I never wanted this to become a political blog, and in many ways, I believe it still has not. My focus here will continue to be Spirit-filled Christianity, devotion to Jesus, and practical training for a lifestyle of miracles. But the fact is that you cannot speak to the heart-condition of America or the American Church without addressing the current political climate. I therefore find myself in an awkward position of wanting to keep my political opinions out of this web site yet also having what I believe are prophetic words for the Church regarding the current political scene.
Barring a crazy upset within the political parties, legal problems for one or both of the two leading candidates, or some sort of weird miracle, it’s looking like we now have a presidential race among Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and probably Gary Johnson (at least as far as candidates printed on the ballots go). A significant portion of the voting population sees this as a win for the person they selected, and a significant portion of the voting population sees this as a nightmare-come-true.
In the interest of full disclosure, I fit best in the latter camp.
But this article is not an “all hope is lost” lament from a dissatisfied voter. Instead, I want us to put political parties aside and take a look at the victory that is available right now to the American Church.
I believe that through this current primary process, God has broken the shackles of the political parties off of the American Church. Now the question is whether we will leave them off or choose to put them back on with a tighter fit than ever before.
The Shackles of the Political Parties
For decades, the Church in America has been primarily divided between two political parties: Republicans and Democrats. (Yes, I am aware of the many independents and third-party voters who follow Jesus as well, but we all know that these have never been a majority and usually choose to compromise by aligning with a major party anyway.)
Christians on both sides have considered “our side” to be the most moral and Christ-like, pointing at serious flaws on the other side and largely ignoring those on our own. At the same time, in order to feel better about our positions, we have trained ourselves to either overlook serious issues with our own party or actually go so far as to find ways to justify those issues. Some have been intellectually honest enough to recognize that alignment with either party requires a sort of moral compromise, but we still approach the debate with closed-minded certainty about our party’s overall moral high-road.
When you step back and look at the whole thing, what you find are Christians divided — held captive to compromise and division by a few token moral issues. Those who side with the Democrats do so because they believe in helping the poor, valuing diplomacy over war, and promoting societal equality. Those who side with the Republicans do so because they believe in saving the lives of unborn children, financial responsibility, and religious liberty. Both sides ignore the virtues of the other side, and both sides ignore the vices of their own side.
But now with Trump and Clinton, we face a situation where both sides promote war, both sides have a track-record of being pro-choice, both sides face looming criminal charges, both sides are supported by establishment politicians and crony capitalists, both sides are ridiculously wealthy despite their cries for income equality, both sides are known for saying or doing whatever it takes and stepping on whomever is in their way to get what they want, both sides are fiscally irresponsible, both sides are noted liars, both sides have threatened to silence free-speech, and more.
More than ever before in recent American History, neither side is at all compatible with Christianity.
Given this, the Church is now released from mere party loyalty to actually consider broader issues and unite with one moral voice in the nation. Now that the two main candidates are both criminally immoral and do not represent Christianity, the chains of our party loyalty have been shattered. We have a true opportunity to proclaim kingdom-truth that transcends the political system and confronts both parties with God’s heart for humanity. We believers have the opportunity to address immorality and injustice within all parties and perhaps even turn the tide of our nation in the future.
How to Embrace Your Freedom
For years, our methods have been to point out the problems with “the other side.” This has only resulted in a growing divide that has become more and more polarizing. But Jesus challenged us to remove the plank from our own eyes before trying to address the speck in someone else’s. Your voice will be loudest when people hear you addressing immorality in the party you’ve most supported through the years.
But we need to address issues across the board with consistency. If we only address one side, then people will merely think we switched parties. That’s not what we’re aiming for. Our goal here is not to merely pick on the political system; it is to rise up as a victorious Church who is not beholden to any political party but rather to the Kingdom of God.
To give you an example, I write the following thoughts as someone who has unwaveringly sided with Republicans for my entire life up to this point and — at least at the moment — still has the word “Republican” on my voter-ID card:
- It is possible to be consistently pro-life – Traditionally, Republicans are against abortion while Democrats are against the death penalty. Even though Romans 13:4 grants capital punishment as a right of the government if it so desires, I think we Christians need to consider the statistical evidence for false convictions, the unbelievably lower cost of keeping the person alive versus modern execution techniques, and — most importantly — the sobering reality that a person only has the chance to repent and turn to Jesus while still breathing. I do not believe it is biblical to be in favor of any policy that rejoices while sending people to hell, so I choose to value abolishing the death penalty right alongside abortion. I have too much hope in the power of God and the potential of a human life once surrendered to Jesus.
- It is possible to be a pro-military pacifist – Many Spirit-filled believers don’t know this, but the early Pentecostals were staunch pacifists who were known to be “conscientious objectors” during the World Wars. Only in recent history has it become normal to consider it a wonderful thing to send our Pentecostal children off to kill muslims rather than seeking to convert them. It may surprise you, though, to hear me now say that I’m very pro-military and am truly grateful to our veterans. We, the Church, are deeply indebted to those who have fought and died to give us the right and the liberty to be pacifists and yet live in safety. I actually don’t have a problem with Christians being in the military, so long as we don’t lose sight of God’s love for our enemies and our need to serve and protect rather than conquer and kill (though I would argue such a position would be difficult to maintain and still follow orders). We want to believe in just war, but it is questionable whether such a thing truly exists (I’m glad Hitler’s gone, but I would have rather seen him become a born-again believer than a hell-bound corpse). We can celebrate those who defend us while also hoping our government does everything possible to avoid war. As for the eradication of evil in the world (like ISIS, for example), lets send more missionaries to convert them with love and the Gospel (just as the Chinese Church is doing throughout the Muslim world right now). It’s time for the Church to put more faith in the power of evangelism than the power of bullets and bombs.
