There is a line in the Derek Webb song A King and a Kingdom that has really stuck with me. In the song Derek says there are two lies he’s heard. One is if you eat of this fruit you shall not truly die. The other is that Jesus was a white middle class Republican and if you want to be saved you must be like Him.
Though the song takes a particular jab at the association with Republicans and Christianity, it could go the other way just as easily. There are also Christians (though maybe not as many or as vocal) that tie Jesus to liberalism.
So, why do we feel the need to tie Jesus to our political ideologies? It is a practice that goes back to when Jesus walked the Earth. Many people with causes tried to hitch their wagon to Jesus, convinced He would bring their cause out on top. Many insurgent Jews were convinced Jesus would overthrow the Roman empire. Others thought He would help them rise to power.
In truth the Kingdom Jesus was bringing was far different than they, or even we often expect. The sovereign political rule of Jesus will happen, but not in our corrupted systems. God will have to destroy our systems before a system is in place that Jesus can rule in.
So what is wrong with tying our faith and politics together? First of all, there is no political ideology that fully embraces the truth of God’s Kingdom. All of them get bits and pieces, but none of them cover it all.
The danger is that we make Jesus like us. If we are Republicans, so is He. If we are Democrats, so is He. Though it may be true that Jesus is saddened by abortion, that doesn’t make Him a Republican. By tying Jesus to a political ideology, we attribute stances to Jesus on issues He never made stances on.
So what should we do? I would say that our faith and the gospel should determine our politics and not the other way around. What does the gospel speak to issues like abortion, capitol punishment, healthcare, or marriage rights? You may find as you ask this about different positions, you will find yourself on different sides on different issues. That is as it should be.
So, let the Kingdom of God determine how we view the world, but never let the world determine how we view the Kingdom of God. Let the gospel dictate our social and political positions, but never let politics dilute the gospel.