Influencing Government: A Resource

In my last post, I looked at how 1 Samuel 8 provides a clear warning against appointing and choosing leaders who pursue greater power through military strength, and through extraction of resources for the benefit of themselves, the elite. Now, I want to consider how the New Testament guides our understanding of how we are to use our resources, which includes influencing the government. First, though, there are certainly no direct explicit statements in the New Testament about how to vote or otherwise appoint leaders. Passages like Romans 13 that most literally talk about the government, are focused on exhorting us to subject ourselves to the government, and spoken to people who basically had little to no influence on the government. However, living in democracy, we do have influence, and by properly understanding influence as a resource, there are indeed passages that can give us important guidance.

Taking a step back, I believe it is worthwhile to consider what political influence really means. In reality, influence is simply another resource that we may have, that can be used to accomplish something. Resources that God may give us include finances, talents, skills, and even influence. These things are not ends themselves, but are all resources we can use to achieve and gain other benefits. Influence should not be treated as fundamentally different than these other resources, as like other resources, it can be used to achieve a variety of goals.

From a historic perspective, living under a democracy is a unique opportunity. This opportunity affords an amazing level of influence, and this has significant value, it is a resource, a privilege that God has blessed us with. And like any valuable resource (or “talent”, as Jesus calls our resources in Matt 25), the paramount question for the Christian is how can we be good stewards of the resources we have been blessed with.

Indeed, the opportunity to live as a citizen of a democracy isn’t just an abstract nicety, it has a real, quantifiable value. The US government administrates about 3 and a half trillion dollars a year (about $3,770,000,000,000 in 2014) in the federal budget alone, which comes out to over $25,000 per registered voter per year. That means that as an American citizen, in a democracy, where power comes from the people, the value or quantity of your influence in the governing process is over 25 grand, and even more if you are more proactive in interacting with law-makers. And that is just for the federal government and their budgetary decisions, our potential influence extends to other government desisions as well as to the state and local governments.

Influence in democracy is a resource, and as you can see, is actually a very large and substantial resource. As an American citizen, this influence is a definite and even large form of wealth. Again, as a follower of Christ, the question is how to be a good steward of our resources or wealth, including this one. And just like the question of how we will spend our money, how will we spend our political influence?

When it comes to money, most people will spend their money on themselves, on what will benefit themselves. The same is true with politics, the majority of people’s political leanings are generally very easy to predict based simply on what candidate or party will benefit them the most. But Christ calls us to something different, and He didn’t shy away from the subject of how to use our resources, our wealth. Jesus spent a lot of time talking about how to use what God has given us.

One possible choice for our political wealth is simply to do nothing, to be apolitical. Unlike material wealth, to forgo political wealth and influence, implicitly means that influence is handed over to others, to make decisions and assert their influence (influence is a zero-sum game). While this is deeply anathema to the American ideals of asserting your opinions and desires, to give away our wealth, to submit to the preferences is actually a very Biblical approach. Christ consistently taught us to live self-sacrificially, to be generous with what we have, and to defer to other’s desires instead of our own.

However, if we are to follow the words of Christ closely, I think we can do even better. And this is where we can turn to one of the most pointed and direct statements to one who has great wealth. In Luke 18:18-23, Jesus encounters the “rich young ruler”. This story is powerful and challenging, giving direction towards the wealthy to be incredibly and radically generous. However, we should also not miss the fact that Luke specifically indicates that this man was not only wealthy, but was said to be politically powerful.

What Jesus doesn’t say is just as compelling as what he does say. Certainly, meeting with a high ranking official would be an exciting opportunity for any of us. Jesus has encountered a powerful leader, and not only that, but this leader has basically asked Him what to do. Imagine if a leader wanted such open advice from you. Jesus could have easily responded and asked the leader to provide greater religious liberty for his followers, legislate scriptural commandments and morality, and maybe even offer tax deductions for the religious groups. Jesus certainly knew that great persecution was on the way, a real painful persecution that makes our petty complaints about religious infringements trivial in comparison. But Jesus, even knowing this (and he even foretold this of persecution), sought none of these things. His final command:

You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.

