Tim Keller – Christians Don’t Fit in the Current Political Party Structure

More than maybe any other group in America, Christians face an impossible choice when it comes to political decisions.

Neither Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, embody all the values and promote the issues that most represent a biblical worldview. Aside from that, corruption and the zero-sum-game of power and control motivates both sides of the political spectrum. That is a game Christians should be determined not to play.

But American politics is becoming an ever-increasing binary game. Left or right. Red or blue. You have to pick a side.

I’ve written on this issue before.

And Pastor Tim Keller joined in the conversation with his recent op-ed in The New York Times, which you can read here.

The way our political system is structured makes it difficult to support issues “a la carte.” As Keller puts it:

“This emphasis on package deals puts pressure on Christians in politics. For example, following both the Bible and the easy church, Christians should be committed to racial justice and the poor, but also the understanding that sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family. … The historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.”

This is the same challenge that I addressed in that previous post. Christians, above all others, should be independent from identifying and blindly following any group or institution, particularly a political party. Politics are about power. Christianity is about giving up power to focus on service and love and grace to others.

Blindly pursuing power through politics is a destructive agenda for Christians, as it pulls us away from our true aims while also damaging our global witness. We should be engaged in the political process and work to solve big problems, but that will require independence rather than party allegiance.

Keller continued in his article:

“So Christians are pushed toward two main options. One is to withdraw and try to be apolitical. The second is to assimilate and fully adopt one party’s whole package in order to have your place at the table. Neither of these options is valid.”

And although it’s hard to expect those on opposite ends of the political spectrum to work together and be civil in today’s political climate, Christians are called to a higher standard. That’s especially true in dealing with other Christians.

There are committed, devoted, authentic believers on all sides of the ideological spectrum. No matter where we fall on that spectrum, we are called to unity with one another. Keller puts it this way:

“Thoughtful Christians, all trying to obey God’s call, [can] reasonably appear at different places on the political spectrum, with loyalties to different political strategies.”

The point? If you call yourself a Christian, do everything you can to separate any attachments you have to a particular political party and judge each issue through the eyes of Christ. If that means you tend to fall on one side of the aisle more than the other, that’s fine. But start at the point of analysis and seeking unity rather than making up your mind based on ideology.


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