What if the lens we viewed politics through was the Bible? No, really! Seriously. For me, it might go something like this:
The way of Christ compels me to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. The call to love God with all of my heart is troubling considering how easy it is to love other things, including political parties. At some point, if I love God with all of my heart, I’m going to have to pick a side. No, not a political side — I mean choosing between the way of Christ and the ways of the world. No political party or its ideology is blameless before the Almighty.
If I love God with all my mind, then I’m called to think upon things above and not below. Into which category do the pundits and talking heads fall? Should I blindly vote for one party because that’s the party for which a good evangelical pastor should vote? Where’s the line between giving God my entire mind and surrendering my ability to reason and think to a party platform? Many are content to let others do their thinking for them.
What about giving God all of my soul? It goes without saying how many candidates, judges and politicians have been bought by corporate interests. This is true on the left and the right. If I place my hope (any of it) in a political system that has long since sold its soul to greed, do I worship God with all my soul?
Finally we come to strength. Do we truly love God with all our strength when we obsess with projecting strength as a nation? Upon whose strength are we relying? Can we really love God with all our strength when we invest so much time, energy and resources into the politics of the day?
That just covers the first greatest commandment, but the second is like it — “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In light of this teaching, I unequivocally condemn xenophobia, racism, making fun of handicap people, demagoguery, “carpet bombing,” torture, even the faintest hint of genocide, misplaced nationalism, pride and all forms of misogyny, for all of these ideas and habits run counter to the rich truth that we are all made in God’s image, and that each person is my neighbor.
I passionately rebuke threats to religious liberty (for all faiths, and not just Christians), the bent towards militarism as the first and only solution to any of our problems, political corruption and cronyism, as completely antithetical to the way of Christ.
Moreover, in the name of Christ I fervently denounce phony and contrived pandering to Christians, the hijacking of the word “Evangelical,” a reliance on a party (or candidate, or nation-state) as our savior rather than Christ, the “us vs. them” rhetoric, derogatory language, and appealing to peoples’ fears rather than their greater aspirations and potential, for “God did not give us a spirit of fear.”
As a proud Baptist, I ardently caution against and woefully mourn the dangerous desire of some to see a marriage of church and state. Separation of church and state are good for both, because each is stronger when not using the other as a crutch. Jesus indeed taught, “Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” You know what is definitely not Caesar’s? The Church.
I decry as reprehensible the bankrupting of our children’s moral and financial futures, glorification of power and wealth, the continued rape of God’s creation by foreign and domestic business interests, and the disparity in income and influence between a ruling class and the poor, because thinking about future generations shows godly character. A wise man once wrote, “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it” (Proverbs 21:20). We foolishly devour our resources (monetary, natural, and human) just to get ahead for a day, completely content to let future generations deal with impacts of our greed and narcissistic stupidity.
The fact that we’ve spent over $400 billion on developing a fighter jet that came online this past year (which Pentagon experts say is already outdated) juxtaposed with the fact that it would only cost $10 billion to provide clean drinking water for every person on earth is downright sinful. I could go on.
Love your neighbor as yourself? Hardly.
If pastors talk about these issues, they should have no problem with tacitly endorsing any candidate, because they’ll be critiquing all of them.