While this statement is unique in how challenging it is, it is quite normal in terms of the common theme of Jesus’ teaching and ways to characterize a Kingdom-oriented lifestyle as living on behalf of those in need (which has many dimensions, spiritual, emotional, relational, economic, and liberty). Here he teaches us to be generous, not living for ourselves, and specifically directs the one with wealth towards using their resources for the benefit of those without.

So how does this principle apply to different types of resources? We are called to use our resources to help those without the same kind of resource. Those with food help the hungry, those with clothing help clothe those without. Financially, the one with accumulations of money, is to help the poor. And applying this teaching to influence, a wealth of influence means power, and the call is to help and defend the powerless, the weak, the oppressed.

It is far too common to dismiss the story of the rich young ruler, claiming that Jesus asks different things of different people. And He does indeed ask for different things. However, there are perhaps few people in scripture that are more similar to most of our socio-economic positions than this rich young ruler. By any global standard, most of us have wealth that puts us in the top few percent of wealthy individuals. And that is just for this time period, if we are to compare ourselves to the rest of history (even adjusted for inflation), the typical wealth of an American is even more uniquely and exceedingly huge. The same is true of our political wealth. As calculated above, our political wealth, as citizens of America is very large (and potentially even larger if we are actively engaged). While we don’t know the exact position of the rich young ruler, if he was merely a municipal official, it is quite possible that simply being an American citizen entitles you to greater political power and wealth than this man. The story of the Jesus and the rich young ruler, is about as close as we can come to a imagining a story of Jesus and the typical American. If this story doesn’t speak directly to us, challenging us, nothing in scripture is relevant to us.

Unfortunately it easy to convince ourselves that we are acting “Christian” in our politics because we support candidates and policies that benefit us and our Christian friends, when in fact, this self-benefiting focus is precisely the opposite of the self-sacrificial ethos, living for those at need, at the core of Jesus teaching.

Therefore let’s recognize that we, in fact, do have great political wealth, like the rich young ruler, and then heed the words of Jesus, follow Jesus. Let us not spend that wealth on ourselves. If we are to spend it at all, let us use our resources rightly, our finances on behalf of the poor and our influence on behalf of the weak, powerless, and marginalized.

Electing Government: A Caution

With another election approaching, I wanted to write again about Biblical perspectives on elections. In the past, I have written about key Biblical principles that can be applied to discerning how to approach and prioritize different issues. Applying these broad Biblical themes is critical to seeing policy issues properly, rather than just pursuing what we want and calling it “Christian”. This year I would like to take a couple of posts to deal with a some Bible passages that perhaps most directly deal with the question of specifically how Christ followers should approach the action of electing and influencing government leaders. One passage is from the Old Testament, and the second from the New. The first passage is a warning, and the second is an exhortation to positive action.

Probably the most direct and applicable statement in the Old Testament to the question of electing officials is found in 1 Samuel 8:10-18. Here, the Israelites have asked for a king (vs 5). God then responds to their request, through Samuel. God’s response begins with a rebuke of the Israelites for rejecting the current theocratical structure (vs 7-8). But God tells Samuel to proceed with their request (vs 9, which may partly be due to the corruption that was occurring in Samuel’s sons, vs 3). However God makes plain the most dangerous pursuits of government leaders, and clearly warns them of what to be wary of in leaders.

The first caution, in verses 11 and 12 warns against leaders who would use their position of authority to invest in military might. It is one of the most common base tendencies of man to hunger for power. After successfully winning a leadership position, the next step in this pursuit is always to extend that power over other countries or regions. This hunger for more power, as sought through military strength, is precisely what God is warning against. And this is warning is against appointing or electing those that would either seek the enlargement of military might in terms of soldier count (“he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots”, vs 11), or those that would seek to expand the economic investment in military might (“to make his implements of war” vs 12).

The clear warning of 1 Samuel 8:11-12 is against establishing leaders who want to expand and grow the military. And there is probably no place on earth (and maybe even in history) where this warning is more pertinent. The US spends around $600 billion dollars a year on the military, more than the next top ten militaries in the world combined. Our obsession and spending on military might is unparalleled. Some have estimated that we spend 50 times as much on war as peace-keeping efforts. God’s warning against this focus on power and war is not just an arbitrary decree of God, this spending has been a huge part (in the trillions) of our federal debt and the tax burden on citizens.

