Hard Questions: Political Affiliations
Hard Questions: Political Affiliation
by Stephanie Miller
The current political climate of our world is volatile enough to make anyone want to bury their head in the sand; but I believe to be effective Christians, we are called to do the opposite. As believers, we often remain silent when we should be speaking up about what we believe. I’ve heard it said that honesty is responding with truth when prompted, but transparency is offering the truth even without prompting. Both are right actions, but one is better: one takes true strength. We can stand strong and reflect Christ in this politically charged world by knowing that we are Christians before we are anything else.
It has been said that political beliefs are first shaped by parents, then by the people closest to us, then by educational systems, in which most of our formative years are spent, and then by our peers. If we are not careful, we run the risk of falling into a trap of aligning ourselves with any of these rather than with God. At the end of the day, as Christians, Jesus is our king. He controls it all anyway! The Bible says in Daniel 2:21 (NLT), “He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.” This means that no matter who is president, whether Republican or Democrat, we look to Jesus first and foremost to define what is and is not right and what is and is not true. Not a political party.
Many people define themselves based on the political climate around them rather than allowing their beliefs to be the compass they use to navigate it. This cannot be the case for the church. We do not search political parties to determine what is and is not right; we first allow God to establish what is right versus wrong, then apply this to the world around us. No matter what lens we view ourselves through, political or otherwise, if we are to accept any label or identity from man, it should first and foremost be “Christian.” In a way, when we compartmentalize our political beliefs from our Christian beliefs, we expose our spiritual immaturity because we reveal that we are missing the point. What label could possibly hold so much weight that it replaces God’s Word as the standard in a Christian’s life? Our belief in God, our statement of faith and declaration to the world that we are Christians, should inform our political affiliation, not the other way around.
That being said, the political agendas and ideologies we support must be ones that align with God’s Word. We live in a fallen world, where it is impossible to find a government system or agenda or ideology that is perfect—that is, one that stands for unadulterated truth as declared by the Word of God. There are no perfect presidents, congressmen, senators, or even voters; so we truly are not voting for people. Still, we can choose what agenda or person we endorse and juxtapose that choice with the Word of God, not blindly accepting the loudest voice as truth. If a political party stands for something that is contrary to the Word of God, we would be wise not to label ourselves as members of that party.
To take it a step further, if it is contrary to the Word of God, we ought to openly denounce those agendas and not support them. While we live in this world, we must remember that we are not of it. As humans, we crave comfort, but the truth is that God never promised believers a comfortable or steady life. Living a purpose-filled life has never been about comfort or what we can gain from the government systems in place or the world around us. It is about knowing who we are and what we are alive to do. It is about knowing that God alone is our source, not the government. We forfeit divine purpose if we mistakenly choose to reflect the climate of the world around us back to the world, rather than showing them who Jesus is by the way we live, the things we say, and by sharing what we believe.
The Bible demonstrates for us how we can live in this world but not be of it. Regardless of who sits in the seat of governing authority, we are called to submit to our leaders. “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13:1, NLT). Even when we do not understand, we must recognize that God is the One who appoints leaders. We ought to be respectful and honor them, remembering that God is not surprised by the events happening in our world, and He already knows the outcome of all things.
Romans 13:7 (NLT) tells us to “pay [our] taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.” Doing so does not mean that we blindly accept or agree with what is contrary to God’s Word; we still have a responsibility to call out truth and to label lies for what they are. In the third chapter of Luke we are told that John the Baptist openly reprimanded Herod for his immoral acts. Still, John remained submitted to Herod’s authority as king, which I am certain did not cater to his comfort, because he was imprisoned and eventually beheaded as a result of the truth he spoke. John’s continued submission to authority demonstrates that we too can submit to our leaders, knowing that they are accountable to God, whether they do right or wrong. Even when we do not agree with or understand the choices they make, through prayer we can go “straight to the Head” and bring our concerns and worries to God, who will certainly hear us.
Truth Is Truth
A popular phrase circulating our society today is “my truth.” The underlying issue with this phrase is that it suggests that truth is not absolute. While our perception about the truth may change, the truth itself does not. It is easy to look at the newest political development and consult our feelings on the matter, and the media will certainly encourage the masses to do this, but we must remember that our feelings are not God. Only God is God, and the truth is not subject to our feelings. Since when did wanting something to be true make it so? God forbid we get so caught up with the screaming crowd that we forget to listen for the voice of God. He is still speaking, and His message has not changed: holiness, righteousness, and truth.
Let’s not simply settle for picking a side because it is all we can see with our physical eyes. As Christians, we represent a heavenly kingdom. Ambassadors and diplomats do not take on the identity of the nations they are sent to. Isaiah 9:6 (NLT) says, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” We would do well to remember who we are and that the God we serve is Head of an eternal government, of a kingdom that has no end. Do not settle for simply aligning yourself with an earthly government, when you serve a righteous King whose supreme reign will never end.