BreakPoint: Let’s Talk about Christians and Politics

An Election Year D.T.R.

Like it or not, it’s another election year. Which means it’s time for Christians to think clearly about political engagement.

Fellow Christian, it’s time for a “DTR” with politics. Christian college alums like me will know what that means. “DTR” stands for “define the relationship.” It’s that talk a young man and a young woman must have to clarify one another’s romantic intentions. Every Christian college in America has a “DTR spot,” a designated place for these important talks: the chapel, the quad, the gazebo, or the lake.

Well, when it comes to politics, the Church is long overdue for a DTR.

Debates are raging about how we, as Christians, should relate to politics and government. Some have called for a hiatus, for Christians to step away from politics, to refocus on the Kingdom of God, and to work on our damaged reputation. Others have called for a heightened national allegiance in Jesus name, especially to our current leadership, with some even proclaiming that to question our leadership is to question God Himself.

Well, neither of these are appropriate responses for Christ-followers.

There’s no question that the last presidential election has made this DTR all the more necessary, and all the more complicated. Self-identified evangelicals are constantly told how hypocritical they’ve been for voting for and now continuing to support Donald Trump, given his moral failings.

On the other hand, the Democratic Party, particularly the previous administration, has made abortion, the advancement and expansion of new sexual ideologies, and the compromising of conscience rights, its top policy priorities.

Given where we’d be had the other candidate been elected, it’s important to note that Trump has kept key campaign promises to Christians, such as rolling back outrageous Obama-era policies that threatened religious liberty and placing a staunchly pro-life justice on the Supreme Court.

And yet, accusations of past immorality, and, shall we say a “Twitter problem,” have plagued this President, not to mention that yet another Republican Congress has failed to provide a budget that defunds Planned Parenthood—something the GOP has pledged to do for years.

So we’re back to the tough question: What should our relationship with politics be, as Christians?

Let’s begin with this: to expect a government or a political party to fix problems that are non-political at root is indeed a form of idolatry. The most pressing cultural issues we face as a nation are cultural, upstream of politics. And yet, policies will either contribute to, or counter, our cultural confusions. So politics matters. Still. A lot. We must stay engaged.

And in doing so, here are three things worthy of our attention.

I’ve just mentioned the first: policies. If we are to love our neighbors as Christ commanded, we should care deeply about policies that impact their lives.

Another is character. It matters. Still. A lot. And it matters on “our” side as well as “their” side. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. It’s perfectly consistent to be critical of moral failings, while applauding decisions and policies. It may even be necessary at times to thank a candidate or officeholder for some good work, and still call on him or her to step aside to make way for someone with less baggage.

A final consideration is company. Every candidate comes with a team, and that’s especially relevant when we’re talking about the 2000 or so folks that come along with highest office in the land. We’d never vote for Nebuchadnezzar, but wouldn’t we be glad to have Daniel in an influential position? We have to evaluate a candidate’s company in our electoral decisions, urge our leaders to surround themselves with wise advisors, and warn, when necessary, of dangerous ones.

Heading into yet another election year, this “DTR” talk is long past due for all of us. But Christians can faithfully live out our dual citizenship, without moral compromise.


Let’s Talk about Christians and Politics: An Election Year D.T.R.

Policies, character, and company, as John points out, all matter when it comes to Christians engaging in the political process. So as the upcoming election season looms, do your research, and consider these three elements as you make decisions.

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  • Redeemer Broadcasting

    Well done.

  • James

    Policy is everything, and the man is nothing. It’d be stupid to vote for a “good” man who promises to do evil wicked stupid destructive things; who cares if a “bad” man gets into office who promises to do good things and actually does them? I’m surprised it took ME so long to figure this out, it seems so obvious.

    • FlaGirl

      Not quite sure how to interpret your comment. But I will say the issue most people have with Evangelicals is their hypocrisy. How can you stand against abortion and SSM and resoundly support a President who lies with reckless abandon? Lying is a sin. In fact, God says He HATES liars, and a liar would not tarry in His sight. (It is a shame that the author attempts to minimize Pres. Trump’s sins and fails to mention his constant lying.) We can also add to the list of this President’s sins – pride/arrogance, bearing false witness, and adultery. (In scripture, a haughty spirit and pride leads to a fall and destruction.) Didn’t Evangelicals tell us morals and character mattered when Clinton got a bj and lied about it? Now, none of that matters, so long as Pres. Trump pushes their agenda. If Evangelicals actually held true to their belief that they should vote theology first, then they could not have supported Romney (in 2012) nor Trump. They would have written in a 3rd party candidate. I’m soooo tired of the Evangelicals rhetoric. If you want to see a nation changed, then do what God called us to do: Love God, Love People, Preach the Gospel and Make Disciples. It works from the bottom up not top down.

