I recently made a discovery. I am not a Republican.
Having never voted Republican this really shouldn’t have surprised me—but it did. I had always mentally considered myself a Republican by default.
Perhaps the conservative reading this is now making the same mental jump. If you’re not a Republican, then surely you’re than a Democrat? I’m not, although I’m pretty sure that a few of my Facebook friends are convinced I’m a liberal after sharing some articles critiquing Trump.
It’s a very odd feeling, people thinking I’m a liberal.
Because on the flip side I know that actual liberals (among whom I count many of my near and dear relatives) have me in a most decidedly conservative camp—complete with “home-schooled,” “large family,” “Christian,” and “pro-life” labels stamped on it. I mean, how much more conservative can you get?
But what if you have all the above labels but don’t believe in protectionism or imperialism? What if you actually kind of care about the environment, or don’t necessarily think a social safety net is evil? What if you want higher taxes? (Just kidding on that last one.)
I mean, how ironic is it that in a country which prides itself on the full-body embrace of diversity, we insist on understanding politics in terms of two groups? Perhaps this was why our founding fathers disliked a strong centralized government: they knew the only way to all get along was to allow states, unique in their cultural, geographic, and economic make-ups, to be different.
“But what’s the point?” you may ask. What’s the point of a label—old or new?
Everything and nothing.
As a Christian I am called to live as a stranger in a foreign land. This land, our own beloved America, is not my home. I am called to seek the welfare of the state I live in but my primary goal in every aspect of my life is to glorify God—to live the Gospel: to BE Christ to my family, neighbors, co-workers, friends—to invite them into the messy imperfection of my life and show them my wonderful Savior.
I am a Christian, not a Republican.
But here’s the rub. Maybe, Christian brother or sister, you do agree 100% with the Republican platform (or at least more than any other platform.) I believe the time has come to disassociate. I fear that the label “Republican,” once merely a term for those who believed in political “conserving,” has become synonymous with American Christendom and has furthermore become associated with evil. Not just folly, not just differing opinions, but actual evil. You can argue all day about the degree and verity, but I don’t think it matters: we are called to not even have the appearance of evil. Suffer, says Paul in 1 Corinthians, for the gospel: not for doing what’s wrong! (And, I might expound, not for being associated with a party which reeks of corruption, greed, tyranny, racism, bigotry, lies, and more!). It’s not enough that most of Christendom disapproves of the current president: we’ve worked so hard to make Christendom synonymous with Republicanism that Trump is the defacto representative to the watching world! To our shame. Do you not see that our witness, our reputations as Christians and as the Church, is being dragged in the mud with the filth of politics?
Whom do we love? And by whom shall we be known? By our savior? or by our president?
What do we really want as Christians? I think at heart we want all these awful problems to just go away. I know I do. I would prefer to live in a society where I was comfortable.
Because we’re afraid.
We live in an increasingly violent and hateful society. All that is good—innocence, commitment, piety—is despised. We live in fear of ridicule. The media delights in making Christens out as bigoted, hateful, Bible-thumping, women-hating, hypocritical (and secretly-perverted) CRAZY people—(and using as their examples actors or else real people much of the actual church considers apostate or fringe-cultish at best).
We live in increasing fear of loosing our jobs. Losing our businesses, schools, or occupations. We experience hostility in the work place. (I personally have been turned down from a job due to being too religious—“not the right cultural fit.”)
We live in fear of our children being taken away. We do not yet fear for our lives but isn’t it sometimes easier to face death (clear, instant, and a gateway to glory) rather than ongoing daily shame, social ostracization, and suffering?
Yet this is what we are called to. If we really believe in eternity, salvation, and the dire need of the lost: then we are to abandon all and follow Christ, knowing that as they hated Him they will likely hate us. But oh! brothers and sisters, let them hate us for being Christ-like! Let them hate us for the GOSPEL’s sake. Not for for a party-platform, and thereby association with swindlers, tyrants, racists, and revilers.
So what if we’re party-less? So what if we no longer have a home? We have a building from God: a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
It is time to disassociate: to break ties and bind ourselves to Christ. Christians do not belong to one political party. And when your political party blinds people to hearing the gospel, something is wrong.
Here we are going about our daily gospel-spreading lives and you throw a political party into the pot, and do you know what?
The gospel is hard enough.
The Gospel: that while we were yet sinners: Christ died for us.
This is hard enough!
This gospel is our only valid identity, the only label worth having: Christian, bought by Christ, lovers of Truth, Justice, and Mercy. And we ought to care a thousand times more that we are known for our love and willingness to sacrifice every physical comfort for the sake of Christ and His gospel than by ANY political platform or affiliation.
So let’s throw aside every weight that encumbers us. We are setting real stumbling blocks and gospel-foolishness before ears that need to hear and hearts that need to be won. Let’s not muddy the waters with political affiliations. They don’t matter.
The gospel does.