Politics can be ugly business. And there are things that happen (on both sides of the aisle) that are unfortunate and disturbing. But, unfortunately, the standard evangelical reaction to such a reality is to declare that no political party is better than any other. It doesn’t matter how you vote as a Christian, we are told.
During last year’s election, I challenged this notion in a post entitled Postmodernity and Politics. A few excerpts:
Even if both parties are flawed to some degree, the real question still remains, namely which political party is the closest to the principles and ethics laid out in Scripture? After all, at the end of the day, the Christian still has to go to the polls and vote for someone. And surely he wants to vote for the party that is closest to the teachings of Scripture.
I think the claim that both parties are equally flawed is highly problematic when one considers that Democrats and Republicans have near opposite political platforms on almost every major issue. Is it really likely that there would be two parties with nearly opposite values and ethical positions and, at the same time, neither would be closer to the teachings of Scripture? I suppose it is possible. But, is also very unlikely.
One wonders how the “Jesus is neither a Democrat nor Republican” approach would have worked for Dietrich Bonhoeffer as he navigated the frightening political landscape of Germany in the 1930’s or 1940’s. Would he have been compelled by the idea that the Scripture was neutral about whether Christians should vote for Hitler’s socialist party? The sad truth is that many Christians and many churches in that day went along with Hitler’s politics and offered no protest. Bonhoeffer disagreed and argued that it was the Christian’s duty to oppose the National Socialist party. I doubt Bonhoeffer would have been persuaded by the argument that “good Christians are on both sides of this issue.”
In light of the sad events of the last week, I am hopeful that this “all political parties are the same” misconception can be put to rest once and for all. In both the SCOTUS decision in support of homosexual marriage, and in the abortion debate in Texas, there was loud cheering on the one side and deep sadness on the other. It’s hard to imagine a deeper divide.
Indeed, when one looks back over the last period of time and asks which political party has been the one promoting, endorsing, and encouraging two of the most serious anti-Christian positions—abortion and homosexual marriage—the answer is not hard to find.
And these are not minor issues. One has resulted in millions upon millions of lost lives. And the other has redefined one of the most central and enduring institutions in human civilization.
Evangelicals have some serious soul searching to do when it comes to how we vote. The recent 5-4 split on the Supreme Court, and Obama’s endorsement of the majority decision, shows that all political parties are not the same.
I wonder what Bonhoeffer would say if he were living in America today. Would he say, “It doesn’t matter which party Christians vote for”? After this week’s events, I doubt it.