When Christians today lament politics, they usually have in mind partisanship that equates faithfulness with voting for one party over the other. They don't necessarily believe we should abstain from politics altogether and abandon our advocacy for the environment, victims of sex trafficking, and the unborn, to offer just three issues arbitrated in the political sphere. So what if you support traditional marriage but oppose most military interventions overseas? Or oppose abortion and support higher taxes on the rich?
I recently sat down in Washington, D.C., with New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and talked about the apocalyptic and messianic strains in American politics that direct religious energy into partisan identification. It's not enough in our day to disagree. Politicians must become the Great Enemy or Great Deliverer, Messiah or Antichrist. No wonder so many Christians want to swear off politics altogether.
But Douthat explains why withdrawal, while tempting, isn't much of an option for conscience-bound Christians who want to love their neighbors. Drawing on themes of his new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, Douthat cites two examples of politicians worth emulating and offers one practical way Christians can be faithfully political without being fatefully partisan.