In every issue we discuss, every topic we debate, and every politician we vote for, it is important to remember that Christ’s mission was not a political mission, nor a social one. His mission was to redeem a people for the expansion of His kingdom and the glory of His name.
This neither invalidates the importance of social change, nor does it dismiss the Christian from responsible citizenship. Rather, this should make us turn our eyes to Christ and His pursuit, and submit our political agendas to that end.
A number distinctions and discernments should be made to align ourselves with Gospel-centered social reform and political agendas.
Church – Christian Distinction
As tempting as it is, the Church as an institution and collective group and the Christian as an individual must be separated in the way they operate. Because of the nature of the Church, being that it is an institution, the image it holds in partisan politics must be vastly different than an individual’s stance.
Each individual Christian is called to be an active citizen, fighting for both Gospel-Change and Social-Justice, permissible even in the realm of political party involvement and candidate advocacy. However, the Church must be much more careful in not involving itself in parties, because of the Gospel-mandates that oppose stances of both parties.
Though the Church, and therefore the teaching pastor(s), have a responsibility to steer clear of political parties, they do have the responsibility of effecting social reform through single-issues that are explicit or strongly implicit in Scripture
Partisan Politics and Straight Voting v. Single-Issues and Informed Voting
How an individual follower deals with their own voting and advocation is important as well. Varying levels of involvement and political awareness can either tarnish or edify an individual’s reputation, and therefore the image of Christ.
“Straight ticket” voting is a dangerous thing for two reasons: it assumes that one party meets all the qualifications of Gospel-centered reform, and it assumes that each individual politicians aligns themselves with this platform.
Single-issue voting based upon thorough research lends the believer to a much more informed decision. The reality is—some issues are more important than others. The right to life is much more important than import taxing. Racial justice and civil rights are much more important than house-seat distribution. There is a hierarchy to what we are called to reform in Gospel-centeredness.
Whether you identify as a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green Party member, Libertarian, or Constitutionalist, I can guarantee that your party platform contains both Christ-like and uncompassionate, self-centered views.
There are very important issues that the Christian has a responsibility to uphold, and both of the major parties fail on some part to attain Gospel-centered values. For example, the sanctity of human life, from conception to death, opposes huge policies of not just the Democratic party, but of many political parties and movements throughout history (i.e. The Nationalist Socialist Party of Germany and The Lord’s Resistance Army).
Also, the idea of racial justice and equality oppose not just pre-Civil War American policy, the Nazi party and the Republican party in the 1960’s, but also a number of today’s “conservatives” that are predominately white and oblivious to racial unrest.
No matter our party affiliation or cultural background, the Christian is called to seek and act upon Gospel-centered compassion, mercy, justice, and righteousness reform not just in the constituent and the candidate, but in the community and the nation.
“Christians and American Politics” by John Piper
“Interview with Matt Chandler – Politics” excerpt from The Blaze interview
“Church and Politics” by John Piper
“Should Pastors Talk Politics From The Pulpit?” by Russell D. Moore