Why I’m Politically Homeless

I’m looking for America
I’m looking for a place to breathe in
A place I could call my home
I’m looking for America
I’m looking for the land of freedom
A place I can call my own

America who are you?
Am I asking for too much
America who are you?
Has your dream become out of touch
America who are you?
Do you get what you deserve
Between the violence and entitlements
Which nation do you serve?

These lyrics from the song “Looking for America” by Switchfoot and Lecrae encapsulate the feelings of many young Christians in America. We’ve felt this for a while. But murder of George Floyd and ensuing protests, riots, tensions, politicizing in DC, and media mess have brought it to the forefront.

We are looking for America. The idea of America, where all people truly are equal and free. Not just white ones. Where all people–particularly black people–have the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

And while many of us were raised to find it in one of the two political parties, we haven’t found it yet. We’re politically homeless. And sometimes, it feels like we are “asking for too much.”

It’s not just young Christians who feel this way, of course. A couple years ago, Tim Keller (an old, white pastor for those who don’t know) wrote in the New York Times that all Christians do not (or should not) fit into a two-party political system.

He exposes the problem of “package deal ethics,” as British ethicist James Mumford calls it. This means that a party says you can’t work with them if you don’t adopt all of their positions. So, it puts pressure on Christians to join one party or the other. And it prevents Christians from doing what is right in the name of politics. Like work to bring racial justice to our nation.

I’ve used another term for this problem in my conversations with friends: guilty by association. We think if we associate with anyone on one issue, we are guilty of siding with them on every other issue.

But that’s a lie from the pit of hell.

Keller gives a helpful example, “Following both the Bible and the early church, Christians should be committed to racial justice and the poor, but also to the understanding that sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family. One of those views seems liberal and the other looks oppressively conservative. The historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.”

Do you feel that tension?

I do. If I agree with a perspective or policy advocated by a Democrat, many Christians would (wrongly) assume I am “adopting the whole package.” And essentially forsaking the gospel itself!

That’s quite an oversimplification. And Justin Giboney recently tweeted something that shatters this fallacy to pieces: “Being conservative or progressive on every single issue is intellectually lazy & unfaithful…Make conservatism sympathize & pursue racial justice. Make progressivism acknowledge absolute truth & the sanctity of life.”

As ones who believe that Jesus is all and over all, and that our allegiance to him is infinitely more important than political affiliation, we should be leading the way. This should make the most sense to us. Our political convictions and ideas should be the most robust and nuanced. And it should cause both sides of the aisle find us attractive or repulsive at different moments.

This will leave us politically homeless. But this is the way of Jesus.