Christians and partisanship

I’m not going to argue that Christians should never be a part of a political party. There are perfectly good reasons for Christians to be a part of one. Simple and logical reasons are that there are places where if you want to fully participate in the electoral process, it only makes sense to be a part of one of the parties. I get that.

And yet…

Maybe there’s a better question than the all or nothing version of should Christians be in a political party or not. Maybe the better question is this – is there a clearly defined line that Christians should not cross when it comes to loyalty to party?

Maybe one way of looking at this is to say that Christians should not be party animals – as in the donkey and elephant. By that I mean, at what point does one’s party registration become more foundational to one’s identity than one’s faith? At what point has a Christian cross a line in which their party loyalty has superseded their faith?

Here’s the answer – I don’t know. What I do know is that there is not a nice uniform universal answer to that question. Some people are really good about being a part of a political party and knowing that it is secondary to their faith. For those folks, it’s not even close and not difficult. They stay far away from confusing their loyalties. How many people? I have no idea.

Unfortunately, there are folks though who, either consciously or not, have somehow turned their political identification into something more than what it started out to be for them. When one’s loyalty to political party become the primary source, the foundation, the thing that is listened to in order to make decisions, then it no longer a political party – it’s a faith.

How many people? I have no idea. I just don’t think any of this is easy or simple. And I don’t think anyone really thinks about this either. It’s not like a person wakes up one day and says, “You know, today, I’m going to take my political party loyalty and turn it into my religious faith.” It happens slowly, through small decisions, accumulated over time. It happens when we listen to politicians and stop questioning if the person is telling the truth. It happens when we start to think that the fate of the nation hinges on a specific election and specific outcomes and if those things don’t happen, it will spell out the end. It happens when we start to believe the rhetoric – not just any rhetoric – but rather the rhetoric of extremes, the us/them narratives, the all or nothing statements. It happens when we buy into the fear that is sold. It happens when we sense that if we question the ideology, the politicians, the party, then we fear we will be cast out. None of these on their own do it. But added together over time – it has taken over and you probably don’t even realize. It’s just normal. And you have no reason to question it. When we aren’t capable of questioning, then it’s time to wake up – to be woken up.

Should Christians be in a political party? I’m not going to telly you that you should or shouldn’t. I will say this – I see no need to be in one for me. I’ve been a part of one, very much a part of one. And when I left, I felt free. That’s what the Gospel does – it frees us. In my case, leaving the party I was registered in was freeing. And I had no reason to sign up for another party. Why would I? I was just made free. Why would I trade that in? But that’s me. And that’s a part of my story and the challenge that I have faced where I confused party loyalty with something far greater. I’m grateful for being set free from that.

You have to make your own decision and figure out what works for you. If you are in bondage, then know that it doesn’t have to be that way – regardless of whether we are talking about partisanship or anything else. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can be free. And when you are freed, I know this – it’s a weight off your shoulders. You can see clearer. There is no need to defend what you felt compelled to defend before. You are free. That’s what Christians are called to. It’s what is offered.

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