Over the years of writing this column, I’ve been chastised many times for sounding like I believe Christians can vote only for “right-wing conservatives.”
“You should be more open-minded,” some have chided, “after all, Jesus wasn’t a Republican.”
How should I (or you, if you tend to agree with me) respond?
Well, first, let’s be clear. No one ever said Jesus was a Republican. That’s an absurd retort that hardly warrants a response. So, let’s get back to the issue rather than waste time on such foolish non sequiturs.
The argument I persistently make in this column isn’t to tell anyone which candidate to vote for as much as it is to suggest that if you claim to believe something, then your vote should be consistent with that belief.
For example, if you believe in freedom, shouldn’t you vote for less government rather than more? Or, if you claim to believe in women’s rights, shouldn’t you vote for someone who understands that if women aren’t real, they have no rights? And likewise, if you say you believe in creation care, surely you should vote for someone who believes in the Creator, shouldn’t you?
The bottom line for Christians reading this column is this: If you claim to believe in “living water,” how can you continue to vote for a party that pours forth poison in its policies, practices and prose?
If you’ve read the Gospels, you know quite well that the expected enemy of Jesus was the Romans. They were occupying his land, after all. You also understand that traitors, such as the Jewish tax collectors, were assumed to be at the top of Christ’s enemy list, right up there with murderers, thieves and prostitutes. But the evidence shows that Jesus didn’t treat the Romans like enemies and that he even chose a repentant tax collector and former prostitute to be part of his inner circle.
No, the scriptures don’t portray these expected culprits as the primary target of Christ’s ire. On the contrary, those who constantly got the worst tongue-lashing from Jesus were the social elites of that time — the Pharisees.
These people were the most powerful of their day. They were the lawyers and teachers. They were the senators, congressmen and college professors.
They were the smart folks. They were the first-century versions of Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, Gavin Newsom and Al Gore. Pharisees were the cultural authorities. They defined what was good and evil, hot and cold, right and wrong, and they told everyone else what laws they had to follow, when and where, and how.
Now, at first blush, you might think that such upstanding, law-abiding folks would be the first to come to the messiah’s side and he to theirs. But that’s not the case. In fact, Christ called them “white-washed tombs, wolves, snakes and vipers.” He called them hypocrites. If Jesus had any enemies, it seems to have been them.
Because they were false. They claimed to be one thing when, in fact, they were another. When pressed, their souls poured forth contempt rather than confession, self-righteousness rather than repentance, hypocrisy rather than integrity, and vice rather than virtue. They told everyone else to wear the required “masks,” so to speak, but then they didn’t bother to wear the sacred garb themselves.
Jesus had stern words for these people. He said their souls were full of death and decay. He lambasted them for pretending to be something they were not and for lying to themselves and lying to others about themselves. These were the folks who appeared to be Jesus’ primary target rather than the unwashed masses.
Now, before we’re too quick to chime in and say, “Go get ‘em, Jesus,” we all might want to take a moment for personal reflection. Are any of us really any different? When we’re pressed, what pours forth from our soul?
Practicing what we preach seems to be all-important to Jesus. Pharisees who justify their quest for power rather than fighting for freedom are guilty of false advertisement (and probably many other sins). They use deceptive packaging to lure in their audience, wrapping worthless gifts in the sayings and teachings of sacred writ.
When squeezed, they reveal their insides. They show they have a different core than what their outside lets on. That’s not leadership — it’s cowardice. If anyone wants to be a good Christian, a good man and a good citizen, they have to harmonize the things they say to the world with the things they do in it and the things they claim to value, with the way they vote.
Jesus may not have been a Republican, but it seems pretty clear he would never have voted for a Pharisee.
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host.
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