Christ or State?Jordan Mabe | October 17, 2018
How does a Christian fit into a political system?
This must be a question I have asked myself a thousand times over. I used to consider myself pretty apolitical. I honestly tried my best to ignore politics and not care. But then one day, something funny happened:
I learned morals.
I remember in high school I took a class called “Introduction to Christian Ethics”. I think it was in this class where I first heard the quote “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor…”. This phrase has stuck with me. It gnaws at me. It caused me to reevaluate my entire political stance. I started out very libertarian (I think, mostly due to influence from my family), but slowly became more conservative as time went on. (I’ve expressed before that I do not believe Christians need to be conservative. Some of my closest friends and mentors are politically liberal). But is that truly how I should fit as a Christian?
This is a question that I feel many Christians are trying to answer. The New York Times recently published an article by Timothy Keller exploring this concept. The article is titled “How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t”. And while I agree with a lot of what is stated in this article, I do have a few problems with it. Mostly that Mr. Keller expresses an issue in the lives of most Christians today, but never provides a solution. He explains that “If we are only offensive or only attractive to the world and not both, we can be sure we are failing to live as we ought”. But this does not answer the question.
Stating that Christians do not entirely fit into any single party is valid. And I do not think we should try to. Even if an entirely separate party was created solely on Christian values, Christians would still disagree on those values. This is reflected in one of the stories Mr. Keller tells:
I know of a man from Mississippi who was a conservative Republican and a traditional Presbyterian. He visited the Scottish Highlands and found the churches there as strict and as orthodox as he had hoped. No one so much as turned on a television on a Sunday. Everyone memorized catechisms and Scripture. But one day he discovered that the Scottish Christian friends he admired were (in his view) socialists. Their understanding of government economic policy and the state’s responsibilities was by his lights very left-wing, yet also grounded in their Christian convictions. He returned to the United States not more politically liberal but, in his words, “humbled and chastened.” He realized that thoughtful Christians, all trying to obey God’s call, could reasonably appear at different places on the political spectrum, with loyalties to different political strategies.
Everyone has very different opinions on what God expects of us in our Christian lives. And that is okay. But God does expect us to live in a way that glorifies Him. We may disagree for eternity on what our convictions should be, but we still need to live by those convictions. I think you should carefully consider what God would have you do and which system you should affiliate with, but you should pick a side.
As Christians, when we see injustice, we should be driven to action. We should not be afraid of any position or career that enables us to help and love others. Christians should be politicians, lawyers, judges, and military leaders. Most of the greatest men and women to ever live were incredibly religious. Our faith is something that should completely encapsulate and guide our lives, including our political opinions.
No side will ever be perfectly aligned with all Christian values, but that does not mean you should attempt to abstain. In silence, you choose the side of the oppressor.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality” – Desmond Tutu