This is an honest question. I grew up in a White Christian home in Texas. We could not understand how anyone could call themselves a Christian and vote Democrat.
My friend Thomas McKnight grew up in a Black Christian home in North Carolina. His family would often wonder how anyone could say they were Christian and vote for a Republican.
So, in the interest of education and understanding, Thomas and I got together to try to answer these questions.
He and I are both still followers of Christ, but we’ve also both moved beyond our partisan political framework. Over the years, we’ve both found understanding about why those on the “other side” vote the way they do.
If you’re curious, here’s what Thomas and I realized during our conversation:
Democrat Christians care about peacemaking, the poor, immigrants, and the oppressed in our society. To them, this is what it means to be a Christian. So, they vote for Democrat candidates who at least “seem” to care about poverty, war, immigration, civil rights, and the average joe on the street.
Republican Christians tend to care about the unborn, the traditional family, and the right to bear arms. Therefore, they vote for Republican candidates who at least “say” they care about overturning abortion laws, defending traditional definitions of marriage [anti-gay marriage, etc.], and protecting the Second Amendment.
Both sides firmly believe that to vote any other way is “un-Christian”, but only because they have both developed and accepted a very narrow definition of issues that are “Christian” issues and conveniently ignore those other issues.
Please understand: Both sides do this. Both sides selectively choose to elevate a handful of issues and deem those “Christian” issues, while ignoring or downplaying the importance of those other issues.
Republican Christians tend to care about stopping abortion. They are not in favor of gay rights or gay marriage. They are fearful of losing their right to own a firearm. These are the main issues for them and almost nothing else matters.
Democrat Christians tend to care about defending the rights of the poor, protecting innocent people from being bombed in other countries by our military-industrial complex, defending the rights of immigrants who come to America seeking asylum, releasing children from cages in detention centers, and allowing everyone the freedom to marry, or to worship [or not to worship] as they please.
Now, my goal is not to demonstrate which side is “Christian” or not. Both sides are doing their best to reflect what they believe are Christian values when it comes to politics and how they vote.
What I do hope to accomplish is this: To help us understand one another and stop demonizing those who do not think like us – especially when those “other people” are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Paul the Apostle in the book of 1 Corinthians refused to allow the believers in Corinth to divide over which Apostle was their favorite. How in the world can we justify dividing the Body of Christ over which politician or political party we prefer?
May it not be so among you.
We are all “one in Christ Jesus” according to the New Testament. So, our unity is in Christ. That is where we need to start. If our political differences divide us, then it is better to cut off our politics than to cut ourselves off from our own brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Is Christ divided?”
No, Christ is not – or should not – be divided.
Certainly not over differences of opinion when it comes to politics.
If you’ve got some time, I encourage you to watch this beautiful conversation between myself and my friend Thomas McKnight on this important issue.
Whatever you do – however you vote – please do not separate yourself from the rest of the Body of Christ. We need to continue to love another and to maintain fellowship and connection with one another if we really hope to advance the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom in our world today.
Please, do not allow yourself to become more American than Christian; more Republican than Christian; more Democrat than Christian.
Following Jesus is our first priority. Dividing ourselves from our own Spiritual Family is not something Jesus would do.
Let’s instead take some time to listen to one another. Even if we don’t always agree, it might help us to at least understand.
And that’s a wonderful first step towards unity, acceptance, and love.
For more on this topic, I would like to recommend my book “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” which explores our political divisions and explains historically how the Christian Church became so divided and entangled in Empire; and more importantly, how we can escape this trap and discover our oneness in Christ.
Keith Giles and his wife, Wendy, work with Peace Catalyst International to help build relationships between Christians and Muslims in El Paso, TX. Keith was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church over a decade ago to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today he is the author of the best-selling “Jesus Un” series of books, including “Jesus Unexpected: Ending The End Times To Become The Second Coming” which is available now on Amazon.