Believe it or not, I’m 24 and I finally registered to vote. You know, it’s strange, but the people who push for voter registration, many of them are worse than any breed of fundamentalist! Talk about guilt and pressure!!
Anyways, everything looked fairly straight forward: name, address, driver’s license number, and such. And then I got to the political affiliation portion. This was tough for me. I’ve never really aligned myself with any particular party. What party was I going to join?
What makes this a dilemma or even remotely interesting is that as I pursue the pastoral path, politics becomes a rather sticky issue. Is a pastor to have any allegiance to a particular political party? Should he make that public?
My conclusion (with the help of some friends), is that a pastor should not have any political party affiliations. He certainly can (and must) have views on political issues as they are seen through the lens of Scripture. But the pastor must be defined by his affiliation, allegiance, and association with God, his kingdom, and his church, not by a political party.
Many people would say that this is a moot point, since, nowadays, your affiliation with a political party is not really all that significant, especially since moderates make up the vast majority of both parties. For most people, it seems that joining a political party simply means you are privvy to primary elections. But I don’t think it is unimportant. What affect would it have on you if you found out I was a Libertarian or a Democrat? What affect would that have on you especially if you were a non-believer? Would that color your listening of my sermons, my presentation of the gospel, my lifestyle? I’m sure it would. “Oh, Brian’s a Republican, just a typical fundamentalist preacher…” or “Green Party? Does he promote a social gospel?” The coloring of my image should not stem from my allegiance to any earthly government system, but the politics of the heavenly kingdom, which has been breaking into our earthly reality since the birth of Jesus.
This all begs the question, which is much larger than my small issue: what political party would Jesus join? I would be the first to defy anyone who would claim that Jesus was apolitical, because most of what Jesus’ message was about was very politically loaded (he was crucified, at least on the superficial level, for his politics). But I would be the last to identify him with any existing political party. It could probably be argued quite vigorously that Jesus was the head of his own political party, one that advocated theocracy.
Pastors and Christians, let’s join his party.