- It is possible to help the poor without putting our nation into debt – Just as I wouldn’t give a homeless person my credit card and say, “use it until you hit the $16,000 credit limit, and I’ll pay the bill when I have the money,” I also don’t believe we should create social programs that we don’t currently have the money to operate. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t cut back on frivolous spending on other programs so that we can actually afford quality care for the poor. As Christians, my wife and I live below our means so that we can be more generous. Why shouldn’t the Christian stance on federal finances also be that we live within our means, cut out frivolous spending, fight with intensity to eliminate our debt, and use whatever we can afford to help the poor? Isn’t that how a Christian household should operate? The Conservative Christian stance has traditionally been that we would rather have money in our pockets that we can give in the name of Jesus than send our money to the government to give in the name of Washington. But the sad irony is that when a poor person actually sits in front of many of us, our first question is, “Isn’t there some sort of social program that could help you?” Perhaps the reason we’ve never considered modeling our nation’s budget after our family’s budget like this is because our family budgets actually do look more like the nation’s: greed, selfishness, frivolous spending, ever-increasing debt, and generosity only when it’s convenient or offers us some benefit. If we’re going to turn our country in the right direction, we need to first turn our homes in the right direction. If we do, then we Christians can be known for helping the poor in the name of Jesus and ALSO supporting a government structure that helps the poor in ways we can’t personally.
Even if you disagree with something I just said, can you imagine if we all actually broke free from our party loyalty and allowed ourselves to speak up for morality and responsibility on all issues?
What if we pulled out all the stops to end abortion — not only through a legal overthrow of Roe v. Wade but also through the creation of social programs that help pregnant mothers look forward to birth, knowing society has their back? What if the homosexual community knew we believed they were in sin yet couldn’t deny our unwavering and outlandish love for them and our belief in their value as human beings? What if we lived so effectively within our means that we could care for our own poor and also take in refugees from other nations with open arms? What if we renounced torture and showed the world what it looks like to treat POWs with respect and human dignity? What if we stopped being “fear-mongering republicans” or “recklessly-irresponsible democrats” and started simply being the victorious Church that transcends the political systems of this world?
This is Our Moment…
The chains have fallen off. I believe God has promoted the leading candidates to the positions they’re in so that the Church actually has to come to grips with an entirely corrupt system. Even if you helped Donald Trump secure the Republican nomination, are you willing to break with any loyalty you might have to a party or a candidate and actually stand with the Kingdom of God? Or will you continue to sing the praises of the most brazenly prideful and unashamedly sinful politician we’ve ever seen?
I’m not telling anyone not to vote. I’m not even telling anyone not to vote for one of the main options we have in front of us. All I’m saying is that this is our opportunity to separate ourselves from the shackles of party loyalty and actually stand up for true morality and Kingdom principles. This is our opportunity to vocally support Jesus even more than we support a particular candidate.
Let’s face it: vocal support of either polarizing candidate is instantly translated in American minds as support for the extreme caricature of that candidate.
- If I say that I support Hillary Clinton, many people will say that I support a big-government, Benghazi-causing, security-jeopardizing, baby-murdering, black-pandering, gun-stealing, anti-Christian, extreme-liberal (though she’s arguably more of a “neoconservative” and doesn’t differ in principles from a lot of current republicans).
- If I say that I support Donald Trump, many people will say that I support a lying, adulterous, railing, bigoted, flip-flopping, vulgar, Hitleresque, extreme-authoritarian.
- And, of course, if I say that I support the Libertarian candidate (probably Gary Johnson), many people will say that a vote for him is a vote for whichever of the other two candidates I like least (not sure how that works out in this situation, but okay).
As you can see, both leading candidates are so morally and ethically corrupt — and both candidates are so “polarizingly” hated by the other side — that support for either one cannot be easily reconciled with our Christian witness. Even the third option on our ballots — Gary Johnson — is disgustingly pro-choice (though he at least would be likely to nominate Constitutional judges to the Supreme Court… I’m still not convinced of whether or not to support him, though).
None of the three choices is a truly “Christian” option.
If we vocally support any of the candidates without also pointing out their blatant flaws, we end up causing half the population to close their ears to our message. But imagine what would happen if we spoke up for Kingdom principles that are free from party politics!
John the Baptist did it:
Luke 3:10-20 — “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
John’s non-political voice carried authority. It resulted in his imprisonment and eventually led to his beheading, but Jesus praised John’s prophetic ministry above all other Old Testament prophets.
It is time for us to value our prophetic voice above our political voice. And contrary to what many of us may want to believe, they’re not the same thing. No matter how much we may wish it were true, your preferred political party is not perfectly in line with the Bible.
Only Jesus is.
Arise, Victorious Church!
I’m calling for a radical unification of the Church. Let’s drop the party-loyalty and be loyal to Jesus and each other. Lets stop looking to a mere human as a savior and turn our eyes to the Lord. As Proverbs 29:26 says, “Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.”
I’m calling for the black Church, the white Church, the organized Church, the grassroots Church, the traditional Church, the contemporary Church, and any other true extension of Jesus’ Body to step away from our political parties and become a unified moral voice in America who exalts Jesus above policies, articulates the Gospel without compromise, and loves each other and the world extravagantly.
Look at the liberty we now have to stand for untainted truth and show love and compassion to people across party lines! This is our moment to speak up like John the Baptist and engage our society with the message of God’s kingdom and His supremacy over all earthly political powers. This is the Church’s opportunity to break free from all conservative or liberal labels and truly be seen as transcending politics.
Will you join me?