This guest post is by John Deangelo of antiwarwarvet.com
Biblical tradition has a way of hunting down and haunting the worst inclinations of people. The prophets were bold enough to do this in real-time. Regardless of the character, biblical prophets gave necessary, albeit challenging, direction to God’s people. Hosea, for example, went to such lengths to demonstrate God’s displeasure with Israel that he married a prostitute, “for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” He then named their subsequent children for God’s anger – “I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel,” “No Mercy,” and “Not my People.” Hosea goes on to conduct divorce proceedings with Israel on behalf of God, speaking to their idolatry, insolence, and deference to kings in place of the Lord, before God offers forgiveness for repentance.
Now, I’m no prophet. I don’t claim to have a word from God burning within me to reconcile His people to Him. What I do have, like the prophets of old, is a hard word for American Christians. For too long, the Church – the body of Christ – has clung to ‘Ol’ Glory’ and the tenets of particular political parties instead of Christ Himself. I find myself included in this group more often than I care to admit.
In a political climate where ripping paper and shirking handshakes are business as usual, divisiveness and persuasion-polarization are nearing a fever pitch. That’s not to say this is the worst these United States have seen; we killed half a million of each other in a so-called “civil” war, we shot fire hoses and sent dogs on protestors for equity, we’ve survived the Great Depression and the Great Recession, 9/11, and the wars of Communist Containment and the Global War on Terror.
Today, though, the discourse has shifted. We aren’t arguing ideologies; we’re battling neighbor against neighbor over practically anything. These aren’t ethereal principles being advanced squarely in the political arena; this is the Colosseum with a line in the sand. We want ever-more extravagant theatrics in place of debate, and we’re all told to pick a side. This is progressivism in contemporary terms. Every facet of life is political because every facet of life is due for examination with a federal lens. It is our duty as Christians to not only resist this basest urge but to divorce ourselves completely from it.
Based on the latest Pew data, American Evangelicals and Mormons have an empirically Republican bent, while historically black Protestant churches are reliably Democrat supporters. Both camps of political Christians have been resounding supporters of their most recent presidents, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama, respectively. Each report “ascribing a high-level of importance to their personal faith and say they participate in religious activities,” yet the question is, ‘where are the fruits?’
It doesn’t take a lot of time on the internet to find behaviors, statements, and policies from both parties and presidents that poorly represent Christ or make the country less safe for faith adherents. To name a few:
- The bipartisan support of the federal domestic spying program.
- The seemingly never-ending wars of the Middle East.
- CIA torture program.
- The ever-growing list of governmental powers and its associated bloated budget.
- The rampant and grisly drone program known world-wide for targeting weddings, funerals, and school buses full of children.
Many of the worst aspects of the American government are common ground for the political class. Yet Christ-followers are not flooding the streets or rebuking these policies in any meaningful way. Institutionally, the Church remains silent on much of this, instead choosing only to affirm social issues they deem worthy.
Instead, conservative Christians attempt to justify war crimes, the pardoning of war criminals, torture, despotic immigration measures, and a record-setting military budget on Christian grounds. Conversely, liberal Christians can be found publicly supporting abortion, questions on marriage and ‘social justice,’ and turning a blind eye to the same foreign policy atrocities as their counterparts.
This phenomenon isn’t just misguided theology. It is the worst aspect of an increasingly partisan and growing state apparatus that intrudes upon all aspects of life and therefore necessitates picking a political team. Some refer to it as mere tribalism, that peoples’ tendency to organize along “in-group” lines manifests in such ugly ways. Christians, though, should see the political process for what it is in our terms; idolatry.
Throughout Hosea – and within the rest of the prophetic and historical books of the Bible beginning in 1 Samuel 8 – God’s anger is directed at this very inclination in His people. The Israelite’s belief in man-made social organization, be it rulers or erudite policymaking, to usher in God’s will for them was a great offense to God. It was hubris to think kings could establish a utopian vision of peaceful coexistence in love-filled communities while subduing the earth. But it wasn’t only pride, rather, a direct repudiation of God’s order. Creation wasn’t to hand the reins of control to man, but rather an invitation to ride along in the cart while God led the way.
Historically, liberal Christians, particularly those in the black community, are motivated by injustice when picking political sides. Yet injustice continues, even within the ranks of the Democratic party, often perpetrated directly upon the poor and minority communities they claim to support. Abortions, draconian laws, the separating of families for non-violent crimes, oppressive police states, and hefty tax burdens are all foisted upon these folks by the very representatives they vote into office.
On the other hand, conservatives have tended toward traditional means of governance, including ‘original intent’ within Constitutional ‘exegesis,’ to preserve the liberty to worship and the values of Christianity. Yet, the blood of innocence cries out from the earth, spilled from regulators and warmongers lurking in DC these very Christians are frothing to support. The Christian Evangelical movement is wholly distorted by red-faced bluster about patriotism and ‘walking with a big stick,’ moot principles for those meant to inherit this earth.
As flags were unfurled and hearts were covered, American Christians should have been the first to take a knee. Not for one particular issue, but for the glory of God. There is no functional difference between the statue of Nebuchadnezzar and the monuments American’s hold dear. The worship of the golden calf and the obsequious praise of the stars and stripes are one and the same. What’s worse, Christ-followers aren’t being threatened with the lion’s den, but worship stone and paper joyfully.
Brothers and sisters, resist the urge to venerate troops or the framed-faces of presidents adorning our walls. Sing your songs not to cloth and stone but to God’s glory, and refuse to pledge your allegiance to any king but Christ. For we are called to be set apart from unbelievers for God’s sake, not to be unrecognizable in the crowd of faces seeking man’s direction.