Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Quitting Politics

I am finished with politics. I’ve had enough. I hung on through 2020 election, but the anger, intolerance and partisanship did not end with the inauguration of a new president. In fact it has gotten crazier than ever. Many Americans have become detached from reality as they embrace conspiracy theories and find any excuse to attack political opponents and mindlessly submit to confirmation bias. Fake news has evolved into alternative reality. It seems impossible to discuss topics rationally with anyone that does not already agree with you.

Americans have been led to believe that when it comes to governing our country we must choose between competing ideologies: liberal or conservative, blue or red, Democrat or Republican.  Even when we declare ourselves to be “independent” or “undeclared,” people assume we harbor unconfessed political bias that must be ferreted out. It is assumed that everyone and everything is political. Politics rule America.

I am opting out this binary mindset. I quit. I officially declare myself to be apolitical. That does not mean that I will not vote. I will vote my conscience. As always I will vote the person and not the party. I will continue to voice my convictions about ethical and social issues facing American society. I will take a stand on national policies. But from now on I will have nothing to do with political ideology. I will make decisions and cast my votes based on spiritual principles.

I will use two criteria. One is the adage that was popular in Christian circles in the last century: “What would Jesus do?” I will answer that question by examining his words and actions in the gospels. When discussing the sale and use of handguns and assault weapons, I would ask, “What would Jesus carry? What would Jesus sell?” When it comes to treatment of persons whom establishment religion considers “sinners” I would ask, “How did Jesus treat them?”

The second criterion is that I will treat others as if they were Jesus. Jesus taught, “As you have done to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you have done it to me.” If it were the Holy Family fleeing a murderous dictator at the US southern border, would I turn them away? If it were Jesus on death row, would I execute him? If it were Jesus needing healthcare, would I be the Good Samaritan and foot the bill, or would I turn aside? If I were a baker would I refuse to bake Jesus a cake?

People will surely insist that this is too simplistic. It is not practical. People will argue that Jesus’ teachings cannot not be used as a blueprint for social or national policy. I reply, “Why not? Because the politicians say so? Whom should we listen to? Jesus or politicians? Should not Christians act like Christians? Why should political party affiliation be allowed to trump our spiritual identity?

I reject the idea that obeying Jesus is impractical or idealistic. I will no longer be defined by the opinions of political pundits, liberal or conservative. I will be defined by my commitment to Jesus Christ.  People would ask, “What if everyone did what you are suggesting? What would become of our country?” I respond: How wonderful it would be! The whole nation living in unconditional love! What an impact that would have on our country and the world?

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other.”  I cannot serve both Christ and Caesar. Those who executed Jesus declared, “We have no king but Caesar!” I declare that I have no King but Jesus. 

Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.” I am Christ’s – body, soul, and spirit. No part of me belongs to Caesar. I am not beholden to any political party or ideology. For that reason I will make every decision based solely on the guidance of the Living Lord Jesus Christ. Goodbye, politics!


Deb Hoffman said...

Amen to this! How you wonderfully express how I have been feeling but have been unable to put into words! Thank you!

Unknown said...

Have you ever heard Mavis Staples sing "You've got to serve somebody"? Her music mirrors the gospel, again, and again, and again. I highly recommend you give this, and "You are not alone", listens.

I too believe that how we govern should be a reflection of what we believe. Bringing the kingdom to earth is what we are called to do, and it cannot be separated from our our politics. It seems so obvious that it is way too often obscured. So, pray tell, how can one, or should one, not advocate for gun control, a fair wage, LGBTQ rights from the pulpit or from the pews? Polls show that the majority of Americans are on the side of following the do unto others rule that virtually every religion teaches. I have to wonder how differently our Churches would look on Sunday morning and throughout the week if they would begin speaking the truth about every policy that governs our nation in relation to how those policies govern our hearts. I have to believe that act of what would now, (sadly) be seen as an act of courage, revitalize the Church.

Perhaps the place to start would be to begin a common table ministry; put policy issues smack dab in the middle with intentionality in a Bible study.

Mary Ann Drapcho

CSC Web said...

I, too, am disgusted by the hatred displayed by both sides on our national stages. There is no beauty in hatred.

"I will be defined by my commitment to Jesus Christ." This is beautiful. I, also, hope to commit to this. Indeed, render the life of darkness (bios, as Marshall teaches us) unto Caesar. I aim to be a citizen of the Eternal Life (zoe), and to trust God to bless us with a Lincoln or a Reverend King to evolve our nation, should such a continued pattern of history truly be His will. Such an evolution may not be in my lifetime, if ever at all. Regardless, I hope the I Am will discover I've spent my life tending the fields He has asked me to plow; and I know, for me, those modest fields are far, far, far from our national stages.

Daniel Papapietro

Tom Cubb said...

I've been pretty much apolitical every since Vietnam. Aware of the issues, yes--vote, yes--stay far away from the divisional mayhem. It was, after all, a combination of organized religion (Pharisaical) and government (Roman) that worked together to put Christ in the cross hairs of the cross.

J. Gage Hutchens said...

Marshall: my spiritual director suggested I read Brother Lawrence and I thank you for your modern English translation. Just a quick note here to say that I too have reached a similar conclusion regarding politics: WWJD? But I also reflect that with mercy our Lord expects obedience “if you love me you will do as I command.”

Gage Hutchens