I first posted this on my blog but I also wrote it for readers here. Thoughts? Experiences? Thanks! -Anthony
A lot of my friends are politically conservative. A lot of my friends are not. I’m thankful that I have managed to make and retain friends on both sides of the aisle. I’ve noticed that with no shortage of bad news economically, socially, or politically some of my friends seem to be more vocal with their discontent. I respect their right to free speech and expression about those issues but I can’t help wonder if it is the wisest course of action.
While Christian Americans have every legal right to express their political opinions like everyone else, does that make it appropriate? Is it better to bite one’s lip (even til blood is drawn) if it means more opportunities to share the gospel by not letting politics be the wedge that divides? Better to tone down the political rhetoric so as not to be automatically tuned out as just another one of “those” right-wing’rs? In the minds of non-Christians we are automatically lumped in with FoxNews, Bill O’Reilly, and Glenn Beck. Is it worth it to sit on the headline sideline and care more about the Gospel and being identified with Jesus Christ?
John the Baptist didn’t weigh in on political issues when he railed against Herod. He did it for moral reasons of Herod marrying his brother’s wife (Mark 6:14-18). Jesus called Herod “that fox” (Luke 13:32) not over some hot-button political topic but over the threat that Herod wanted to kill him. I might be missing it, but the only example I can think of of Jesus weighing in on the politics of the day is when he said to go ahead and pay taxes, rendering to Caesar the things that are his, and to God the things that are God’s.
Like you and everyone else in this country I have strong views on the same issues of national debate. Everyday it is a tongue-holding struggle for me not to express my joy or frustration in a blog post or Facebook status. That’s probably the main reason I don’t have a Twitter account–the temptation to not adequately filter my views before they go unretractably public. [Ironically, the day after I wrote this I signed up on Twitter. Life’s funny like that. I still hope to avoid political statements though. -AR]
I heard one time that John MacArthur does not share his political views so as to maintain a witness with anyone he meets. In his article “The Gospel and Political Activism” he writes,
God has above all else called the church to bring sinful people to salvation through Jesus Christ.
When the church takes a stance that emphasizes political activism and social moralizing, it always diverts energy and resources away from evangelization… [which] invariably leads believers to feel hostile not only to unsaved government leaders with whom they disagree, but also antagonistic toward the unsaved residents of that culture—neighbors and fellow citizens they ought to love, pray for, and share the gospel with. To me it is unthinkable that we become enemies of the very people we seek to win to Christ, our potential brothers and sisters in the Lord. (emphasis added)
He then proceeds to quote author John Steele who argues that a “politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but weakens our loyalties.”
I guess that’s what I’ve been trying to emulate–Dr. MacArthur’s perspective. It isn’t always easy. I’m not saying my way is the “right” way, but at this stage of my life it’s where my conscience is comfortable.
Yes, I absolutely have opinions and care deeply for my country’s health and future, but I don’t get into specifics about it. That’s also why I am a registered Independent; I sacrifice not being able to vote in party primaries so as not to be instantly labeled by party affiliation. On my Facebook profile my political views are simply, “Benevolent Monarchy–All Hail King Jesus!” Hopefully a surprising and thought-provoking twist on what might be otherwise expected of me.
I’m open to learning more about this. Feel free to share your thoughts on the value of Christians being vocal in their political views. If you have, has it caused a rift with someone that made an obstacle to sharing the gospel?