What is the Christian response to having political affiliations such as
being a conservative, liberal, or independent? Does the bible say anything
about participating in a political life such as voting, protesting, being
a politician, etc? The reason I’m asking is because there are churches
that seem to be strongly conservative and then there are some that may be
loose and have members from different political backgrounds, and it just
bothers me because it seems to cause division among the brothers and


The question of Christians being involved in political activities is both
broad and deep in its implications. The answer will be based more on
biblical principles than biblical commandments. The Bible does not
directly answer the question of what types of political activities a
Christian ought to become involved in, and how this is to be done
appropriately. For this reason, the answer I give will involve reference
to princples, leaving rather large grey areas.

First of all, the Bible gives us a principle in 2 Timothy 2:4. Here, Paul
tells Timothy that “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian
affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer.” Let me say right
away that I do NOT believe this prohibits involvement of Christians in
political affairs. Not at all. What I say is that this principle should
cause us to be cautious how we involve ourselves in political affairs,
which, clearly are “civilian affairs” in the context of 2 Tim 2:4. We are
to not get caught up too thoroughly in civilian affairs because such
involvement can create a conflict of interest. This is why soldiers
serving in armies, even today, are required to exercise great caution in
exercising their freedom of speech.

The other side of the question is that Jesus may not have become involved
in politics, but he did involve himself in issues of “social justice.”
Jesus did not hesitate to point out injustice and sinful treatment of one
human being by another. Jesus spoke out publicly against corruption and
the abuse of power. He hesitated to become involved directly in such
machines of political power, as these would have distracted him from his

So, the Christian must find a middle road (with a lot of leeway for
opinion in how to do this) between being part of the political systems of
the world and being inactive in the sphere of social justice.

What party should a Christian be part of? (Using the USA as an example)
Should a Christian be a Republican or a Democrat? Which is the Christian
party? This is a matter of opinion. In general the Republican party
takes preferrable positions on moral issues such as abortion, but in
general the Democratic party takes more “Christian” views on social
justice and meeting the needs of the disadvantaged. I do not see it as
wise to publicly state which is the Christian party. It is, in my
opinion, very inappropriate for preachers of the gospel to use the pulpit
as a forum for expressing political views. Our preachers should proclaim
the gospel. They should not hesitate to label sin as sin, even when the
sin is corporate–perpetrated by the political system we are part of.

So, the church should not be taking political stands, but it definitely
should become involved in ministries which meet the needs of people.
Whether or not we should tell people to vote for the anti-abortion
candidate (given that the same candidate may take other political
positions which are diametrically opposed to basic Christian views of
social justice) is extremely dubious. On the other hand, for disciples of
Jesus to become involved in helping counsel people against abortion
definitely seems like a Jesus thing to do. Taking individual action as
Christians is a great thing. Taking public stands on political issues is
divisive. We should learn the lessons of church history and make
political statements with great caution. Experience tells us that
becoming involved with politics as a church is divisive.

What about the individual? Ought an individual Christian become involved
in politics so that they can affect change in the world? I say that this
is an individual decision. If they do so, it is not a statement of what
the church believes, but a personal decision. For myself, I would caution
against such involvement, because politics will inevitably cause one to
become involved in situations which are extremely tempting toward
compromise of convictions about honesty, integrity and so forth. However,
this is a personal opinion of mine, and should not be the last answer on
this question.

As for voting, I believe, personally, that it is a matter of good
Christian example to be an active, participating member of society. I
believe that Christians ought to vote–to express their convictions about
what is the best path for our society through the ballot box. However,
let me repeat that this activity should be chiefly an individual matter.
The church should not be telling people how to vote. For individual
Christians to discuss political questions on an individual basis is fine,
but even there it is wise to be aware of the ever-present possibility of
division over disputable matters. (Titus 3:9-11)

John Oakes, PhD

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