Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Romans 12:1-3)
I say, what business does a Christian have being a Conservative? Yet what I really mean moves beyond that. What business does a Christian have being a (big C) Conservative or a (big L) Liberal? What business does a Christian have being a Republican or Democrat? What business does a Christian have becoming embroiled in any political argument that involves taking sides and casting stones at the opposition?
This has been on my mind a lot lately. There was a time, on this blog, where the tag line read something like, “YES! I am a gay-affirming tree-hugging liberal Christian bleeding-heart left-wing-loony environmentalist nutjob!” That was back in the day when both this blog, and I, were much younger. I took on all of those titles as my own because they were initially cast at me as insults in comments on my post, and rather than being offended I just said, “yes! I’m all of those things! And I don’t care what judgment you make of me as a result, I’m proud to have earned your insults.”
Yet I was being naive, and if I could go back and do it all over my approach may have been different. After all, those accusations said more about the person commenting than they did about me, and my response was in it’s own way a judgment. Why throw up my hands and behave as if there was nothing I could do or say but simply agree, “yes, I’m a liberal nutjob. So what?”
All of those labels refer to things of this world. They refer to political stances and loyalties that come out of our government and political debate. They have nothing to do with faith or adherence to God. By allowing myself to be labeled, or labeling myself, I ceased to be speaking just as a Christian and instead became just another voice in the gay-affirming tree-hugging liberal Christian bleeding-heart left-wing-loony environmentalist nutjob crowd. Even with “Christian” thrown in there, the label of Christian didn’t really reflect my own identity in God, it reflected a series of assumptions about who I must be that the world cast on my and I continuously fought against. There were times where I found myself fighting against my self-assigned tags.
I know Christians who espouse some liberal views, but those views are rooted in their faith. I know some Christians who espouse some conservatives values, and those values are rooted in their faith. I know some Christians who espouse some liberal and some conservative views simultaneously and don’t feel that there is any conflict between the views. I also know Christians who identify as (big C) Conservatives and (big L) Liberals, and this is where things get sticky. The Conservative crowd and the Liberal crowd out there in the world do not reflect the intent of God. They have a platform and a list of loyalties that are at their very core worldly. By fighting to defend Liberalism or Conservatism you inevitably end up in a position where it becomes about weakening and demoralizing the other side. I cringe in my very bones every time I see a Christian saying something like “liberals just want more government handouts” or “conservatives will take away your rights.”
When you say something like that, you just took off your Christianity. You are not speaking words of love or redemption. Your mind isn’t renewed. You are in the world, speaking of the things of this world, and your loyalty in those words is not to the Creator who wishes the redemption of all creation but to a political party.
The conservative platform, while in parts reflective of God’s nature, does not contain the entirety of God’s will. How could it? It is of the world. The same is true of the liberal platform. In fact, both of those platforms (as well as the Republican and Democratic) eventually come to the point where what they ask you to adhere to is antithetical to adhering to God’s word. Not only that, but to take on the label at some point there must be an assumption that one group is right and the other is wrong. Such haughtiness contradicts the kind of attitude a Christian is supposed to have, one of ‘not thinking better of one’s self’ and seeking God’s mind above our own.
If our minds are renewed, we ought to transcend such petty labels and the arguments they birth. While our lives as Christians may at times demand our involvement in political debates, we cannot forget who we are. Our loyalty to God and each other must, at all times, be first and foremost. When two people who claim allegiance to the same creator start tearing into each other as Republicans and Democrats, the faith is shamed.
It’s something to think about.