Mixing Christianity And Politics4 min read
Over the next few posts, I will be spending time to write on what worldviews I think that Christians ought to have about politics. I do hope we can learn together.
During my undergraduate days, someone walked up to me and was pitching a political candidate to me. He started with all the qualities that the candidate had which in his opinion made him a better choice. Then he decided to introduce what he thought would be the clincher – the guy is also a Christian.
I think this guy must have read something on marketing. Just look for something your audience considers very important and align your product to it. And you know, for so long a time, politicians have swept many Christians off their feet with their seemingly public declaration of their Christian faith.
But is it really the fault of the politicians? Within the Christian community, there is a silent unwritten mantra that “we must have Christians in power”. A lot of Christians think that this is the answer to all the problems of the world. Some Church leaders even try to force the tag of “Christian” on some of their preferred candidates as a way of getting all of us on the same boat.
By the way, I did not vote for that candidate. And so many elections later, I may have probably “betrayed” the brotherhood by voting for non-Christians ahead of Christians vying for political office. I have not been able to explain my reasons well enough until now.
I think politics is too narrow to define what should represent our Christian approach to addressing the problems of the world. The responsibility of governance comes from the people they govern. A government’s primary role is to add value to the people they lead. As Christians, we must therefore define our political view from what would benefit the community most.
The greatest benefit to a community is reached when leadership has the ability and strength of character to use the resources of all for the benefit of all. This is where I get my philosophy for political selection. Every candidate must be measured by two essential qualities – Character & Competence.
Can you find people of good character and competence outside of the Christian community? The answer is yes. I will not vote for an incompetent person simply because he is a Christian. His incompetence would bring disgrace to the name of Christ because he would waste the common wealth due of his lack of ability.
Even though I agree that a lot of our moral laws come from a lot of Christian principles, it is possible to be moral without being Christian. It is possible to practice integrity without being a Christian.
If this is possible, then we should focus on a balance personal competence and character. Leadership is a complex responsibility and it requires skill to navigate the complexities of many sometimes conflicting positions when in government. Even Paul admonishes the church not to appoint novices into positions of church leadership.
I do believe that we don’t need to be in government to influence change. But we do need to do it a Christ honouring way. We must do with tolerance. I think that some of the negative backlash we get from society comes from us having handled political authority badly in the past.
We all know of the crusades and persecution by the medieval church of dissenting lifestyle. But we have really not done better in modern times.
Larry Osborne writes*” Back when Christianity was the dominant cultural religion [in the US], we often used our power to shut down those who advocated opposing agendas. We’d raise a fuss and force a college to disinvite a commencement speaker who advocated a godless agenda. We’d pressure sponsors to stop advertising on television shows we didn’t like. We’d boycott non-Christian companies for making non-Christian decisions.”
He goes further to say “Now we’re on the receiving end. As I write this, a TV show has recently been cancelled because of the evangelical leanings of the host. A pastor has been disinvited from praying at the presidential inauguration because he had the audacity to teach what the Bible says about sexuality. And a national chain is under fire because the owners have donated to ballot measures considered antigay.”
We must not see political power as the only power to change the world. That power comes from a lifestyle that honours Christ. When we live like that then the world will really see Jesus. They will experience real change from the inside. That is what we as Christians should always advocate for.
* Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture, Larry Osborne 2015 David C. Cook