Like the saying goes, politics and religion don’t mix. But what about politics and faith? Religion is more of a man-made creation, while faith is something quite different. The real question then, is what do we do when politics and faith collide? Are we prepared for the answer?
Religion has been dragged into politics since for what seems like forever. Politicians routinely use religion as a campaign prop, dragging it out when they need to reach a certain voter segment. Religion has also been abused by politics and it has paid a very steep price for that unfortunate coupling. But religion doesn’t necessarily equal faith, so the issue really has to be separated out.
What’s the Difference?
Faith is a belief — it’s an enduring sense of truth that doesn’t need proof. Faith is much more than just saying “I’m a Christian,” because it’s actually about living that faith according to the teachings and doctrines of, as an example, Christianity.
Religion on the other hand, is more about people who share the same beliefs and who come together to, as humans tend to do, classify, measure and label. In other words, they organize it.
Religion is “Catholic, Baptist,” etc. It’s the act of going to Church on Sunday, having your Confirmation or occasionally reading the Bible. Faith on the other hand, is far more powerful. Faith is believing and having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father. Faith, is a passionate belief and an enduring desire to follow the tenets of that faith. For example, a person of true faith doesn’t just read a Bible passage, but rather, learns what Christ taught and then, follows those teachings in every part of their life. It’s a living faith and not an organized religion.
When Politics and Faith Collide
It’s a bit of a blurred line when we consider how our political views meld with our faith. For example, what do we do when we like a certain political party or politician, but the words and actions of those politicians clash with our faith? Consider these two passages that the Bible and Jesus teach us:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
So if we’re to be faithful Christians and follow the teachings that are absolutely central to our faith, how do we reconcile following a politician who violates these tenets? Can we support a politician who writes or enacts laws or policies that are harsh or violate the rights of people?
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:12-13
“All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” – Ephesians 4:31-32
Often, we follow one of the major political parties because we believe that they best represent our own values. And to be fair, that makes sense, especially when we consider that people are of different faiths and some are atheists. But for Christians, we have a challenge: do we put country and party over faith, or is faith supposed to always come first. The answer isn’t a difficult one, because a true Christian never has to ask the question: the answer is, true, faithful Christians must always put God above everything and that is especially true of politics.
Consider politicians who are perhaps petty or mean-spirited — ones who speak like a Lamb, but act like a Lion, or ones who routinely espouses anger and bitterness. How can a true Christian, in all good conscience, support that politician?
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” – 2 Timothy 2:23-24
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:6-8
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.” – Romans 16:17
When we put politics ahead of what we know to be right, we’re choosing an earthly leader over God. When we knowingly choose a person who acts contrary to everything we hold dear as Christians, we’re abandoning our faith. I know that may be hard for some to accept, but that’s because we have become obsessed with politics and in holding up certain politicians as heroes, even if undeserving of that accolade.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” – Colossians 3:23-25
“Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.” – Psalm 101:5
“Like a roaring lion or a charging bear, is a wicked ruler over a helpless people.” – Proverbs 28:15
Christians are here to love and help all, we’re here to be kind, generous, fair-minded, welcoming and forgiving — that is not an opinion, that is a fact and we can never let another man or woman cause us to lose sight of that. People wrestle with their conscience throughout life. For a Christian, we need so ask ourselves if our views align with what God expects of us and what Christ taught us, or if we’re on the wrong path. If our personal bias runs contrary to what we’re meant to be as commanded, then we’re not truly living in faith and that is hypocrisy — that’s not an easy thing to admit, but we are required to do such soul searching.
When I consider any political leader, I want to know their character, as well as their accomplishments. If they’re good and try to do good for others and if they’re of a strong moral character, then I give them further consideration. If however they speak and act in direct opposition to my Christian faith, I do not.
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” – Proverbs 6:16-19
“A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good. Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things; he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.” – Proverbs 16:28-30
“As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” – Titus 3:10-11