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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16 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.

      • John says:

        Do you love God and His Scriptures? Your argument does not reflect what the Scriptures say. Sorry for my being too blunt with you. I am really sorry!
        But please note that God has not sent His Word to be accepted and understood by any people of the world, (for without a salvation experience in Christ Jesus, they are still slaves to Satan or the powers of darkness and inasmuch as the Scripture is both salvation and judgment from God sent into the world), but by those He has graciously chosen to reveal His Word to, so that they may be saved and live according to His purpose. You cannot understand the Scriptures or the mind of God by human intelligence alone, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit. You can be part of God’s people if you can truthfully accept His invitation to become your Father and to love Him. Please understand, true Christians do not live by the perspectives of the world that oppose God, but by the sure, unwavering declarations of the Scriptures by which they have been made a different people, and you cannot take this them… This is what makes the difference between Christians and those who pretend to be Christians and don’t love God. For they hate Him by their words, the choices they make and the principles by which they make their lives. I can help if you have questions, sorry sister!

        • Tim says:

          No John and Ginny, we are called to be stewards of all life. I am so sick of this whole self righteous hypocrisy of this so called pro-‘life’ movement. You cannot be pro-life unless we are pro-life of all life, from womb to tomb. And we are to be pro-life in all matters, on the quality, preservation, and both human and non-human life. I have absolutely had it with this ‘choosing of the lesser evils’ to justify political siding. Absolutely despicable.

  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.

    • Tim says:

      I am so sick of this hot button issue on Abortion being the justification for having to go republican. I have had it with this ‘lesser of the two evils’ in order to make the Right wing the heroes when they are doing so many horrible things. The whole point of this article was against political parties and endorsing the good and rejecting the bad on both sides.

    • MICHAEL EARLY says:

      Singling out certain sins is a complete misrepresentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways. After much meditation and scripture reading I received revelation that God truly is not “Republican” nor “Democrat”. I have been freed from the misconception that if one votes “Republican” that he or she is considered accepted in God’s sight. I say pray and let the Holy Spirit, the peace of God, guide you. You WILL be surprised at what HE will show you BUT you must yield to HIM.

  7. Eli says:

    Thank you so much for this article!! However, I find myself confused… If we vote independent, we basically have no vote. If we vote right or left, we are mere pawns. As Christians, we are called to honor our authorities, but how do we chose? It is true, it is the less of evils. Republicans are pro-life which in reading the Bible, I can understand how one may feel they are right but I must agree with Martha. The other side gives a choice. If God gives us free will, then who are we to take what God chose to give? It sort of defeats his gift, he loves us soooo much that he wants US to chose. John, I am not confused. But let’s say I went with that “button” on the other side, they do not look out for our world, our earth, the less fortunate, foreigners in need….
    How do we chose? Great article, thank you… Wondering who Jesus would vote for? Would he vote? If neither side is really for Gods plan and we are called to honor our authority, how do we chose? I am neither one nor the other, I just want to honor God. “My sheep listen to my voice” John 10:27

  8. Eli says:

    And how can we avoid falling into being a pawn? Choosing a side is a distraction to making an impact on the REAL issues. How can we avoid this political distraction and make a difference for Gods purpose?

  9. Mike Early says:

    God will not be limited to what we consider to be His political agenda (abortion or whatever other conservative value that we place in that category). If you are a disciple of “Christ” first, then righteous behavior becomes a lifestyle. NOT for the purpose of pointing fingers at others but to win them through true Christlike behavior. With that said it is a deception to say that one party has the gospel down due a few selected political agenda items. GOD is much greater and bigger than that!!

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