  • Jordan Smith

    First of all, thank you for the good reminders that politics will not fix our nation(s), because, at the heart of it all, it is a sin problem that affects us, and not a policy problem,

    However, as a person who has lived overseas for most of my life, I have found the two party system in our country to be quite terrifying, especially in a moment of greater and greater partisan behavior (in government and in our communities).
    It is hard to cast a ballot when I constantly feel like I am forced to chose the lesser of two evils, to chose the candidate or party that I disagree the less with… And that is not how it should be.
    I wish that there were more real parties to chose from, so that if I vote red or blue, I am not wedded to their policies that I find distasteful to aberrant. I have found that I could not, in good conscience, vote for any candidate in the last Presidential, and I fear it will be the same for this round again…

  • Simon Jeynes

    Alas, I find it hard to align with the sentiments expressed here. First, I agree that we have to engage. We are in the world even if not of the world. We have a duty to speak out. Second, I agree that there are policies that we must be in favor of such as the rights of the unborn child and the right of the Christian conscience. But third, we must not align with either party since neither is Christian. We can be a member of either party, but we cannot support either as Christians – that is the difference between in and of. Fourth, as Christians we are Republican (sortof) in defense of the unborn AND Democrat (sortof) in defense of the widow, orphan, immigrant and oppressed. The list could go on almost indefinitely and include some other parties such as AND Green (sortof) in defense of God’s Creation. It is unnecessary to be for any party in order to be deeply political and speaking for God’s people.

    • Just One Voice

      Where did he say we have to align with one of the parties?

      I totally agree with you, but don’t see that statement made in the original (definitely could’ve breezed over it though.)

      Ugh, elections. I’m so sick of ’em. I like the third point about considering the candidate’s company. The analogy of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel is spot on!

  • The Bechtloff

    There is no reason for Christians not to engage. In large part due to Trump we have a momentum in the right we haven’t had in ages.
    As for Stonestreet once again talking about “Trump’s moral failings.” I have to roll my eyes. Trump is hardly perfect, but his biggest faults amount to saying naughty words sometimes and being a bit of a cad. Funny how Stonestreet, and many other Evangelical leaders absolutely fawned over W despite his extremely questionable past. Simply put too many in the church can’t seem to differentiate between manners and morality.
    Also in Trump’s defense I would point to his children. Despite being brought up in the limelight and in opulence they all seem accomplished and well adjusted. And when judging a man’s character, it’s good to take a look at the children he raised.

  • Jesus never stepped away from the zealots of his day. He spoke truth to power. And does so even now as He empowers believers thru His Spirt and His word. Onward Christian soldier!

  • gladys1071

    oh the siren song of political power. Interestingly enough Jesus did not seek political power. I remember Jesus saying “My kingdom is not of this world”

    • Scott

      “I remember Jesus saying ‘My kingdom is not of this world'”

      Yes! It is in John 18:36 as part of His response to Pilate when asked what He had done. Jesus says this right before He is sentenced to death. Ironic how His resurrection defies not only the man made laws (upheld by courts) but also the physical act of death itself.

      Jesus also says (in Matthew 6) “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” He wants us to pray that the Father’s will is done on earth? Perhaps He wants us to put that prayer into action?

      • gladys1071

        Christians trying to seek political power are just human beings trying to exert power over others, Jesus did not use his power to exert control over others.

        • Scott

          This is your idea, but it does not align with what Jesus says in Matthew 6.

          • gladys1071

            Jesus did not advocate Christians use political power or the might of the state to exert power over others, so you are wrong.

            Jesus came as a humble servant and he gave his life for sinful men, Jesus form of ruling is by NOT using his power, he subjected himself to be crucified by sinful men.

            I think you have a different Jesus in mind.

          • Scott

            You are right… but I think you misunderstand me. Jesus had many instructions for us. Not to seek power over others, but serve as He did.

            If Jesus was not afraid to say this:

            “And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

            Then as Christians, shouldn’t we follow Him by speaking against such things as well? Today our culture would label Jesus’s statement as dogmatic and political… is that somehow different than 2000 years ago? Was Jesus martyred for his words? Were his disciples martyred for defending his words?

          • gladys1071

            Again, political power will NOT change the heart of man or eliminate sin.