What is the alternative? Support leaders that don’t want to invest so much in the military. As David later writes, in Psalms 20:7: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” This may sound naive to many, but this type of radical trust in God is precisely how Christians demonstrate their faith.

The next verses in this passages, from 13 to 18 warn against choosing leaders who would take resources from the people for their own gain, and even enslave people for their own benefit. This type of self-seeking leadership is not only unethical, but has increasingly been identified as one of the greatest hindrances to the growth of a country. One of the most influential books on developing economies in recent years was Why Nations Fail which defined a contrast between extractive and inclusive economies. They showed how throughout history, extractive economies where institutions and laws were established to primarily benefit the elite consistently lead to failed states with corruption, poverty, and violence. On the other hand, inclusive economies, that are structured such that the majority benefit from the resources and efforts of the economy, consistently flourish and enjoy growth and peace. And interestingly, the concept and definition of extractive leadership is very closely described in these verses. The extractive leadership that God warns against in this passage is exactly what leads to failed societies.

So what types of government activity are extractive? Some may simply think that taxation in general is extractive, but this isn’t actually consistent with this passage or others. In fact, Jesus (Mark 12:17) and the epistles (Romans 13:7) both explicitly state that taxation is a legitimate function of the government. Taxes can be quite beneficially used for the common good of society. The warning in verses 13-18 are not against taxation in general, but specifically against taxation (or enslavement) that is for the purpose of benefiting just the leaders or an elite group.

Historically, America has actually done quite well at fostering an inclusive economy. We have boasted of being the land of opportunity, and indeed millions have reaped the benefits of their investments in the American economy. As a democracy, leaders are held accountable, forcing them to take more inclusive approaches to their leadership. However, we must not be complacent. The most objective measure of an extractive economy, where an elite few are receiving the fruits of the economy, is economic inequality. And, unfortunately, America has steadily been growing in economic inequality.

Some of the most significant recent economic research has shown how economic inequality can naturally grow when nothing is done to abate it. It is important to remember extractive economies can be the result of both proactive extraction from people, as well as passive acceptance of economic structures that may increasingly result in an elite few receiving the majority of resources while most people receive less.

The basic warning of verses 13 through 18, is to avoid leaders who want to lead for their own benefit, or the benefit of the elite. The opposite of these leaders are those that seek an inclusive society, who are concerned about inequality. Taken as a whole, 1 Samuel 8 is God’s warning against choosing leaders that want to invest the country’s resources and efforts into power and selfishness, who hunger for more military strength, and hoarding of resources.

This post has primarily been a caution against negative leadership and focus. In the next post, we will look at an affirmation of positive focus in government power.

Biblical Principles for Politics, Part 2

Continuing our discussion from yesterday… 

Humility

Again, this is a theme with too many verses to count, but probably a great summary verse would be Proverbs 3:34: “He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.” Not only does the Bible give us direction about where to focus our advocacy, it also directs how to do it: with humility. As long as we pursue political gain by mocking, through arrogant insults, through derision, we are not walking in the way of Christ, who humbled himself to the point of death (Phil 2:8).

Much attention is given to the negativity and derisive nature of political campaigns. However, this is merely a reflection of the citizens that they are appealing to, and how they act and what they are drawn to. Unfortunately, those who identify themselves as Christians do not seem to be above the fray. Many church-goers are just as quick to mock and deride politicians and candidates, and lower themselves into the mire of political bickering.

Let me take this opportunity to try apply this principle myself. I certainly don’t suggest that these posts are an error-free exposition of the Bible. This is just my attempt at faithfully applying scriptures, and assuredly I’m probably wrong on many levels. Its my intention to be respectful towards all our leaders and candidates, and I offer my apologies to any I have disrespected. I merely hope that I can provide a small piece of perspective that can contribute to a respectful dialogue on important issues.

Holiness

Holiness, the concept of a way of living, set apart by its distinct approach from the world, is another major Biblical theme. However, we must recognize that this concept isn’t just an arbitrary idea God decided to implement, but is designed to glorify God by demonstrating the wisdom of God, as a set apart people live out his principles (Eph 3:10). God is glorified when people, voluntarily choose to follow his ways, and experience the harmony and goodness that results.

However, I believe many of us apply this concept to politics in a backwards fashion. Attempting to coerce or have government endorsement to push people towards the behavior of holiness undermines the central purpose of this Biblical concept since it blurs the distinction of the set apart people. Only when people freely choose to walk in God’s holiness, is the distinct contrast of holy living truly made visible.

