On Monday, July 18th, Pastor Mark Burns of South Carolina took the stage at the 2016 Republican National Convention to give the benediction. However, instead of simply giving thanks to God and praying over the convention, it quickly became politicized. “We are electing a man in Donald Trump who believes in the name of Jesus Christ,” he roared. “Republicans, we have got to be united, because our enemy is not of the Republicans, but is of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.”
Pastor Burns’ politicized benediction brings back into light the stereotype that the Republican Party is the ‘Christian’ party. Many Americans equate being a patriotic Republican with being a Christian. However, is this stereotype of the Republican Party being the party of God accurate? I say absolutely not, and I have many reasons for my stance.
Political Parties Can’t Come to Christ
First of all, let’s define what Christianity is. You are a Christian if you have a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ who died on a rugged cross for your sin. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (NIV)
The very definition of what it means to be a Christian automatically breaks the stereotype of the Grand Old Party being the ‘Christian’ party. Christianity is based around the grace of God and personal salvation, not being patriotic, registered to a certain party, or your church attendance. Only souls can be saved; political parties cannot be. You can’t have a ‘Christian’ party.
Christians misusing the Church for political gain, misusing politics for conversion.
Secondly, refusal to separate our politics from our salvation through Jesus Christ can become a problem. Now understand, I’m not advocating for Christians to stop acting like Christ in the polls; you SHOULD vote your conscience, have a biblical view of social and moral issues, and work to glorify God through the civic rights given to you as an American. You are to glorify God through whatever you do, and that includes who you vote for and what you support.
However, I have seen so many Christian leaders use their positions to get their own political agendas through. I have seen too many Christians stop acting like Christ in order to bash their political opponents. I have seen too many people advocate for an American theocracy of sorts. I have seen too many Christians stop advocating for freedom of religion, which as Christians, we should be all for; it’s an American right, and it’s an amazing way to explain to somebody who isn’t a Christian that following Jesus is not something we’re coerced to do, but a choice we have to make wholeheartedly and for ourselves.
We need to realize that in the United States, we legislate off of the Moral Law, not the Bible. The Moral Law is based around biblical principles (after all, it is our Creator who instills it in the very souls of man), but it is not the same thing as the Bible. It is wrong to use a political party in order to try and convert the nation; political parties are for governance, individual Christians and churches are the ones to go and make disciples. It is also wrong to use the Church as a platform to push for a certain political party; Jesus is nonpartisan. Individual Christians can certainly advocate for certain political principles and encourage others to do the same, but the Church should be focused on reaching lost people, making disciples, and teaching followers of Jesus to imitate him in day-to-day life (which, will automatically flow over into politics as well).
Demonizing people who are loved by Christ.
Finally, we must address the heart behind Pastor Burns saying that our enemies are the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. This kind of attitude creates an us-against-them mentality within the Church, which is WRONG. Our goal as Christians is for all men and women to come to know the truth of Jesus Christ and to be saved; this doesn’t just apply to those on one side of the aisle. I am a hardcore conservative, and I would LOVE it if Hillary Clinton came to know Jesus as her personal savior-it would be an amazing transformation to watch.
Politics are important, but they don’t have the eternal worth that human souls carry. We can disagree with someone politically all day long, but we need to remember that they are still a person that Jesus Christ loves and died for. Fight against principles, not people. Do so with a spine, but in truth and love.
In conclusion, the GOP isn’t a Christian party-there’s no such thing. You can have genuine Christians on both sides of the aisle, conservatives and liberals alike. Political parties can’t be saved-only the souls of people can be. As Christians, fight against principles and FOR people.
Your enemy is Satan, not a Democrat (or a Republican if you are already on the left); people who disagree with you politically are people you converse with and try to win over, not hate and demonize.
Although I believe conservatism is the political stance that is the most moral and brings the most glory to God (which is a separate post in itself), remember that your vote and your politics are ultimately like everything else you do; something else that can bring glory to your Creator.