Every presidential election cycle in the United States is like a massive pendulum of ideas, perspectives and ideologies that swings back and forth powered by individuals, vested interest groups, politicians and political parties. And the means by which these individuals and groups power this pendulum is through political power, influence, money and propaganda.
But to be honest, this is the way politics have always operated and the exact same ingredients have been used throughout history. That is why politics and governments, as systems, can never be redeemed because they will always be built upon by the corrupting influences of power, influence and money … even when we have the best of intentions.
With that said, there has been increasing and bewildering confusion among Christians as to how we ought to engage with the political system, generally, and for whom we ought to vote, specifically.
Too many people try to make God or Jesus fit into their finite, limited, broken dualistic constructs, in which only “my political party” or “my ideology” is right because my side is backed by God and the other side is colluding with the powers of evil.
This kind of thinking is referred to as dualism, and it is a limited way of looking at the world and people. It is the kind of thinking that produces comments like “a Christian would never vote for Hillary Clinton” or “a Christian would never vote for Donald Trump.”
A dualistic mind sees the world only as black and white, as in my way is always right and your way is always wrong.
Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar, said: “The lowest levels of consciousness is entirely dualistic (win/lose) — me versus the world and basic survival. Many, I am afraid, never move beyond this. The higher levels of consciousness are more and more able to deal with contradictions, paradoxes and all Mystery (win/win). This is spiritual maturity. At the higher levels, we can teach things like compassion, mercy, forgiveness, selflessness, even love of enemies.”
This is important because movements beyond the dualistic (win/lose) mind begin to erase divisions and dividing lines, affording us the opportunity to work within and between groups and individuals and then allowing us to bring to everyone that which is transcendent — compassion, mercy, forgiveness, selflessness and love. This movement, or shift in our heart’s position, is nothing less than the work of the Holy Spirit, who is moving us to see others as brothers and sisters and then working to unite us together in the love of the Father.
That is why it is so disappointing that Christians, from any political and ideological persuasion, validate their politics, political affiliations and ideologies with the exclusive endorsement of God or Jesus because neither God nor Jesus endorses your politics or ideologies.
For example, a Christian conservative might believe that God is against abortion but in favor of killing criminals through capital punishment and killing enemies in war. A Christian liberal might believe in a woman’s right to choose whether she wants to have an abortion but believes that God is against killing human beings through capital punishment and war. Each side may view theirs as “right” and may even view their position as what God or Jesus would approve or endorse.
The dualistic mind does not have the ability to understand that all life is valuable and worth protecting, whether it is an innocent and defenseless baby or an enemy combatant. The value of and the love for human life transcends the dualistic mind and the dividing lines of politics. And that is the work of God’s Spirit in our lives.
The truth is that as we pursue and promote political positions and ideologies that limit or inhibit the transcendent values of God through the Spirit working in our lives, we oppose our identity and purpose as the Body of Christ in the world.
Neither God nor Jesus is a Democrat or Republican, a conservative or liberal, a Trump supporter or Clinton supporter. God, as demonstrated through Jesus, is life, love, mercy, compassion and grace that transcends all divisions and dividing lines.
And the logical next step in our thinking is that we, as the Body of Christ, ought to be in that place as well … in positions that transcend all divisions and dividing lines, that work to preserve all human life, that unconditionally love every person on every side of every issue, that move in ways of mercy and compassion for every single person in the world, that bring peace and reconciliation between individuals and groups and that extend the grace of God to all.
That is why Jesus was able to easily move between groups and have voice with each of them because he wasn’t trying to pick sides in the man-made arena of politicking and governance. Jesus moved among the religious and irreligious, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the outcast, the chosen and the unchosen, with an invitation to all to join a movement in which dividing lines have been erased, social stratification has been obliterated and religious and political affiliations have been put to death.
For this movement is an invitation for every man, woman and child into a new humanity that leaves polarization and division and then unites solely in the transcendent values of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, why do we continue to settle for so much less?
It begins with you.
Brandon Andress of Columbus is a former local church leader and a contributor to the online Outside the Walls blog. He can be reached at his website, brandonandress.com.