Christ’s Kingship

Another key theme of the Bible is the centrality of Christ. The old testament looks forward to and foreshadows his coming reign, and the new testament delivers and applies his teaching. Specifically the old testament focuses its narrative on a chosen nation, Israel, to be the reflection and conduit of his God’s grace that would demonstrate His glory and invite the nations to enjoy it. Part of this narrative was the Davidic line of kings. The OT is laden with prophecies that point this story forward. God clearly intended his people, Israel, to be expanded to all who follow him, and include all ethnicities. And even more prophecies point to the line of kings to culminate with the Messiah. Jesus ultimately fulfilled this, becoming the true and final king of Israel. Today, Israel is those that would submit to his authority.

There are some key implications to Christ’s sole, authoritative, and eternal kingship over the kingdom that had grown out of the seeds of Israel. First, we must understand that the theocracy of the old testament- the rules, regulations, commandments, ordinances, and even principles- are backed by the authority of God’s kingdom alone (and contextualized to a certain people). To hand the enforcement of these rules over to an earthly kingdom simply because “the Bible says so” is to misunderstand the line of authority, and risks the subversive act of give authority that is rightly God’s to an earthly kingdom that has not inherited such a constitution. It contradicts Biblical teaching on the line of authority to assert that biblical commandments must be enforced by an earthly government. No national law is good or bad because it matches or doesn’t match or reiterate a commandment in the Bible.

Not only did Christ inherit and define his kingdom as distinct from earthly kingdoms, he sought to govern in a way that is dramatically different than the standard governmental approach. Normal governments must ultimately rely on some type of threat of harm to deter it’s citizens from ignoring laws in order to protect each other. Governments act in power-over role to provide its services of protecting it’s citizens. Jesus on the other hand demonstrated a rule characterized by submissive servanthood. He taught and demonstrated service to those that were following him and acted in humility, ultimately allowing himself to be crucified. This is a kingdom intentionally built on principles of leadership dramatically different than the world’s. Engaging this in public policy is naturally tricky without falling into the politics and practices of coercion.

These principles provide some constraints of both the extent to which we influence government and the role of government itself. However, the Bible doesn’t condemn government.

Role of Government

The Bible says very little about explicitly what governments should do. To be certain, governments are not an end themselves, in the Bible. They are simply a tool, and their purpose is defined by our greater vision that God has given us. However, Romans 13 does provide some small insights into the role God has ordained appropriate for governments, as it is the most direct teaching in the new testament on the role of the government. This passage doesn’t say a lot about the exactly what the government is supposed to do, but it does indicate that we are to submit to governments as legitimate, ruling authorities. As a legitimate authority, there are two activities ordained: punishing crime, and gathering taxes (and thus implicitly distributing them appropriately).

What Romans 13 doesn’t say about the government is also important. It doesn’t indicate that it must enforce every moral standard of the Bible, it doesn’t suggest building large militaries, and it doesn’t even suggest protecting religious freedom. That doesn’t mean the government can’t or shouldn’t pursue these things, but the ordained activities should certainly advise what we hope to accomplish and focus on through the government.

Like other things in our life that the Bible doesn’t give us definite directions for, a proper view of the government is to view it as an instrument or tool. Like a screwdriver that can be used to construct a dwelling or stab someone, the screwdriver itself isn’t good or bad, it is the result of how it is used that is good or bad. We must not force the Bible to say more than what it really says about the government, the government’s role must be treated pragmatically. A law isn’t good because it matches an Biblical command (again using this is a basis subverts Christ’s authority), it is good if produces a beneficial outcome for society based on God’s vision, His mission. This might sound like minor semantics, but there’s a major difference in the real world of public policy. With God’s mission being central, we must consider the potential outcome or fruit of different possible policies and priorities. Many political endeavors have seemed very moral, but have little to no chance of actually bearing any real fruit.

