Jesus wasn’t an American. He’s not a Democrat. He’s not a Republican. He’s not asking you to vote for a “pro-family agenda.” He’s also not calling you to elect politicians to achieve “social justice.” These things are news to some people.
There’s absolutely no reason to think God even wants you to vote. You’re lying to yourself and to others if you superimpose your own political views onto God — no matter what your beliefs are.
It’s been common throughout history for nations to claim that God was on their side, regardless of what they called God and regardless of what the rest of their theological beliefs were. Whatever “our side” did was favored by God — or the gods or Allah 0r whatever they called their deity. If you’re a Christian and you’re doing this today, you’re engaging in blasphemy, because you’re claiming to speak for God — and you’re just making things up and claiming they’re from Him.
I don’t have the exact quote anymore, but I once heard talk radio host Ian Punnett say that for many people, God is simply themselves with a deeper voice. Sadly, that’s true.
For Christians who hold conservative political positions, they somehow manage to come to the conclusion that God believes exactly what they do. What a relief. God wants a strong government to control people’s morality, but He also likes invading foreign countries that have those dirty people who talk funny and aren’t much like us. (He obviously didn’t really mean those things about loving enemies, so it’s safe to ignore those things as we cheer people being blown up and prisoners being tortured by the U.S. government.)
For Christians who hold progressive left positions, they somehow manage to come to the conclusion that God also believes exactly what they believe. Who would have thought? This saves them the trouble of having to think about any conflicts between their own political goals and what God wants of them. God wants a strong government which takes things from “greedy people” and gives things to poor people. Jesus talked about helping poor people, so He obviously wants us to force other people to obey what He said. Right?
When you worship God in these ways — and define Jesus in these terms — you’re creating your own god. Whoever that is who you have in your mind isn’t the Jesus of the Gospels. He’s your own creation — and that god seems an awful lot like you — just with a deeper voice.
If you call yourself a conservative, I challenge you to find a single example in the Gospels in which Jesus suggested the use of force to get anyone to obey Him. (Hint: You won’t find such an example.) Jesus isn’t calling for the FCC to stamp out obscenity or for police to arrest gay people or use force to stop people from making porn. Those are your positions, not His.
If you call yourself a progressive, I challenge you to find a single example in which Jesus suggested that His followers use force to ensure that other people obeyed the commands He gave to His own followers. (Hint: You won’t find any.) Jesus doesn’t “love the public option” or favor universal health care or whatever else you want to superimpose on Him. Those are your positions, not His.
You do understand that government is simply force, don’t you? Without force, the coercive state couldn’t function, because it would have to depend on people’s voluntary co-operation. And if people are to be allowed to do what they want (so long as they don’t violate other people’s rights or property), well, the state isn’t necessary in the first place.
If you’re a Christian, God has called you to live in certain ways and be certain things. He’s called us to help the poor and to quit worshipping our own pampered and luxurious lifestyles. God has called us to be holy and moral people. But you won’t find one single example of Jesus suggesting that a government enforce the commands that He gave to His own followers. No, that’s the part that you and your friends (and your enemies) have added all on your own.
A friend told me this week that his own pastor recently said during a sermon that people who don’t vote are “almost sinning.” This pastor believes that not voting is somehow a violation of the command to love our neighbor. In other words, we are supposed to show we love some of our neighbors by having people use violence (or threat of violence and punishment) to arbitrarily steal money from other neighbors. That’s not following God. That’s simply finding ways to pretend that God supports what you wanted to do anyway.
God calls Christians to do certain things with their lives. He never calls us to force other people to obey His commands. If you’re using the name of God to justify using the coercive state to achieve what you want, you’re not serving God. You’re falsely speaking in His name and adding things to the Bible that just aren’t there.
Stick to what Jesus actually said. We have a long way to go before we’re living as He called us to live. Even if it were legitimate to force other people to live in accordance with Jesus’ teachings — which it isn’t — don’t we have a responsibility to live it first? We’re a long way from obeying Him ourselves.
Let’s quit trying to pretend that we’re qualified to give people orders in God’s name. We’re not qualified to do that and we never will be.