Monday I did something I swore I would never do: I quit my party. Not a birthday party or some social function. I don’t really host those in the first place (and typically decline invitations to those of others). No, Monday I mailed my paperwork to change my voter registration. As a result, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person on either side of my family to not be a registered member of the Republican Party. (I guess I’m just the malcontent. The rogue.)
I’m now independent, unaffiliated with either of America’s two major political parties — or with any of the minor ones, for that matter. It means I can’t vote in party primaries, and the switch cost me some major political capital in other ways given the current state of things. My former party controls every level of my government, local, state, and federal, so I’ve just abandoned those who make the rules, so to speak. Much like my (former) fellow GOP-ers, I at one time celebrated that we had, at long last, taken back control. I waited in anxious anticipation for the conservatives to set in motion things many of us — and many Christians of all stripes — had awaited for years. And they did. Republicans in Kentucky advanced thrillingly pro-life legislation. They ended mandatory union dues. The national legislature began hammering out how to protect religious liberties, and the president nominated a worthy heir of Justice Scalia to the Supreme Court.
Then things turned ugly.
And I’m not talking about just in the capitals, either. People on the ground outside of D.C. and Frankfort, private citizens without any political office whatsoever, began spewing some of the most hateful, vitriolic, anti-Christ rhetoric I’ve heard in a decade — and practically all of it in the name of Jesus. At first I was shocked and appalled. Then I became angry. Now I’m just sad — and more than a little curious. Did Constantine do this to my brothers and sisters? By legalizing my faith, by declaring Christianity the religion of the Empire, did he consign us to hatred in the name of politics?
Historically Christianity and political clout haven’t mixed well. Don’t get me wrong; if you know me at all and/or read the rest of this blog, you know I’m an amateur political theologian who would use political means to safeguard biblical truths. But the simple fact of the matter is Christians can be some of the world’s worst bullies while in office — or out of it when talking about politics. We tend to push for theocracy and mock or damn anyone who would stand in our way. Sometimes we kill them (Servetus and the Inquisition, anyone?). It’s just not right. But we do it anyway.
Usually we do it because of two concomitant errors. First we elevate portions of the Bible over others, demonizing those who disagree with our rankings in the process. Second we place allegiance to our politics/party/country above the demands of the portions of Scripture we ranked lowest. Both parties do this, which is why I went independent instead of simply becoming a Democrat. But consider the following before you tell me I’m wrong about that.
1. Abortion terminates innocent human life and is therefore morally wrong.
2. The Bible consistently emphasizes the moral duty owed to immigrants and refugees.
3. Christians are called to be selfless and put God first, not America first.
4. The Bible condemns same-sex relationships.
5. Jesus never asked the sick for a co-pay or the 5,000 for a drug test.
6. They will know us by our love, not our patriotism; our caring service, not our party platform.
7. God is a jealous God, and you shall have no other gods before Him.
8. The worship of or primary allegiance to something other than God is called idolatry, and idolatry is sinful.
9. Every human being is made in the image of God.
10. God loves everyone equally.
Now, with these ten biblical truths in mind, let’s examine party platforms.
The Republicans score points for being anti-abortion and pro-traditional marriage, but lose points for being increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic, putting self and country above the widow and orphan. They also lose points for putting frankly sinful profit margins ahead of providing access to health care and pharmaceuticals.
The Democrats earn points for Care of the Other, including policies on health care and immigration. They lose points, though, for promoting the murder of the unborn and advocacy for alternative sexualities/non-binary genders. They also lose points for a sort of forced atheism in most policy-making, a theocracy of a different sort.
So tell me: how do you weigh the two on even a handful of policies? Is letting a refugee die because of fear better or worse than paying for abortifacients? Whose life is worth more? Is the shameless promotion of big business in the name of ideology (i.e. capitalism) while letting the poor die of treatable diseases better or worse than attempting to normalize once unthinkable and still evil sexual relationships? Should we ban prayer in schools or the teaching of scientific fact? Who must go: God or Darwin (because it’s evident no one will fight for both)? Both parties are steeped in pervasive systemic sin. So which sin is worse?
Listening to their followers, the Other Guy is always the enemy, the most immoral. Republicans call Democrats heathens, “snowflakes,” traitors, and generally un-Christian — all while saying Jesus would of course build a border wall because even heaven has a gate. Democrats call Republicans uneducated, anti-science, bigoted, and racist — all while saying God is love and therefore loves sinful expressions of sexuality because it’s all about love. Both believe God is on their side exclusively. Both believe God votes their party line.
Both are terribly, horrifically wrong.
The eternal God of the universe existed infinitely before the foundation of either political party, and He will exist infinitely after both cease to exist. He supports biblical causes, no matter which party — if any — claims those causes as its own. He does not blindly support the United States in everything it does anymore than He always affirms the party line. All are composed of sinful, imperfect men and women trying to serve a perfect God. No party can claim Jesus as its mascot. No party can categorically claim every member of the opposition is going to hell. And the Risen Christ will never, ever carry a flag other than his own, the standard of the kingdom of heaven.
Stop believing the lie God is always the conservative. Stop believing He is always the liberal. God is God, and He will support the righteous and oppose the unrighteous, all while loving both. He cheers for what is right and condemns what is wrong, no matter the party, nation, or person. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar.
And that’s why I’m no longer a Republican.