Christian Unity and Politics

August 10, 2008

Christianity and politics have had a rocky relationship.

In the early days of the church, government persecuted the church. Later, the government practically merged with the church. Those previously persecuted Christians must have viewed the sanction of government as a wonderful thing. But centuries of state-sponsored Christianity led to war in the name of Christ, and to corruption of both the morals and the doctrine of the church. In more recent times, separation of church and state has become the rule in western cultures.

Today, opinions among Christians vary about the relationship between church and state. Some believe the church should actively promote its agenda in the political realm. Others believe the church should focus on meeting the spiritual needs of individuals, and leave politics alone.

If your priority is Christian unity, then politics can be a hindrance. The American two-party system has a tendency to polarize issues. There are major Christian values on both sides of the aisle. One side opposes abortion, while the other side opposes the war. One side emphasizes individual responsibility, while the other advocates expansion of the government-sponsored safety net. Since we aren’t offered a choice that perfectly matches our Christian values, different Christians are drawn to different ends of the political spectrum depending on how they prioritize the issues, and on which compromises they find least offensive.

Many churches lack diversity of culture and therefore of political persuasion. I suspect those churches are the ones most likely to be politically active and to take public positions on political issues. Those who have a successful outreach to a diversity of cultures have to be more diplomatic about politics.

There are some opinions that Christians should keep between themselves and God, for the sake of unity. I think controversial political views are on that list.


  1. Could you elaborate on your last statment? Do you believe we should keep quiet about only controversial political issues or all political issues? Perhaps we could follow the example of Queen Esther,and speak up only when it’s a matter of life and death. Do you believe that would be acceptable? Why or why not? Thanks for considering my questions. Your topic is very interesting to me.

  2. Hi Terry,The main point is that unity trumps politics. I can have Christian unity with someone who is politically on the far end of the spectrum from me. Of course Christians should stand up for the gospel, but we should choose our battles wisely. We need to discern between doctrine and politics, and keep the two very carefully separated, with great diligence.

  3. Terry, one more point: When reaching out to the lost, politics can be a showstopper. At that point we should be talking about sin, righteousness, judgment, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, and the Lordship of Jesus…. not border security, tax policy, national health insurance, the war in Iraq… If we’re all about the latter issues, we are putting stumbling blocks in the way of people who might otherwise be saved.

  4. As an independ free thinker I strive in every aspect of my life to strive for unity even when it comes to Christianity and politics. I believe you have done fantastic job on your post. Keep up the great job Alan.

  5. Thanks for your reply, Alan. I agree that politics can disrupt unity and become a barrier in presenting the good news of Christ. Although I vote and occassionally contact an elected office holder about an issue, I try to avoid talking about politics. However, most people would probably accurately guess that I am concerned about a few social issues because of my faith and my family.

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