Political Partisanship & Christians


US political parties promote themselves as sources of calm within turmoil, providing candidates such as Biden-Harris and Trump-Pence to back their claims. Many Americans agree with one side or the other and place their hopes in party or candidate or both. 

How does such partisanship work for the nation?

More than two-thirds of Americans suffer from politically-generated stress says a recent Harris Poll conducted for the American Psychological Association (APA).

Political independents suffer the least at 64%, Democrats the most at 76%, with Republicans in between at 67%, according to the poll. The total percentage of all Americans burdened by political angst rose from 52% in fall 2016 to 68% today.

Beyond partisan worries, more than three-fourths of Americans stress out about the future of their country, the report says. The pandemic, wildfires, racial justice and economic uncertainty add to the feelings of unease common in most of us.

What can we do? No easy answer. Christians carry a mandate from Christ to make disciples. Paul says we serve as ambassadors of heaven, representing God to the world. Paul says to work in the world without being of the world. This can create a difficult problem when our God-directed work—even just voting—involves political participation.

Parties and candidates can serve as false idols, viewed as ultimate sources of justice, prosperity and even hope. Israel made such a hierarchical mistake by seeking a king to provide leadership. The desire for a strong political leader blackballed Yahweh, turning their creator into a jilted lover. Yahweh told the disappointed judge Samuel, "Go ahead and do what they’re asking. They are not rejecting you. They’ve rejected me as their king."

Only a few American Christians would welcome theocracy in our era. Yet, many get caught up in the excitement and single-mindedness of partisanship, sometimes letting party or candidate sneak in as the center of hope, a role reserved for Jesus the Christ.

While American Christians should vote and otherwise participate in the political processes, Jesus alone gives us hope. Jesus created all things. He reconciles us to the Father. He fills our hearts with his agape-style love. Jesus takes no political sides. Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal/progressive—he welcomes all as his disciples. And within his church he desires unity in our diversity. 

Bob Kerstetter