Why do church leaders ignore lying, adultery, and other serious crimes and sins committed by their political allies?

The eagerness of many Christians to ignore, excuse, and even defend the morally reprehensible deeds of their political “friends” and allies always baffles me. How does one reconcile arguments from political expediency with biblical warnings to “let not sexual immorality or uncleanness even be named among you”?

Early in my Christian walk, I was taught to strive for holiness in every area of life. Sin must not be tolerated in thought, word, or deed. “Do not evil that good may come!” As a disciple of Jesus, I was to live “separate” from the fallen world, not physically, but spiritually and morally. His follower must not be “unequally yoked together” with sinners.

Jesus warned his disciples that anyone who loves a father, mother, or child more than him is not worthy of him. Instead, he called his disciples to “deny themselves, take up his cross, and follow after him,” not exactly a formula that encourages compromise with egregious sinners! And Paul was the great teacher of grace, but of a grace that is not entirely free of conditions — “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”

Today, at least publicly, most if not all church leaders will agree with such stated principles, though actually sticking to them may be a different matter. For whenever these biblical mandates are applied to the political arena, the Great Exception rears its ugly head.

Pragmatism prevails over principle when the time comes for politically active Christians to employ the political means to push their agendas. Besides, all is fair in love and war. And is not partisan politics simply another way to wage war against one’s political, economic, and cultural enemies?

And so, many righteous church leaders make common cause with known liars, serial adulterers, extortionists, warmongers, and the like, even anointing some of them as God’s chosen vessels, and all in the name of morality and “family values.” Talk about strange bedfellows!

Paul warned believers at Corinth not to be “deceived,” for the “unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” And that category includes “fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners.” And I dare say that the average politician is guilty of at least three or four of those ten sins, which means they will be excluded from God’s kingdom.

Or take the list of sins recorded in Revelation that will land you in the “Lake of Fire” — The “fearful, the unbelieving, the abominable, the murderer, the fornicator, the sorcerer, the idolater, and all liars will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.” The category of “liar” is especially stressed in the passage by the addition of the term “all,” which leaves very little wiggle room. And politicians are not exactly known for forthrightness and honesty!

Ringmaster Photo by Mark Williams on Unsplash

So, if lying or adultery condemns someone before God, how is it that in the political arena pathological liars and serial adulterers get a free pass if they support approved “Christian” policies and agendas? Certainly, church leaders will denounce any politician from the “wrong” party who is caught in a lie or accused of sexual sin, but not the liar or adulterer who promotes their favorite cause.

I have heard all the same tired arguments time and again. “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” “I agree with you, brother, except when I operate in the political arena.” “That’s how it works in the arena of realpolitik.” Etc., etc. ad infinitum. Or perhaps Isaiah was just kidding around when he declared, “Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil.”

Of course, such unprincipled excuses only strengthen the case for Christian non-participation in the whole sordid mess, and they all boil down to the same immoral proposition. You must do evil to accomplish good!

Compromise, sin, and hypocrisy are the inevitable fruits of participation in an inherently corrupt system, and Jesus called his people to something far higher. And hypocrisy quickly becomes the defining characteristic of church leaders who replace the biblical mission of proclaiming the gospel with an agenda of social, political, and national “reformation.” And if resorting to the political means necessitates compromise, hypocrisy and sin, that alone answers the question — Should disciples of Jesus be involved in politics?

Human society is in trouble due to sin, not because the wrong set of sinners is running the show. Sooner or later, politically active Christians will find themselves sleeping with very strange bedfellows. That they excuse the sins of their political allies demonstrates that they have compromised their commitment to the biblical faith, never mind the great damage they are doing to the gospel! Or perhaps they are not such “strange bedfellows” after all.

Paul predicted the future “apostasy” that he linked to the “man of lawlessness” who will seat himself in the house of God, and over the decades, I have watched and waited for that reality to appear. But it is truly distressing to see it unfolding before my eyes as so many church leaders climb into “bed” with politicians, parties, and agendas that are so egregiously incompatible with the teachings and life of Jesus Christ.

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My name is David Maas. I have expertise in theology, and in Bible history and languages. This blog focuses on issues concerned with Christians and politics.

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Christ or Caesar

Christ or Caesar

My name is David Maas. I have expertise in theology, and in Bible history and languages. This blog focuses on issues concerned with Christians and politics.

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