I recently asked my followers on Twitter who else considers themselves theologically conservative and politically progressive. The number of people who identify this way is validating. Typically, we expect people to believe and act like single tickets all the way down: theological conservatism equals political conservatism, and likewise for more liberal Christians.
I have never fit neatly in either paradigm.
In calling myself “theologically conservative,” I am basically saying that I affirm the Apostles’ Creed as a non-negotiable description of building blocks that are the heart of the Christian faith: the omnipotence of God, the brokenness of humanity, the need for restoration and redemption, and Jesus’ virgin birth, death, and physical resurrection.
But I tend not to feel politically aligned with other Christians who affirm this creed. I am increasingly turned off by groups that are better known by what they stand against (gay marriage and abortion, in particular) than by what they actually support. I am drawn more to the political groups that are interested in lifting up the marginalized, but theologically speaking, these groups tend to be made up of people who affirm a universalist mindset.
Knowing what I know about Jesus, I’m not fully at home there either.
I wonder if I’ll always feel like something of a spiritual and political unicorn. I can never make both sides happy, not that I’ve ever really tried. But this “one foot in both worlds” kind of life can present something of a challenge when it comes to simply making friends. This could just be my anxiety talking, but I tend to feel like I’m always regarded with a degree of suspicion because I essentially work for “both sides.”
Is this a contradictory way to live? I’m not sure, but Jesus didn’t live with the binary of a two-party system. He preached a way that is much more complicated: picking up your cross and loving your neighbor.
Here’s the thing, though: the way that Christians have historically defined the gospel is how I live my life. It’s never been trendy, it’s never been convenient, but I am confident in making decisions that are guided by this truth. This doesn’t mean that every candidate I vote for, or every issue I endorse, will necessarily be the “right” one. I will never say that “real Christians” are either Republican or Democrat.
I believe “real Christians” will vote with their feet, their wallets, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This may look different for every believer, but it is nonetheless our driving force. It is the stance of the heart that matters more than the specific mark on the ballot.