            Jesus was NOT dogmatic, he instructed us to love our neighbor and our enemies.

          • Scott

            No, but political policy shouldn’t promote sin either. That is why Christians should never stop bringing Christ with them… into all they do.

            Mark 7:20-23 (which I quoted above) is considered dogmatic by nonbelievers.

            Christ centered people should consider the wellbeing of every person no doubt, but when it comes to laws, not everyone can agree what is best. Since laws are based on moral assumptions, we are left with the question of whose morals do we base our laws?

          • gladys1071

            though i agree with you about promoting sin. The problem is we live in pluralistic society, and not everything that is sin is a crime. Example, adultery is a sin, but it is NOT illegal.

            Also not everyone is going to agree to the Christian view of sin and morality.

            All you can do is try to come to a consensus, but it will not be perfect when it comes to human beings.

          • Scott

            “Also not everyone is going to agree to the Christian view of sin and morality.

            All you can do is try to come to a consensus, but it will not be perfect when it comes to human beings.”

            What you say is true…

            The challenge is creating one set of laws that allow for more than one set of moral standards. We must do this knowing that conflicting moral standards by nature discriminate against each other. If our culture truly embraces the concept of “tolerance,” then our laws must accept and give space for conflicting viewpoints to go their separate ways. The Christian knows that God gives us free will, so we must “tolerate” the existence of those embracing their own view of morality… and yet if we listen to the words of Christ, we know that He spoke out against all forms of sin and taught only one set of moral laws. The difference between Christ and the policy makers then is He met sin with love… He didn’t use His authority with force, instead He left the door open for us to choose. A truly plural society might have laws that support such a scenario as: If two LGBT atheists wants to join in a legal union equivalent to what Christians call marriage, the law would accommodate them. If Christian photographers do not wish to attend (and photograph the ceremony) because Jesus says it is sinful, the law would accommodate them as well… allowing both sets of moral values their own space.

          • Jordan Smith

            I would have to disagree with that. While I do believe that God’s will can and is done through political power, historically, whenever the Church has tried to wield political power, we have made a mess of it.
            I believe God’s will will be done, but most like despite political power, not because of it.

          • Scott

            You’re right… I think gladys1071 and I misunderstood each other a bit. See my reply below. My point is all Christians should bring their faith (Christ) with them in everything they do.

            The misunderstanding was probably more mine. : – )

        • Just One Voice

          Please help me understand your point of view:

          First, is this an accurate statement of your overall thought process? Love everyone, NEVER calling out right or wrong, since that’s what Jesus did? (Certainly in your defense, 1 Corinthians 13:13 says faith, hope & love remain, but the greatest of these is love. Also Philippians 2:3 says “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

          Secondly, what do you think of our current VP Mike Pence? He is just human, yes. But is he, as you say, merely trying to exert power over others?

          Third & last (this kinda goes back to one of the other threads): should we, or should we not call out the wrongs done in cases like the recent Florida shooting? How about all the sexual perversion against women? Shall we be absolutely all-loving in those cases? Let them go free? No punishment whatsoever?

          Don’t get me wrong. Faith, hope & love remain, but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13) Still, how does someone like you reconcile love with right/wrong? How do you say Jesus is all warmth & love when there are cases like John 2:13-17 where he overturned tables in the temple? (He called out their wrongs & even made a whip of cords!) He also called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” & “hypocrites” on numerous occasions. It would seem he even condemned them to hell in Matthew 23:33 “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”

          Just clues to the puzzle.

          • gladys1071

            It is difficult to say the least. If someone breaks the law, their should be a punishment. Balancing love and punishing wrong doing is complicated and their are no simple pat answers to everything.

            Remember not everything that is a sin is a crime. Also you cannot regulate and control every single vice that human beings indulge in. The authorities are there to try to contain evil as best as possible, but it will be impossible to stop every evil act or control people.

            The United States is a country based on freedom NOT control. It used to be if you committed murder you were executed within days, now people to t prison, so it is more complicated. Since we live in a democracy of sorts, law and freedom is more complicated and not black/white.

            At the same time Jesus and Paul was talking about our own personal behavior. He admonished us to follow the law according to the society that we live in.

            You want a black/white answerS to the problem of the human condition of our falleness, their is NONE.

            Only until Jesus does away with sin, their will always be injustice, evil and inmorality.

            That is why my hope is when their is a new heaven/earth where their will be no more death, sin or tears, i await that day.

            I have learned as i get older that their are no easy answers to life’s problems and that ultimately God will have the final word on all things.

