One of my favorite bands as a teenager was Everclear. I loved their energy and Art Alexakis’ deeply personal and powerful stories. I still feel like they are one of the most under-rated bands of the 1990’s, although I will concede the criticism that much of their music sounds alike (but so does many of my other favorite bands from that time, i.e. Social Distortion, Bad Religion, etc.). However, Mr. Alexakis started to lose me when he went political. Most artists, when they go political, lose me. I have no issue with an artist’s personal opinions, but I don’t care for it to show up in the music itself, at least overtly.
In 2008, Everclear released a song called, “Jesus Was a Democrat.” If you’re an audio masochist, you can follow the link, but I advise against it. This was in response to the previous twenty years of Republicans claiming to have a monopoly on the politics of faith, which, in reality, didn’t mirror the teachings of Christ any more than the idea that Jesus would have been a lefty using the government to do the charitable works that he commanded us to do in our personal lives. And we know Jesus wasn’t wearing a “Taxation is Theft” hat when he was walking around performing miracles, so that pretty much rules out the fact he would have been a Libertarian as well.
So, what were Jesus’ politics?
Well, that’s not an easy question to answer, which makes it one that people want to simplify and mold to their own perceptions. No doubt Jesus was a political figure, much like being vocal about being a follower of Jesus is a political position in 2019. However, as Andrew Brietbart apparently once said (I cannot confirm this, I have just heard it), “politics is downstream of culture.” I believe that Jesus, and the teachings of Jesus, are upstream of culture. I believe a Christian’s first duty is to be a Christian, and then, a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or whatever else next, as it fits into your faith.
The world is not black and white. It’s not that simple. People want it to be simple so it’s easier to comprehend and easier to assign people to your side or the opposition, but it’s just not that way. They find it impossible to imagine that you would want to protect our Southern border and still care about the people who are flooding across. They find it impossible to imagine that you care about unborn children and care about what is best for women. Contrary to what many people think, right, left and otherwise, the world is not a series of mutually exclusive situations and decisions.
The issue with faith and politics is really just a manifestation of an issue that pervades all of politics: people will mold authoritative sources to fit their worldview, rather than mold their worldview to those authoritative sources. We see this all the time whether it be memes that misquote, or take out of context, things said by the Founders or other presidents or things like, “the Second Amendment only applies to muskets.” And we all know people will cherry pick statistics and use them out of context to make their point. Sometimes, even when the truth is the polar opposite of their argument, that argument looks compelling because they’ve twisted the truth to sell the lie. While we live in a world of rampant moral relativism, it’s not a new thing to the human condition, it’s just on technological steroids now.
Personally, I have no issue with your faith, or lack thereof, informing your politics. It’s really impossible, if you think about it, for something that deeply personal to you to not influence your worldview. Where I have a problem with it, especially when it comes to Christianity, is trying to use Jesus to push your narrative (which the left tries to do every bit as much as the right). One, if you don’t have the facts and logic on your side, you’re not convincing anyone, even many Christians such as myself. Many of us will also know if you are quoting Scripture out of context and will not be fooled by it. And two, as a Christian, Jesus never forced anyone to believe in him or to follow him, he convinced them through his words and actions. Even when they nailed him to a cross, he didn’t force anyone to do anything. If you force someone to do something, it’s not real. You’re always worried about those folks you forced rebelling against you. However, if you convince them to do something, you’ve got yourself a fellow believer who will stand and fight beside you.
I love Jesus, but please stop telling me how he’d vote or feel about a political issue.
NOTE: When looking for a photo or meme on Google images to suit this post, over 90% of the memes I saw were left leaning memes using Jesus to attack the right. Some of them had some merit, but most of them were obviously written by people who had never actually read the Gospels or the rest of the New Testament. Some, yet worse, were blatantly putting words into Jesus’ mouth that he never spoke. Again, this is why using the love of Christ to motivate you to take political action is a good thing, but claiming he would endorse you and your statements is something else altogether.