In politics, Christians align themselves on different sides of major political debates. Some Christians will argue passionately in favor of government action on a certain public policy, while other Christians argue loudly against it. Moreover, there are times when we tend to become too emotionally invested with our preferred political candidates to the point that we are willing to damage our relationships with fellow believers because of disagreements in politics. That is why when it comes to politics, it can really become so emotionally toxic, mentally draining, relationally messy, and spiritually destructive.
Politics tends to polarize our society in general, and the body of Christ in particular. Political divisions are evident on social media, where discussions by all sides are usually angry, hurtful and personal. As a result, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to carry out a reasoned exchange of divergent views even among Christians.
Sadly, this hateful and harmful kind of political polarization is getting worse. Some experts call it the rise of “political sectarianism”. It is the “growing tendency of one political group to view its opponents as morally repugnant. This level of political divisiveness on both sides creates a feedback loop of hatred… a highly moralized political identity that views the other side as contemptible.” This ‘taliban-like-cancel-culture’ brand of political sectarianism has three key components: the first one is what we call “othering”—labeling people with opposing opinions as so different from us that they’re almost incomprehensible. The second part we call “aversion”—this idea that they are not just different, but they’re dislikable. The third part is this “moralization”, where they are written off as morally bankrupt. Those who do not agree with the group’s political convictions are banished as idiots, evil, or heretics.
As Christians we need to bring back human dignity in our political conversations, and reverse this ugly trend of dehumanizing and “othering” one another. But given the wide range of perspectives within the Christian family and the complex and divisive nature of politics, it should not surprise us that Christians also disagree about how to approach politics.
So, how should Christians engage in political debates over divisive issues in politics?
Here are some helpful guidelines:
1. We are spiritually united in Christ. But our political views as believers are diverse.
Christian disagreements about politics are often disputes on matters of mere opinion. That is why political debates should not cause division among believers. We can love one another in Christ, even when we do not agree in politics. Hence, Christians need to practice unity even when we disagree: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity” (Rupertus Meldenius). We must seek to generate more light than heat.
“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.” (Romans 14:1, MSG)
Instead of calling all followers of Christ to speak with one political voice and claiming to resolve political debates definitively, we must recognize there are different Christian views when it comes to politics. We must accept that, “far from conformity and unanimity, finding a common ground in politics is about providing room for divergent viewpoints and disagreeing opinions. It is our capacity to disagree agreeably that is the true hallmark of a mature democratic society. The truth is that democracy is not served by asking everyone to think in the same manner, or for that matter—to vote for the same candidates.”
Hence, a healthy church would allow space for members to hold a range of political views, advocate for those views, and still feel loved in Christ. We need to stop shaming, belittling, demeaning, dismissing, or demonizing fellow believers who do not agree with our opinions in politics.
We Christians must learn how to do political dialogue and have honest conversations without people getting angry. We do not have to agree on all matters of politics, but we need to stay one in Christ.
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3, NLT)
It is crucial that the Church be understood as a diverse family of believers (with different political views) that finds its commonness in Christ. The nature of how we engage politically and how we disagree with each other is an aspect of our discipleship. By working together across boundaries of political opinions, we can seek unity in Christ as we share the Gospel message with a broken world.
Hence, it becomes problematic when a certain group baptizes their political view as the only correct Christian view. When we dismiss nuances and diversity in democratic discourse and dialogue, and claim that we have absolute monopoly of the right view, we end up with nothing but outrage devoid of intellectual humility and integrity.
When we dehumanize others, it can lead people to the justification of words and actions that degrade other people. This stands in deep contrast to the theology of the Imago Dei (the Image of God). As Christians, we believe that every single human being bears the image of God. We believe that every human being is fearfully and wonderfully made. When you find yourself disagreeing with someone’s politics, what is your usual response? Does it align with kingdom values?
As Christians, we need to agree that the most significant aspect of our relationship is not our political views, but that we are connected together as brothers and sisters in Christ. 