          • Just One Voice

            This is good, actually. Probably to your surprise, I don’t think you said anything I disagree with. Only small exceptions are that I may not be as young as you think. I’m 34, so, right behind you 🙂 And I believe there is a black/white answer to the problem of our sin: his name is Jesus Christ. Along with the new heaven & earth as you said. Just like you, I SO LOONNG for that day!

            A quick moment of honesty. I don’t know how you’re saying it, but I get pretty tired of the passive way that many people say, “you’re young, you’ll learn hopefully.” It’s just that I’ve met several young people who are pretty darn mature & wise for their age, as well as older folk who have never seemed to grow out of their childhood immaturity.

            You said I wouldn’t like it. But in fact, I don’t mind at all. I’ve known for a LONG time there are gray areas. Such as what you said, for instance, about sin vs. crime and God’s law vs. human law. (He did state pretty clearly in 1 Samuel 8 what the consequences would be of self-governance.)

            And about the Bible not having all the answers: again, totally agree, probably to your surprise. The Bible even implies, at least, that it doesn’t have all the answers. God says in Isiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Also see Isaiah 40:13-15, Job 38-40, and 1 Corinthians 2:11-13.

            Might I ask how many times you’ve read the whole Bible? I was 14 or 15 when I committed to reading it all the way through & making that a never-ending priority of my life. Again, it definitely doesn’t have every answer, but there’s a lot in there. Plenty enough to learn something new every time.

            I think I already know, but what about Mike Pence? Our country’s VP? I didn’t see an answer. Same question for people like Dr. Dobson. Very solid Christian people who are involved in politics. Are they merely trying to exert power over others?

          • gladys1071

            i have no issue with VP Pence, he has not done or said anything that i find to be out of line or illegal. He appears to keep his faith to himself for the most part.

            I don’t agree with Dr. Dobson and what he is doing in as far as politics, I think he needs to stick with “focusing on the family” NOT politics.

            I do have issues with Christians trying to use political power to try to legislate “family values, beliefs” i disagree with such tactics.

            I believe the Christian faith to be private and to be shared on a personal one on one basis with people.

            My definition of religious freedom is what you believe in your heart between you and God, not You and the government or politicians. I believe in talking about one’s faith in friendships /family members on a private basis and or in church, or if someone asks me, i will tell them.

            I think i agree with most of what you have said.

          • Scott

            “I believe the Christian faith to be private and to be shared on a personal one on one basis with people.”

            “I believe in talking about one’s faith in friendships /family members on a private basis and or in church, or if someone asks me, i will tell them.”

            You believe many things Jesus did not. Jesus spoke to thousands and he tells us to go and make disciples. He did not tell us to only share our faith when asked.

            Also you judge Dr. Dobson freely. Do you know his intension is to control others using political power? Why can’t a Christian be involved in politics? Atheists are and some do their best to force their ideology on those who disagree. Lets pump the brakes when it comes to judging others…

          • gladys1071

            Well i have refrained from voting for years because i refuse to force my ideology on others.


            This site is separate from the regular “focus on the family” and it is intended for political action on policies.

            I disagree with him doing that. I find using political power for your agenda as being coercive in nature.

            Whether or not i share my faith or not or how i share it is between me and God.

            Again you will look through history that political power and religion together is a recipe for disaster and more corruption.

          • Scott

            “I disagree with him doing that. I find using political power for your agenda as being coercive in nature.”

            Then all politicians are coercive no matter their ideology. What is so great about our country are the checks and balances… all voices have an opportunity to be heard and if differing viewpoints work together, common ground (or at least equal ground) can be achieved.

            “Whether or not i share my faith or not or how i share it is between me and God.”

            This point of view is just not Biblical… and Jesus says the opposite. Attempting to force our faith is one thing, but we are required by Jesus to share it with all.

            I think of our faith this way: If someone were drowning, would you dive in and save them? What if you did and when you pulled them out realized they were committing suicide and didn’t want to be saved? What if you knew this before you jumped in to save them… would you still jump in? 

How does all of that apply to eternal salvation?.. Shouldn’t we jump in and try to save? Some people just won’t believe and that is not for us to decide. But I for one do not want anyone to suffer what Jesus says will happen to unbelievers. God doesn’t either. So I will do as Jesus says and offer His words to everyone, and pray that some will listen. I will certainly respect their right to refuse though.

            “Again you will look through history that political power and religion together is a recipe for disaster and more corruption.”

