Joshua Voss: Has politics become the new religion?


By Joshua Voss

Guest columnist

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.” — Matthew 6:33

It is 2023 and another campaign year is upon us. Already, our televisions, phones, radios, online platforms are buzzing with campaign ads that are full of personal and political smears, “heartfelt” appeals and begging of funds.

The comment sections on all social media platforms are a war zone full of vitriolic banter, heated debate, propagandist rhetoric and trolls and bots of all walks of life that threaten to suck you right into the discussion. Meanwhile, our “fair and balanced” mainstream news media condescends to you the viewer as they present the “facts” from their barely concealed bias as they try to reassure their viewers of their virtue.

As we once again go through this time-honored tradition, a question has been coming more often into my mind: Has politics become the new religion?

One would like to say no, but recent and rather alarming encounters have made me wonder. I once met a woman who insisted that anyone that supported Trump is irredeemable and would “go straight to hell” and met several right-leaning folk who insist that Democrats are “demons.” There is plenty of violence committed on both sides, and both sides insist that it was “justified.”

Regardless of the affiliation, one’s political views are now used by many advocates as a means to judge the actions of their neighbors while simultaneously using their own stances in justifying wrongdoing of themselves. We see political activists destroy buildings, disrupt lives and even murder and then have to listen while people on both sides of the political aisle blame the other for it.

Where do Christians fit into all of this and what should we be doing? What is our duty during these times when humanity while ironically calling for people to be virtuous but then seem to abandon all virtue?

What does God say about it? This is when we must go to the word.

First, we must identify love. Love as defined by God is patient, kind, isn’t proud, does not dishonor, is honest, is not selfish, is not easily angered, does not keep grudges, it does not love evil, it loves truth, it protects, trusts, hopes and always perseveres [1 Corinthians 12:4-71].

Love is the greatest virtue and the foundation of the law. In both the Old and New testaments, it is loving God [Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matthew 22:39] and your neighbors [Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39] that is considered the fulfillment of the law [Leviticus 19:18, Romans 13:18, James 2:8].

Is this what we see in today’s political landscape? Do we see the fulfillment of God’s Law of Love? Or is it the work of his adversary? Do we fit Jesus’ description of those who murder in the name of a “just” cause and believe we do God service [John 16:2]?

Remember that murder is not just an action but a thought [Matthew 5:22].

God said he will put the law in the hearts and minds of his people. What does that mean? What happens to the mind if the heart stops beating? How long can the heart survive if the mind ceases to function?

The two are not separate entities. When one turns on, the other does not shut off. If one tries to function at the expense of the other, it results in the death of the body. This is true in our spiritual life also. Our bodies are the temple of God, and we are not only to honor God in spirit but in deed [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].

God has sobering words for those who claim righteousness while committing lawlessness: “Lord, Lord did we not stand against hatred? Did we not protest against government overreach? Did we not try to stop gun violence? Did we not try to save the planet? Did we not protest war? Did we not protest LGBT? Did we not kill those who opposed your authority? Did we not try to create equality and punish those who opposed this righteous cause?”

God will say to all those, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

I am concerned that our political convictions may be blinding us to our responsibilities and we are confusing one for the other. I am not saying we should not involve ourselves in politics nor to demonstrate righteous indignation when we see moral and legal wrongs done by the state or the masses, but if by being faithful to our political convictions causes us to be faithless unto God, is it worth following?

I, therefore, remind all that claim to be God’s followers of God’s command to seek first the kingdom and God’s goodness. If we claim to revere justice and oppose sin which is lawlessness that God has made it clear that both the spirit of the law and the letter of the law are clear: Without righteous intention, there can be no righteous action, but without righteous action, all righteous intention is rendered worthless.

Joshua Wayne Voss is a longtime resident of Seymour. He has an associate degree in criminal justice from Ivy Tech Community College and is a truck driver for JB Hunt.

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