So, when it comes to politics, all Christians disagree. The question is, does it matter “how we disagree”?
2. We belong to a higher kingdom. God’s rule is above and beyond any political government.
In the Gospels, religious leaders tried to drag Jesus into political controversies of his day.
Knowing that either answer would very likely cause Him trouble, they hoped to trick Jesus into making a dangerous statement, asking, “Tell us, then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” (Matthew 22:17). Unwilling to take their bait, Jesus responded with a command and a question.
First, He told them to show Him the coin used to pay the tax, and then He asked them whose image it bore. When they answered that the coin bore the image and inscription of Caesar, He offered this enigmatic response: “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give back to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). With this reply, Jesus refused to take a side in the fierce political debate of His day over the poll tax and “implied that loyalty to a pagan government was not incompatible with loyalty to God.”
It is also interesting to know that among Jesus’ twelve disciples, He included a government official who is loyal to the Roman government (Matthew the tax collector), and a revolutionary activist who wants to fight the Roman government (Simon the Zealot). While Jesus did not condemn Matthew’s apparent submission and service to the political leaders of their time, He neither condemned Simon’s anti-government political convictions.
Jesus seems to be showing us that the values, principles, and purposes of His Kingdom are beyond and above the political kingdoms of this world. Matthew and Simon may have different political preferences, but at the end of the day they are both followers of Jesus. We may disagree with other believers about their opinion about the government, yet we all belong to Christ’s family.
The truth about governments, empires, and rulers is that they all come and go, they all rise and fall. Yet God remains to be the sovereign authority over our nation, and over our world. God is in charge.
This means that our highest loyalty and allegiance are to God, not to political entities or governing authorities. God is the true King over all other kings.
We are citizens of a higher kingdom. That is why no matter who rules our world — tyrants, corrupt leaders, or empires — as God’s people we can have confidence and hope (instead of panic, fear, anger, or despair) that God’s rulership is above and beyond all governments and political leaders of this world.
As Christians, we can find comfort and peace knowing that whoever ends up in power is in that position because God has allowed that to happen. So, whether you like or disapprove of whoever is in authority, the Almighty God is still on His throne and has a plan and purpose that our finite minds cannot comprehend.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1, NIV)
3. We are the light of the world. Our thoughts, speech, & actions must reflect who Christ is.
The New Testament speaks exhaustively about how we believers are to conduct ourselves in all spheres of life, including in politics. And this much is certain, our citizenship in the kingdom of God is meant to inform or guide the way that we exercise our citizenship in our own nation. That means being more engaged in the political process. It means cultivating a willingness to bear our political and civic responsibilities no matter the cost. Christ instructs us: “you are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NIV)
If political engagement is chiefly an act of neighbor love, and if love, as defined by the apostle Paul in Scripture, is to be kind, among other things, then there is really no excuse for us to take up our political responsibilities without the kindness that Scripture requires (1 Corinthians 13:4). And, lest we misunderstand, kindness is not being spineless or weak. On the contrary, a Spirit-driven commitment to convictional kindness in the face of slander and misrepresentation takes courage and resolve. And it might be just the thing to turn the tide of politics as we know it.
When entering a political conversation, Christians should be more focused on loving their neighbor and honoring the dignity of that person than on proving a point or winning an argument. Perhaps how we engage—the tone and approach—are just as important as what argument we can bring to the conversation.
How we speak and engage in politics should be glorifying to God. We should be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19). Jesus cared for others, and we should care for others too as we seek to walk as Christ walked (1 John 2:6). When others know that we care for them, they will be more likely to hear us out. Even the person we adamantly disagree with is made in the image of God, and we ought to honor them as such (Genesis 1:27).
Every person has value and worth, and our conversations with them should reflect that. In a world where opinions seem to be dividing us more and more, let us remember our humanity. Let us treat others the same way we want to be treated. We don’t have to always agree. But we should always be kind.
Thus, we need to focus on finding common ground with others. Meeting on common, non-threatening ground can soften one’s heart, open the door for future conversations, and deepen relationships.
