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How Would Jesus Vote?

Politicians, political junkies, and social activists have not been shy about co-opting Christ for their cause. At various times, statements like the ones below have been made or insinuated by devotees of one party or the other:

  • Jesus would be against big business.
  • Jesus would support welfare programs.
  • Jesus would vote pro-life.
  • Jesus would support a woman’s right to choose.
  • Jesus would denounce the war in Afghanistan.
  • Jesus would support prayer in schools.
  • Jesus would be in favor of same-sex marriage.

Last night, I added another one to that list:

  • Jesus would support Health Care Reform.

Of course, your take on Jesus’ response to nationalized health care probably has more to do with your politics than your theology. That’s not to suggest that Jesus’ teachings never translate into political policy, but that those who mesh the two usually jettison (or simply overlook) elements of Christ’s ministry and teaching in order to use Him to sanction their political opinion. Yesterday, I was reminded of one such aspect of Jesus’ life and teaching.

We have been studying the Gospel of John on Sundays and our pastor, Jim Mann, spoke a wonderful message yesterday entitled “The Betrayal” (you can find the podcast HERE ). In speculating about why Judas betrayed Jesus — and why many people today fall away from Christ — Pastor Jim noted the politically charged age in which Jesus ministered.

With the Romans in charge, politics were simple: Pay your taxes, do what you were told, and stay out of the way of Roman authority. If not, you faced imprisonment or execution. Nevertheless, groups of Jewish zealots emerged plotting takeovers and subterfuge. More than once, the crowds sought to make Jesus king, hoping to overthrow their political oppressors. But at every turn, Christ refused to enter the political fray. “My kingdom is not of this earth,” He said, en route to His execution.

Pastor Jim rightly wondered whether Judas had such political motivations. Perhaps he had come on board hoping that Jesus would spearhead a revolution. At the least, they wanted Him to put up a fight. Yet when the Roman soldiers came to take Him away and Peter whacks off one of their ears, Jesus rebukes him: “Put your sword away! All who live by the sword, die by the sword.” And “as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Is. 53:7). After performing miracles and claiming to be God, this must have confused, if not bothered, His disciples.

As much as people want to attach Jesus to their political agenda, He was clearly apolitical. When given a chance, He did not condemn the government. He said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mk. 12:17), which must have torqued those disciples with political aspirations. Christ’s kingdom was not of this earth, which made its relationship with the kingdoms of this earth all the more unique.

As much as I am angry, depressed, and concerned about the expansion of the U.S. Government, I must remember that I belong to another kingdom — two kingdoms, to be exact. One is temporal, one is eternal. This is not to condone political inaction in the City of Man, but to put it in perspective. There is a time to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” to pay your taxes, protest, and call your congressman. But, like Jesus, there is also a time to be silent.

Which leads me back to my question: How would Jesus vote? Frankly, I’m not sure he would vote at all.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Niki Turner March 23, 2010, 2:09 AM

    Ah, Mr. Duran, there's something very comforting in knowing someone else out there is thinking the same things! As concerned as I am about the state of the government, I am more concerned about the way the church is beginning to turn patriotism and political ideology into a doctrinal statement. Jesus is not an American. God is not a Republican. Warning: don't say that in church on Sunday morning… it's not well-received!

    • Mike Duran March 23, 2010, 1:11 PM

      Thanks for your comments, Niki! One of the reactions against evangelicals turning "patriotism and political ideology into a doctrinal statement," is the emergent / post-evangelical movement. Interestingly enough, I believe these postmodern believers have, far from becoming a third way, simply become the political foil of conservatives. It's no coincidence that so many leaders of this movement are social activist who support health care reform. All that to say, Christ is hijacked by both sides.

      • Gina Burgess March 25, 2010, 3:13 PM

        Agreed. He is hijacked without completely understanding what He stood for, all to make a point stronger that may be wobbly at best. It is sad, eh? When people think more of their own agendas than in Christ's agenda!

  • Robert B. March 23, 2010, 2:21 AM

    As soon as Jesus voted he would alienate a whole group of people (mainly people of other political persuasions). So to answer your question — no, Jesus would not vote.

  • Kanga March 30, 2010, 5:21 AM

    Jesus never had a problem alienating whole groups of people. He turned off entire crowds by what he said and did. He never condoned same-sex marriage, being a Jewish man of the law (the law of Moses clearly condemns homosexuality, e.g. Leviticus 18:22), pro-life wouldn't even be a question, and a woman's right to choose wasn't even in the vocabulary. Sure, Jesus would allow any human to choose sin, but that doesn't mean it will go un-judged. The right of a woman to choose is based on the idea that it is her body and her baby–but neither is true. Both the mother and the baby belong to God. Furthermore, forgiveness is given to the repentant (those who by God's grace have turned away from sin). The only politic Jesus would be interested in is the Kingdom of God. Jesus would definitely promote prayer in school–he did so with his own students (the disciples). As for war, Jesus is a warrior of the Spirit not of the flesh. As for welfare, Jesus would want to give people more than physical food–he would give them life from Himself.

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