Scott Tibbs

Loyalty to Christ should come before everything else

By Scott Tibbs, May 20, 2022

We live in a hyper-partisan time, and politics has increasingly become idolatry even to many Christians. This is to be expected of those who are spiritually lost, but should never be the case in the Church. So how should we approach politics, keeping our primary loyalty in mind?

Some would say that identifying as a member of a political party is wrong. We need to be careful to not build walls where Scripture has not. While our political affiliation should always be subordinate to our identification as a Christian, it is not wrong to identify as a Republican (or a Democrat) provided that identity is second to our commitment to our Savior.

One example is how we approach negative news. We tend to minimize negatives about "our side" while maximizing negatives about the other side. Both can be wrong and potentially a violation Exodus 20:16. Our partisan loyalty should not prevent us from saying something is wrong, but we should be especially careful not to spread falsehoods. Before we share something negative about the opposing party - especially something personally damaging about a specific person - we should double check and make sure it is true.

This does not mean it is wrong to believe negative news about someone from the opposing party. Intelligence guided by experience can inform us about whether or not something is likely to be true. Out obligations under the Ninth Commandment do not preclude us from having discernment.

Some would even say we should cover up the infirmities of political opponents. But Jesus did not do that with the woman at the well. Scripture itself records many sins both of God's people and His enemies. There absolutely is such a thing as being a gossip or a tattletale, and we should not allow our political involvement to degenerate into that. There are also necessary warnings and truth telling – especially in the context of the public square or electoral politics. If someone's personal behavior or public policy positions are dangerous, Ephesians 5:11 informs us that we should expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness.

As to your own side, identifying as a member of a political party does not mean you cannot hold your own party accountable. We should never excuse immoral personal behavior, open public cruelty or dishonest rhetoric just because someone is on "our side" or part of our political party. We should also not excuse uncivil behavior from our side because of bad behavior from the other side. That is a partisan form of moral relativism and a betrayal of our Savior.

One of the ways we can fight against the temptation to be idolaters of a national political party is to be involved in smaller institutions and community organizations. The most important of these is the local church. We should not shy away from interacting with those of different political views, and doing so might even help us learn something. It also helps prevent us from oversimplifying opposing arguments. A better understanding of the opposition also makes our own arguments stronger. Surrounding yourself only with people who share the same opinions makes us vulnerable to group polarization.

Ultimately, everything we do must be subordinate to Scripture - especially our political affiliation. For conservative Christians, this means not everything Democrats do is bad. But it also means that not everything Republicans do is automatically good. Some of it is very bad and we should oppose and rebuke it. The so-called "eleventh commandment" should never be placed above or equal to our Christian faith.

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