that the Kingdom of Heaven will never be fully realized through worldly governments or carnal politics, but rather through the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. And according to the Bible, we can tell what the fruits of this type of Godly kingdom look like: joy, peace, happiness, self-control, charity, grace, forgiveness, justice, hope, and love.

Followers of Christ must realize that the Kingdom of Heaven will never be fully realized through worldly governments or carnal politics, but rather through the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Christians co-opt their faith by injecting political agendas, Jesus’ example of freedom is exchanged for control, his hope exchanged for fear, his love exchanged for hate, and his divinity exchanged for idolatry.

Christianity then becomes compromised by ideas, propagandas, and agendas that have little to do with Jesus and more to do with gaining dominance over our political and worldly enemies—and even our non-enemies, those the Bible refers to as our neighbors. When this happens, Christianity turns into something that looks nothing like the Christ it claims to worship. For example:

How did helping the poor become so politicized?

How did accepting the foreigner and outcast become so debatable?

How did providing aid to the poor become so objectionable?

How did welcoming refugees become so argumentative?

How did providing hope and assistance to immigrants become so divisive?

How did things like justice, equality, and charity become so contentious?

How did Christianity become so un-Christlike?

Simple, foundational truths that are central tenets of the Christian faith—treating others as you would like to be treated, loving your neighbor—suddenly become muddled and full of conflict. Why? Because of politics.

Christians can become so irrationally blinded by culture wars, debates, and their own opinions about hot-button issues that they often sacrifice the Gospel of Jesus. Instead of humbly seeking to follow the example of Christ, too many of us  would rather remain faithful to our own political worldview.

Jesus was neither a Democrat nor Republican, and he was surprisingly detached from the political institutions and movements of his day. Jesus was arrested, put on trial, and ultimately tortured on a cross for refusing to submit to governing authorities. The Roman Empire, the ruling political system of Jesus’s time, legally killed Jesus—according to their established laws and bureaucratic policies—in one of the most humiliating and painful ways possible.

The earliest generations of Christians were similarly killed and martyred for refusing to forsake the Gospel for any type of political cause or authority—remaining faithful to Jesus, despite having to sacrifice literally everything.

Yes, Christians can be involved in politics, and yes, political systems can bring about good and just outcomes (which Christians should support), but our political allegiances should never come at the expense of shortchanging the Gospel of Christ, and they should never be detrimental to those made in the image of God (all of humanity). If you hold this view, you must realize how restrictive and prohibitive politics actually are to carrying out God’s will.

Our political allegiances should never come at the expense of shortchanging the Gospel of Christ.

This is why we should never allow our faith to become overshadowed by politicians, political systems, or the short-sighted motivations they represent. Because the way of Jesus is better than any political policy.

Christians are called to prioritize God over everything—elected officials, political parties, laws, and even our own self-interests. Doing this is often irrational and nearly always countercultural, but this is what it means to be a follower of Christ. God help us.

Stephen Mattson graduated from the Moody Bible Institute and is currently on staff at the University of Northwestern—St. Paul. You can follow him on Twitter @mikta.

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9 Responses

  1. Jim Baton says:

    Amen, Stephen! Good article!
    We’ve gotten to a place in our society where our labels make us feel somehow superior, even more righteous, than those with the other labels. We’ve even gone beyond “Republicans” and “Democrats” to a new label–“Trump Supporters”–spoken in a derisive tone in many contexts, as though supporting our president is a shameful thing.
    Jesus was no stranger to labels, being called, “friend of tax collectors and sinners,” “partner with Beelzebub,” “anti-Caesar,” etc., but Jesus himself was careful not to label others. On the contrary, he told stories that exalted those with negative cultural labels, such as praising the tax collector who humbly prayed, or the Samaritan who loved a Jew like a neighbor.
    We who profess to follow Jesus need to lead the way in ignoring labels and loving all of our neighbors, especially those different than us, as Jesus loved.

    • Mike M says:

      Supporting a President who doesn’t deserve support is shameful. But, that’s up to each person to decide. I’m sure if Trump goes too far you will not support him, similar to the way John the Baptist and Jesus did not support King Herod. In fact, they opposed him.

    • Woody says:

      You left out “snowflakes”. Let both sides be known. No one is better than the other. No sin is big or small it’s all sin. One can face hells torment for being an adulterer just as one can for being a murderer.

  2. Michelle Floyd Bickers says:

    Ahhhhh, Stephen, you have spoken the truth! I find myself incredibly disillusioned with both parties, believers who claim Jesus but engage in vitriolic posts, and fellow Christians who have embraced despair when hope is at the center of our faith. Have we forgotten? Thank you for reminding us of our call, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself.”

  3. Malcolm Watts says:

    Thank you for this article. What if a large number of thoughtful Christians, Evangelicals in particular, withdrew from any party political connection ? And, instead, asked searching questions of those seeking political office. Questions that, precisely and with firmness, required practical policy answers. Answers that are made public. On issues that centre around matters of justice, political motivation, human relationships. Such a move may inject reflection, consistency, moral clarity, ethical substance into political elections. And increase a positive christian distinctiveness.

  4. Ginny says:

    When a party endorses abortion, how can we as Christians support that party? I know there are many other issues, but this one seems foundational.

    • Martha says:

      This is the misconception that has Christians abandoning all the other precepts of the faith — care of the poor, embrace of the stranger, the immigrant, the refugee, stewardship for God’s creation — all due to being blinded by that one “shiny brass ring” — abortion.

      One party does not “endorse abortion.” It endorses choice, where that decision is made between a woman and God, an internal conversation of crisis that Christians should be loath to co-opt by political means. Its foundation is that there is an intimate sphere wherein the government may not tread: the sphere of love, family, and faith that is made in the interiority of that person (not by the government.) Regardless of whether you concur with this view: for Christians to be blinded by the one “shiny brass ring” of abortion, when doing so means turning their backs to the destruction of our oceans, God’s creation and fellow creatures, this Sacred Earth — is doing just what Ms. Mattson suggests: sacrificing the whole cloth of Christ’s teachings to a “hot button” item. I believe the Republican party is playing to that dynamic purposefully. It’s no secret that Republicans have pursued an anti-environmental platform for decades: one now reaching such a “rape and pillage” crescendo that our sacred created Earth is quite literally at risk. It’s akin to a holocaust, on environmental terms, what is being done to the planet.

      I see no “pro Life” foundation there: for Christ would not turn his back on the entirety of Creation, and neither should we. There is a bit of hubris to presume Christ even wants that “conversation of crisis” taken away from the woman facing it, when it could be the means to His will in her life that we can neither predict nor see.

  5. Bart says:

    Don’t tell me what Christmas might want show me in the bible what he wants. Human life is fore front of what bible is all about. You need human life for the bible to have any real intent.

  6. Bart says:

    Human life is reason the bible was written it top of story for bible. Without human life the bible has no purpose. So abortions are very sinful.

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