A dear friend from college reached out to me this week. She described herself as an agnostic of the Jesuit tradition. She told me she admired my soul and that she knew me to be a thoughtful and soulful Christ follower. She then in a very gentle and humble way asked me if I thought our current political bent, specifically our president, represented what Christians want and stand for. She genuinely wants to know if we “Christians” believe this is the best representation of our beliefs.
Maybe you find yourself in these awkward conversations as well. I’m not talking about the mean-spirited Facebook clashes of ideologies, but the kind and soulful quest to know and reconcile. This was a person who respects me and is trying to reconcile what is presented in the world. Do I, Jeff Harris, a person who represents Christ to my friend, agree with and believe our current president represents Jesus?
First, I must acknowledge that evangelical political pragmatism (voting for the lesser evil, SCOTUS, or Pro-Life) is rational and plausible in the face of perceived and real affronts to liberty and justice. The fact that many in our country voted in this manner is to say there is a legitimate reason to do so.
Second, we must also acknowledge that to vote in this way is complex and casts a long shadow on otherwise good and noble precepts, especially when the character of the candidate that is deemed the lesser evil is diametrically (through documented words and actions) opposed to Christian character.
Third, in answering my friend and our friends, we must be able to appreciate how difficult it might be for them to reconcile the complex position evangelicals find themselves in.
Finally, for me it is easy to say, “No, I don’t believe our current president represents Jesus!” There is nothing in his character that displays a follower of Christ. Though he professes to be a Christian (and may very well be) he is as Paul said “an infant” in his faith and behavior if he truly believes. He does represent a conservative ideological platform that has historic Christian items some believe tip the balance. However, most folks I know held their noses and said, “Anybody but ‘her.’”
I understand pragmatism, but we must acknowledge it as what it is and not defend and make it something it is not. Selecting the lesser evil does not make for a good or Christian or righteous or just outcome. When the path we have chosen soon diverts from the path of Jesus, we must be the first to stand for justice. It is time we as Christians stop representing candidates and start representing Christ.
My friend is watching me and respectfully trying to understand what I stand for. She knows me and can’t fathom that I am thrown in with those who would support that which doesn’t represent Jesus—and she’s right. It’s my job to say so in a way that is loving and just. It’s time we separate our Christianity from our nationality, and our politics from our pursuit of Jesus.