Loving People Over Ideology

The central theme of Jesus’s ethic was loving God and your neighbor. This care for others trumps everything else, including political parties and affiliations. In the Kingdom of God, people are more important than ideologies. This is was vividly demonstrated when Jesus challenged the Pharisees about their understanding of the Sabbath on multiple occasions. Quite simply, the pharisees had come to understand that observing the Sabbath was an ideology of God that they must not deviate from. Jesus shattered this notion, asking them “is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm”? The Sabbath existed for the purpose of benefiting people, not as an end in itself. What Christ demonstrated here was again that ideologies are only tools, and we must be ultimately concerned with whether a policy will benefit the welfare of others, rather than whether it matches the ideology of our culture.

We must also remember that we are people of with limited time and money. There are only so many battles that we can effectively fight. If we really care about achieving meaningful goals, it requires that we prioritize. When politics is not serving such purposes, it quickly devolves into ideological battles that accomplish nothing. Consequently I would suggest that even more important than being “right” on every issue, is prioritization, understanding where we can really make a difference. If you care more about winning arguments than prioritizing it isn’t important. But if you care about really benefiting people, we need to know on what issues we can make a difference and focus on them.

In the next post, I will try to look at what how we might prioritize our advocacy and involvement when we are driven by God’s vision.

Biblical Principles for Politics, Part 1

With the election approaching, I wanted to write a few posts on a Biblical perspective on politics. Christianity in America has and does heavily influence politics, but sometimes with misguided and just plain wrong interpretations of the Bible. This post is focused on applying the major Biblical themes. I believe that the major themes and motifs of the Bible paint a compelling picture of an active pursuit of justice and compassion that is radically different what we often see portrayed in mainstream politics today.

While this is focused on how the Bible informs politics, I write this to people of any faith (or lack of). To non-Christians I write to give a perspective on what I believe the Bible really teaches and how radically different it is from what is suggested by much of Christian culture. I also write so you may hold us, as Christians, accountable to the reality of Biblical teaching.

To Christians, this is a call to truly and fully follow the Bible, the way of Christ, rather than a piecemeal distorted version of the Bible. We need to commit to humbly accepting the central teachings of the Bible as central in the forming of our views. Rather than falling into the common trap of picking a verse or two to justify your position, it is critical that we understand what the Bible really aims to teach, letting the Bible speak to it’s priorities rather than letting the our priorities determine what we want to hear from the Bible. The major principles conveyed in the Bible that are critical for a proper approach to politics, not just for choosing sides, but for altering the way we even approach the political arena. In looking at these principles, I believe it is critical that we choose to make the Bible the starting point for defining our priorities in advocacy, rather than simply taking the hot topic of the day, and then consulting our Bible to see if it gives any advice on the subject. The Bible is not a political aide. It is a narrative that draws us into a focused pursuit of God’s vision, from which compels advocacy, and not vice versa.

The Bible repeatedly emphasizes the important of justice and and defines ethics in ways that are critical to shaping our perspective on public policy. In order to understand how to faithfully pursue Biblical justice through politics, we must understand the critical principles that are the major themes in the Bible, that shape not only what we pursue in politics, but how we pursue it.

Do Unto Others…

First, the most essential Biblical ethic that I’ll start with is the golden rule, which Jesus clearly articulates as the summation of the old testament:  

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.  Matthew 7:12

While being a relatively simple principle, this concept provides vast insight in the political realm. We should be guided by what is best for others. Jesus teaches this in no uncertain terms and he teaches this principle in the affirmative, rather than the negative (as some other ethicists and religions have done), clearly indicating that this a proactive, it is not merely a restraint from harming others (see James 4:17). If we are to do for others and as we would have them do for us, we must actively look to understand and help them in their plight. This is a simple idea, but applying this can be rather complicated, as we may have different ideas of what others really wish for.

This principle may not explicitly indicate which positions we take in politics, but it does fundamentally alter our motivation. Unfortunately far too many of us engage in politics and voting for our own sake. We would personally like to have lower taxes, more favorable religious policies, greater safety, or any other number of benefits. This is not the way of Christ. The way of Christ is to put the interests of others first. If we are to engage in politics at all, it should be driven by injustice that we see being done to others, not for our own advantage, comfort, or well-being. The vast majority of Americans’ involvement in politics and voting is based on one simple question: what or who will benefit me? Christians often do the same. I hope this post is an invitation take up our cross and follow Christ, even when that means going against the flow of nominal Christianity.