“When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22, NLT)
We must also remember that there’s so much more to people than their political affiliations. If we put people in a box based on their political party or who they vote for, we are missing an opportunity to recognize and appreciate their other unique traits and interests. Where we align politically is not our identity. We are first and foremost daughters and sons of the King, who are created in His image and called to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). 
Think before you post on social media. Check your heart for the motive behind your post.
Are you trying to change people’s minds? Do you want others to think of you in a certain kind of way? Are you trying to belittle or discredit people who don’t believe what you do? Or do you enjoy inciting arguments to make people get engaged in a verbal war of comments?
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:5-6, NIV)
As Christians we must use social media as a tool to build others up instead of contributing to the negativity. Our behavior on social media is part of our witness as Christians.
4. We trust that God is in charge of history. Pray with discernment and vote with wisdom.
Ultimately, God is the Sovereign King who rules our planet. No political candidate will ever hold a government position apart from God’s plan and God’s will.
Daniel who served under a ruthless political leader said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” (Daniel 2:20-22)
While it is true that God is in charge of our universe, God still invites His people to participate and collaborate with Him in the accomplishment of His plans, the advancement of His kingdom, and the redemption of nations. God in His wisdom, allows us human beings to make choices as to which form of government would work best for our society and which type of leaders would be most able to lead us well.
● We must pray for our nation and our political leaders.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:1-6, NIV)
This encouragement by the apostle Paul of praying for those in authority can definitely be easier said than done especially when we do not like our political leaders. However, think about how many times Jesus called His followers to embrace counterculture ideas. He challenged them to love their enemies, pray for those who persecuted them, turn the other cheek, and more. Surely, He wouldn’t call us to do these things if we weren’t capable of doing them. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to empower us to achieve the seemingly impossible and not give into the desires of our flesh.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to remember to pray for those in positions of leadership.
● We must vote prayerfully, responsibly, and wisely.
When you vote, know your reason why you choose the specific candidate. Your reason should not just be for any personal gain, but for the good of many. God calls us to love Him and love others. Choosing the best candidate is one way of showing love to others. Do your best to choose wisely and educate others, then vote (this is our responsibility). If others are already closed minded, don’t be angry. You did your part in reasoning with them. Leave the results to God.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
Pray that God would guide the Filipino people to choose which leaders are the best ones to govern our country. Remember that whoever wins the elections, it is God who is ultimately in charge of our political leaders and the affairs of our nation.
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” (Proverbs 21:1)
For more helpful Christian guidelines on how to choose political candidates, please read the segment below entitled: “PCEC Guidelines in Choosing Candidates”.
Concluding Thoughts for Reflection
In light of these not-so-easy discussions in politics, we must still acknowledge that Christ is Lord even in the political areas of our society. As Christians we strive to honor God as we engage people in difficult conversations.
- The Bible teaches us that everyone is a sinner and human wisdom is imperfect. Ask yourself: Do I see the moral flaws and mistakes of my chosen candidate? If none, is it because I am unaware or unwilling to see it?
- The Bible teaches us to ‘speak the truth in love.’ Ask yourself: Am I willing to speak the truth and hold my chosen candidate accountable? Am I speaking in love to the other candidates and their ‘camps’?
- The Bible teaches us all persons have dignity. Ask yourself: Am I treating the other candidates and those who plan to vote for them with the same dignity as my political ‘camp’? If no, then what sinful attitude or wrong thinking do I need to repent from?
- The Bible teaches us to ‘love our enemies’ and ‘overcome evil with good’. Ask yourself: Do I choose to retaliate with insults to those who malign me? Am I burning bridges or creating walls instead of becoming a peacemaker? Do I choose to be kind and respectful even when I disagree with others?
