Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Asheville, Inc.
Comments from Pastor Grant on Politics and Political Parties – April 2020
I. “Politics” – The Affairs of the People.
• “Politics” is from the Greek politikos "of, for, or relating to citizens." (Wikipedia)
• The process by which groups of people make decisions. The term is generally applied to behavior within civil governments, but politics has been observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. (Reference.com)
• Political scientist Harold Lasswell defined politics as the process of determining "who gets what, when, and how."
II. In his book, The Reason for God, Rev. Tim Keller speaks of a group of younger Christians who reject the positions of the liberal democrat and the conservative republican. He refers to them as being “much more concerned about the poor and social justice than republicans have been, and at the same time, much more concerned about upholding classic Christian moral and sexual ethics than democrats have been.” They, like me and many others I know, reject the extremes of both the liberal democrats and the conservative republicans.
Generally, the liberal democrats want to focus on the poor and social justice, while minimizing, ignoring and sometimes contradicting what the Bible teaches about abortion, sex and marriage. Generally, the conservative republicans want to focus on abortion, sex, and marriage, while minimizing, ignoring and often contradicting what the Bible teaches about social justice, poverty and the poor – while holding the view that sees poverty as simply a failure of personal responsibility.
As Christian believers, we will not focus on either while ignoring the other. In other words, we will not ignore what the Bible teaches about the poor and social justice, neither will we ignore what it teaches about moral and sexual ethics.
III. Conservative Republicans Position: In a previous election, I received a flier in the mail from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association which strongly urged voters to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman, protect the sanctity of life, and defend our religious freedoms. The flyer stated: “The Bible speaks clearly on these crucial issues. Please join me in praying for America, that we will turn our hearts back to God.” After reading his statement, I wrote in the margins of a picture of Mr. Graham these words, “BUT WHAT ABOUT HUNGER, POVERTY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, CORPORATE GREED, THE RICH TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE POOR, ETC.” The Bible, I was thinking, also speaks clearly on these issues.
IV. Liberal Democrats Position: The liberal democrats tend to focus on the poor and social justice, while minimizing, ignoring and often contradicting what the Bible teaches about abortion, sex and marriage. This position may be seen in comments from Rev. Dr. William Barber at a Moral Monday March:
“I’m tired of these so-called ultra conservative Christians and ultra conservative religious folks thinking they can decide what are the moral issues: Prayer in the schools, where you stand on homosexuality and abortion. These are matters between you, your pastor, your God or your priest and yourself. But they better know that there are some preachers – I’m conservative Christian. I believe in real conservatism, and I want to conserve what are the primary tenants of the word. I want to conserve treating your neighbor right. I want to conserve helping the hungry, helping the poor, I want to conserve lifting people up when they are down. I want to conserve people reaching out and helping their neighbor when they are down. I want to conserve a government that cares about all the people.”
V. My Response to the Conservative Republicans like Graham and to Liberal Democrats like Barber:
• To conservative republicans: Is it right during election time to emphasize the Biblical perspective on issues like abortion, homosexuality, religious freedom, and prayer in the schools and ignore or minimize the Biblical perspective on issues like HUNGER, POVERTY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, CORPORATE GREED, TREATING OUR NEIGHBOR RIGHT, LIVABLE WAGES, HOUSING DISCRIMINATION, ETC.?
• To liberal democrats: The God of the Bible is not a God of either the conservative republican position or the liberal democrat position. Neither conservative republicans nor liberal democrats get to decide what are the moral issues of our day. God has already decided, and God’s decision is recorded in His word.
To people like Rev. Barber, I ask: Is it right to take Biblical issues like abortion, homosexuality, religious freedom, and prayer in the schools and make them matters between “you, your God, and your pastor or priest” while taking Biblical issues like hunger, poverty, the poor, and social justice and make them the Moral Monday Issues of our day? Is it right to deemphasize, privatize and gloss over Biblical issues that don’t fit into your politically correct agenda while emphasizing, politicizing and publicizing Biblical issues that do?
I say to those quoting the Bible like Graham and Barber: If we are to be true to the Biblical faith, we must preach and emphasize the WHOLE COUNSEL of God. If we are not going to emphasize the whole counsel of God, then we should not be quoting the Bible at all.
A professor at Columbia University, Fredrick C. Harris says:
Many African-American voters align best with the Republican Party on social issues – abortion, gay rights, school choice, prayer in schools – but diverge when it comes to the federal government’s role in protecting civil rights and providing a social safety net. With black voters, “economic issues always trump social issues.”
In other words, what he is saying is that if black voters have to make a choice, they will vote for their wallets rather than for their morals. This is his observation on why black voters generally tend to vote for democrats. It is largely perceived that democrats care more about black people’s wallets. But is it true?
Is it good for black voters when democrats can take them for granted and assume they got black voters in their pockets? In this regard, conservative columnist Larry Elder points out that “When Blacks Voted 80% democrat, Malcolm X Called Them 'Chumps'” (Mar 13, 2014). Yet democrats, said Malcolm X, failed to deliver on a promised and much anticipated new civil rights bill, knowing the party could still count on their blind support in the next election. X goes on to say . . .
"You put them first and they put you last. 'Cause you're a chump. A political chump! ... Any time you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two-thirds of the government, and that party can't keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you are dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that party -- you're not only a chump but you're a traitor to your race."
What would Malcolm X say, Elder asks, about today's 95 percent black vote?
There are Black conservative evangelical Bible-believing Christians like myself who don’t feel at home in either political party.
• Closer perhaps to republicans on issues like abortion, sexual ethics, marriage, and religious freedom
• Closer perhaps to democrats on issues of hunger, poverty and similar social justice issues
So what are voters like you and I to do when our two leading political parties tend to want to make it an either/or proposition? Does the Bible have anything to say about this question? Absolutely! The Biblical answer is that we must stick to the truth of God’s word and remember that God is neither a conservative republican nor a liberal democrat.
Someone has said: “We don’t have permanent enemies or permanent friends, only PERMANENT INTERESTS.” Well, those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ can certainly say that our PERMANENT INTERESTS are the interests of the Kingdom of God. “Seek ye first,” Jesus says, “the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
Therefore, our interests may be said to be Kingdom Interests, not political party interest. Our first loyalty is to God’s Kingdom, not to a political party. God is a God of truth and love. As a God of truth, God does not emphasize truth to the neglect of love. As a God of Love, God does not emphasize love to the neglect of truth. As His followers, we are called to speak the truth in love – love people enough to tell them the truth. We don’t have to sacrifice truth to be loving, and we do have to sacrifice love to be truthful.
Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Politicians and political parties don’t set us free, but the truth of God does!