Grace

Another central tenant of the Bible is that we are undeserving people, and the mercy that God shows us is truly amazing grace. This is not just a spiritual principle. As soon as we approach the government with an attitude of how we deserve something, whether it be our paycheck, some liberty, or religious protection, we have fundamentally fallen from grace.

This also forms the foundation for the next principle. As Tim Keller said, “When Christians realize they did not save themselves but were rescued from spiritual poverty, it naturally changes their attitudes toward people who are in economic and physical poverty.”

Care for the Weak, Poor

The Bible goes further than just simply wishing good will towards all others. There is a strong and consistent emphasis on helping the weak, the poor, the needy, and the sick. The Bible admonitions us to care for the weak so many times, I won’t even begin to try to include all the references, there are hundreds, but some compelling passages are Matthew 25:31-46, Isaiah 58, Psalms 72, Proverbs 14:31, Jeremiah 22:16, and James 2. I’ve written more about the implications of these scriptures and what this means for domestic policy here. Briefly, the Bible directs to give consideration for helping the poor, and this must translate into our policies, ensuring that we have strong protections for the poor, weak, and sick. Maximizing the breadth of health care availability, ensuring adequate welfare/safety nets are available, and giving voice to the voiceless weak and minorities admist a political climate where money buys influence, are key parts of obedience to these scriptures.a

Global God

Our God is a global God. The New Testament repeatedly expresses the intent of reaching all nations of the earth with God’s glory. The Bible says he shows no ethnic partiality (Rom 2:11), and from the beginning Abraham was to be a blessing to the nations of the earth (Gen 12:3). One of the most natural inclinations of man is towards ethnocentricism, virtually everyone, at least subconsciously tends towards preferring those who are like us, or near us. This is natural. But it is sin. We must be driven by God’s global vision. While there is a natural tendency for our policies to favor Americans over others, and we must act against this, to stand up for justice for all, even those outside our borders.

This principle plays an extremely illuminating role in combination with the other principles. Not only are we to consider the plight of others, but we must equally respond to the plight of those of different ethnicity, religion, and beyond our borders. This has a very concrete application in policy. Whereas with narrow focus on America, we may focus solely on our economy, our safety, or even the welfare of the poor in America in our budget priorities, with a global focus, we are called to respond to the tremendous amount of absolute poverty and injustice outside of America, and also consider the amazing impact we can have on reducing such poverty. We must recognize the tiny portion of the federal budget (less than %1) that is actually allocated to international aid and fighting third world poverty. With the global perspective of God in mind, our budget priorities are even more tragic when contrasted with the huge spending for our military, which basically serves to keep us a little safer, while millions die each year in poverty. This should also critically shape our perspective on immigration. Do we view immigration solely on how it will affect or inconvenience current Americans, or do we consider the incredible opportunity that affords immigrant, or the potentially life-saving impact of the remittances that they will provide to their family back home?

The familiar refrain that “we need to get our own house in order before helping others” may sounds appealing, but it simply is not aligned with scriptures, where God continually uses and calls broken, lacking, needy people to help others. The more we come to embrace the global God, the more we must change our course towards prioritizing budget and policies measures that reflect the world’s needs including protecting international aid, global human rights, and immigrants over a narrow focus on our own interests.

Allegiance To God

The first two commandments of the ten commandments point us to an allegiance to one and only one God. The singularity of our object of our worship is expressed with the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one”. Christians must be committed to take up an unassailable allegiance to the pursuit of Christ’s way, above party or country allegiance. Here I discuss the importance of our allegiance to God over country here. This allegiance should further solidify our commitment to God’s global purposes above narrow national pursuits.

Not only can our allegiances to God be subverted by our country, but by a political party as well. Unfortunately it is extremely easy and subtle to be lured into allegiance to political parties. We tend to want to categorize people into good and bad guys. We find the good guys and then side with them. Then we can stop really thinking about issues and just follow whatever the good guys say. This has become highly evident with the conservative evangelical Christians. Even when conservative politics take stances that are blatantly contradictory to the Bible, Christians often follow right along, assuming that their side must be right. The same problem can certainly plague liberal Christians as well, and the warning applies to them too. However, it is undeniable that the vast majority of evangelical Christians are conservative, and so the threat of putting party alignment over Christian values is much greater on the right.

Thanks for reading and your careful consideration. More thoughts to come tomorrow…