Moreover, as Christians living in a democratic society, we need to understand that our political system can be messy. Democracy is meant to be messy. Necessarily, to be a democracy, people must be free to exercise their beliefs, to speak, and to organize. This is because a democracy involves everyone who wants to participate. As wide and rich is the diversity in our backgrounds, opinions, ideologies, and persuasions, thus there is no doubt democracy can be messy. Strong differing opinions, the freedom to speak one’s mind, and the right to participate in governance are all part of the “messiness” of democracy.
While democracy can be a messy thing, and despite all its many faults and misgivings, a democratic system gives us hope because in the end, these mistakes can be corrected through wider political participation. We can always work to make it better through our choices. For example, voting during elections.
We know that we are having political maturity in a democracy like ours when we recognize that “we need to engage with others who may think, live or believe differently from us—to listen when we don’t like what they have to say, to respect what they have in mind without attempting to change them, and to remain open minded enough to the possibility of changing our own views, if need be in the end.”
Hence, a democratic society matures when people are able to hold on to their beliefs, have clarity about their principles and the confidence to think and speak freely—whether or not they are in agreement with the rest.
Therefore, as followers of Christ living in a democracy, we need to remember that: (1) we are spiritually united in Christ, but our political views as believers are diverse; (2) we belong to a higher kingdom. God’s rule is above and beyond any political government; (3) we are the light of the world. Our thoughts, speech, & actions must reflect who Christ is; and (4) we must pray for our nation and our political leaders. Pray with discernment and vote with wisdom, and trust that God is in charge of history.
Serving Christ with you,
The Christian Bible Church Pastoral Team
PCEC Guidelines in Choosing Candidates
The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), the largest network of Evangelical Christians in the country, believes that a mature electorate produces good governance. Instead of campaigning and endorsing candidates they have focused on voter education so the people can be discerning in choosing the candidates that they should vote for.
They have also mobilized their member churches to watch and pray for HOPE (Honest, Orderly, Peaceful Elections). PCEC recognizes the sacredness and the significance of even one vote, and call on everyone to have the mindset that even one vote can help change the nation if we vote responsibly. If 67 million Filipino voters stand up for their sacred vote, it would be enough to change our nation. Enlightened and empowered voters are God’s instruments for choosing leaders that will bring Good Governance.
It is important that we ensure the eligibility of the candidates we vote for, to avoid national consequences. PCEC urges the people to use the “5 K” criteria in choosing a right leader:
- Kakayahan (Ability to Govern) – They must have the ability to lead. They should be open to changes, and push for them when necessary. (Exodus 18:21 – “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens”).
- Karanasan (Experience in Governance) – They should have a good track record in leadership and governance (Proverbs 12:24 – “The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor”).
- Kongkretong Plataporma (Platform of Governance Programs) – They should be clear with their platforms and have a solid stand on issues concerning their area of jurisdiction (Proverbs 29:18 – Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.).
- Karakter (Character as a Leader) – They should have humility and integrity, prioritizing the welfare of the people (Matt. 7:16-18 – “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit”).
- Koneksyon – They should have trustworthy connections. Do they have the right people they connect with? (1 Cor. 15:33 – “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals”).
Sources / Recommended Readings:
- Five Views on the Church and Politics | Amy E. Black and Stanley N. Gundry
- Christians and Politics: Uneasy Partners | Philip Yancey
- When Christians Disagree in Politics | Michael Cariño
- Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian’s Guide to Engaging Politics | Eugene Cho
- 4 Rules for The Way Christians Engage in Politics | Jordan Wootten,
- How Should Christian Communicators Engage with Politics | Joshua Martin
- 6 Ways Believers Can Respectfully Engage in Politics |Alyssa Mendez and Richard Blatz
- Why Hatred and ‘Othering’ of Political Foes Has Spiked to Extreme Levels | Christie Aschwanden
- The Politics of Common Ground | Jude Acidre
- The Messiness of Democracy | Jude Acidre
 Christie Aschwanden, “Why Hatred and ‘Othering’ of Political Foes Has Spiked to Extreme Levels”, article online: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-hatred-and-othering-of-political-foes-has-spiked-to-extreme-levels/