Don’t Bundle Your Faith

It is an election year. Once again, I am concerned that Christianity has been woven so tightly with conservative politics and candidates that faith in Jesus has become, by definition, evidence of political partisanship. 

Not so. Moreover, I want to make it clear to anyone that is interested that I do not want such a thing to be assumed in my case. My opinions about candidates and causes are strictly “ala carte.” I may bundle my insurance, but I don’t bundle my faith, nor my views on the social trajectory of the western world. If I had to identify a political persuasion, I suppose I would have to declare myself “independent.” I did not vote for Donald Trump and I cannot imagine a time when I would. For that matter, I didn’t vote for Joe Biden.  As Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird said, “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience…Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.”

For more than eight years I have tried to avoid straining relationships with Christian friends by dodging discussion about conservative evangelical causes.  Fancy footwork and deftly changing the subject take a lot out of you. I don’t have the energy to fly beneath the radar this time around. Moreover, I wonder if there are others who might welcome a break in the silence and be emboldened to express their own misgivings? Perhaps I am not the only one who is worried that evangelicals are sailing near treacherous shores.

I am willing to risk rejection by my brothers and sisters in the faith because I am confident that there will be a time when we will find ourselves together in the coming Kingdom. Under those circumstances none of this will matter. It is inconceivable that anyone in the presence the King of kings will lean toward their neighbor and ask them who they voted for in the 2024 election.  It is on the basis of that future unity that I risk being rejected today. Rejection today will eventually lose its significance.

On the other hand, there are those outside the Evangelical camp who might reject me because they suppose my faith is proof that I wholeheartedly approve of the politics of the religious right. What concerns me more, though, is that people may reject the object of my devotion, namely Jesus, based on the mistaken idea that there is a positive link between Jesus and partisan dogma. More than a few have dismissed the Lord thinking that to follow him would automatically require the endorsement of both conservative politics and our former president. I don’t want to risk that misunderstanding.

I want to be sure that people do not reject Christianity based on the erroneous assumption that conservative candidates and causes come bundled with faith in Christ. I want to stand for the simplicity of Christ while making it clear that I reject the political sword rattling that characterizes so much discourse in these times. The dissonance in my soul makes it necessary, I think, to declare my devotion to Jesus, the Messiah, while categorically excluding all of the other issues that people may assume are corollaries to faith.

That is why I am posting this piece. 

Having swept political assumptions aside, I would hope that the curious skeptic might take another look at Jesus of Nazareth.* There are many reasons that people reject Christ, but his supposed political bedfellows ought not be one of them. As C.S. Lewis wrote: “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.” And I would add, you must not reject him because of anyone’s politics. 

* To begin a fresh exploration of  Jesus and his message (what is called “the gospel”). I recommend the streaming series, The Chosen, as a good starting point.