            This is true because the people guilty of it were not acting according to our Christian faith. In our system of government there is a place for people of all faiths… including atheists (their ideology is based on faith as well). We also would do well to remember that the most horrific historical examples of political power resulting in disaster and death were carried out by anti-religious leaders.

          • gladys1071

            We will just have to agree to disagree about this.

            I just don’t share the belief that people only have this life to accept salvation. I am a universal inclusivst, so i believe that God’s mercy and grace extends to people even after death.

            I just don’t believe in anyone being eternally damned forever and being separated from God forever .

            You can disagree with me on that, that is fine, that is what i believe.

          • Scott

            Fair enough… you certainly are entitled to your beliefs. But that is not a Christian belief, which means you do not believe Jesus is who He said He was.

          • gladys1071

            That is not true, i do believe Jesus as the son of God. If you read church history especially the early church, many church fathers like Origin, Gregory of Nyssa believed in ALL being saved. It was ONE of the views of the afterlife, along with eternal damnation and purgatory. Their is NOT just one view of the afterlife and salvation.

            Believing that Jesus is fully God and fully man and died on the cross for our sins, is a basic Christian belief that is ALL that is necessary for me to believe to be a Christian.

          • Scott

            “That is not true, i do believe Jesus as the son of God. If you read church history especially the early church, many church fathers like Origin, Gregory of Nyssa believed in ALL being saved. It was ONE of the views of the afterlife, along with eternal damnation and purgatory. Their is NOT just one view of the afterlife and salvation.”

            I have read about Gregory of Nyssa and the idea of universalism. Unfortunately this idea is a human construct and does not hold up to Christ’s teachings (or logical thought for that matter). If the Bible is the word of God (“God breathed”) then we understand God is using scripture to communicate to us on a level that we can understand. If universalism wasn’t heresy, we would have to ignore parables like the Narrow Door, just about all of Revelation and quite a few other passages in the New Testament… many of them Jesus’s own words. Here are just a couple examples:

            “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 7:21

            “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.'” -Mark 16:15-16

            “Believing that Jesus is fully God and fully man and died on the cross for our sins, is a basic Christian belief that is ALL that is necessary for me to believe to be a Christian.”

            Don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what you (or I) believe is necessary or not. We have to look at what Jesus says is necessary. If we don’t, we deny his authority and end up inventing our own God. Jesus didn’t come to us and suffer death so that we could continue sinning, nor did He come to change God’s moral law. When he said to Judas at the last supper “but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!” He was telling Judas of his fate… whether Judas believed it or not. Later in Matthew, at the moment Jesus is betrayed, He says to his betrayer “Friend, do what you came to do.” By calling him friend He is showing His never ending compassion… but this did not contradict or change what Jesus previously said was going to happen to Judas. Jesus knew that Judas never really accepted Him in his heart.

          • Scott

            The Bible may not have all the answers… and yet I wonder. Is it that we can’t understand it completely?.. God actually says that we are not capable of understanding Him… He said His ways are higher. If God created the universe, then it stands to reason that the Bible would be under His control as well. Just because you (or I) don’t fully understand it, doesn’t mean it is lacking. Perhaps we are the ones lacking? It is folly to think otherwise.

            “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” – Matthew 19:26

          • gladys1071

            I think it is a combination of all of the things you said. We are finite human beings, God is eternal and outside of time, we cannot possible grasp his greatness and all of his ways.

            The bible cannot contain God, he transcends any book or philosophy.

          • Scott

            The Bible isn’t meant to contain God… He is giving us a glimpse of who He is. It is actually meant to tell our story and it clearly contains messages from God to us… While it is true that we cannot grasp God’s ways, we would do well to follow His instructions… and the Bible is where those instructions are.

          • gladys1071

            i also want to add another thing, you are not going to like it. The bible does NOT have all of the answers to the mysteries of life. Since we only see thru a mirror darkly, we can assume that we do NOT know everything about God and his ways.

            Their is still of mystery to God and this life still that nobody has ALL the answers to. You are young, i used to be like you wanted black/white answers to everything, I used to think the bible answered all of my questions, it DOES not.

            I have been a Christian since i was 15 years old, I am 40 years old, your faith evolves over time and as you experience life and grow older, you will find easy pat black/white answers do NOT address the complexity of life.

            My relationship with God is different now, i embrace the mystery and the unknowns, and sometimes my answer to some thing is ” I don’t know”, and i seek God about it.

            Believe me your belief system will change thru time, i never thought mine would, but it did, it is a gradual thing.

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