Why Christians Should be Leery About Politics
As Christians from the left and right continue to barrage Facebook and Twitter with political rants and pleas, I thought it would be beneficial to consider why Christians should be leery of politics. Politics is an age old game that never ends. Solomon warned us long ago of the danger of politics when he wrote, “If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and right, do not be amazed at the matter; for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them” (Eccl. 5:8). Solomon was not speaking of just Republicans or just Democrats, but of politics in general. It is a nasty business and Christians should remain cautious, especially in the middle of a political season that seems to go on and on.
Here are a few reasons why we should remain skeptical of politics in general:
Politics promotes unethical behavior. The goal of politics is to win no matter what the cost. Lying, cheating, and character assassination are all fair game. Politics is not about arriving at the truth, but about getting another vote. Most of the unethical behavior in politics is relegated to politicians and those who work in the business, but if Christians are not careful then we can quickly give up policies for character assassination. We can just as easily become enamored with the goal of winning and in exchange allow our ethical standards to suffer.
Politics embraces the language of gloom and doom. Fear is one of the strongest motivating factors there is and politicians understand this. They use fear to manipulate people to vote for them, or to support certain policies. The problem with this is that the most common command in the Bible is “Do not fear!” We are supposed to live out of faith rather than fear. Fear also robs us of hope, something Peter says we should be known by (1 Pet. 3:15). Politics has the potential of robbing us of two of the essential elements of Christianity, faith and hope.
It is a choice between the lesser of two evils. Often the political debate is framed as a choice between good and evil, but this is not so. When a person votes they are always voting for the lesser of two evils. There is not a single political party that represents all the morals and ethics that we find in the Bible. Although I believe Christians may vote, I do not think we should get excited about promoting the lesser of two evils. We should be excited about promoting the church, which stands as an alternative to worldly institutions.
Politics is divisive. Simply turn the TV to one of the 24 hour news channels and you are likely to hear two people yelling at one another. This is what politics does. It divides people. Family, friends, and if we are not careful, church members are at odds over politics. Christians need to rise above this behavior. We are to be unified in spiritual matters (Eph. 4:1-6), and should not allow worldly matters to divide us.
Politics offers a false sense of salvation. Political language bounces from one extreme to another. If politicians are not sounding the alarm of gloom and doom, then they are promising followers that they can solve all their problems. Some more charismatic leaders almost come off as messianic with the things people say about them. Politicians of the past are eventually canonized, and people quickly forget about all their mistakes and mishaps. Although the election of a politician may or may not lead to a better quality of life, it has nothing to do with salvation. Politics cannot solve the biggest problems this world faces, and we should not expect it do so. The only answer to the world’s problems is offered by Jesus, and not a politician.
The kingdoms and institutions of men will not last. The Kingdom of God will last forever, but all the kingdoms and institutions of this world will eventually come to an end. We need to keep this in mind when we decide to campaign for a politician or political party. What we are campaigning for will not last. We must also decide where we are going to spend our time and energy. Are we going to spend it on something that will come to an end, or are we going to spend it on something that will last forever?
As we get closer to November, we need to remember that as Christians our full allegiance should be to the Kingdom of God. We have not been called to preach a political message, but to preach Jesus. Remember that no matter what the outcome of the election is our hope and trust is in Jesus.