Recently I read an article that claimed a person couldn’t possibly be a professing evangelical Christian and vote for Donald Trump. It laid out the case against Trump as a madman and liar who doesn’t really have a faith at all.
Not long afterward I read a post that purported if you plan to vote for Hillary Clinton then there is no way you can be a real Christian. As both a blogger and a Christian, I come across a lot of opinions about how Christians should be and think and vote. It seems like people are always asking where the line should be.
Can you be gay and Christian? Can you be Jewish and Christian? Can you be pro-choice and Christian? Can you be a Democrat and Christian? What are the limits of faith? What are the boundaries that you simply cannot cross and still call yourself a follower of Jesus?
The only real and reliable source on this is the Bible itself. When I read through my Bible I see very little about the “rules” of being a Christian. In the New Testament especially there are a lot of dos but few don’ts. Do treat your neighbor the way you would wish to be treated, do love the Lord with all your heart, do turn the other cheek, do be patient and kind and honest.
How About We Ask God to Define His Own Thing
It’s also pretty clear what the parameters are for loving the Lord and calling yourself his follower. If we take the Bible at its word, and God at his word, the requirements for being a Christian are fairly simple.
Galations 3:22. “But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”
John 1:12-13. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
John 3:16-18. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Mark 16:16. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
There are a hundred more verses just like these, but the point remains the same. If you believe Jesus Christ is the living Messiah and was sent to lead us back into relationship with Jehovah, than you are a Christian. If you believe the only remedy for sin is the blood of Jesus, you are a Christian. If you believe God has created you to be an adopted son or daughter and partake in his blessings through the mystery of Jesus Christ, you are a Christian.
Christianity Is About What Jesus Did, Not What We Do
It’s important to note that while the Bible is clear about the “standards” of believing, that isn’t to say there is no accountability. Can you be an alcoholic and a Christian? Sure. Lots of people are. A popular saying in Christian circles is “Church is a hospital for sinners.” There are lots of broken, struggling people within the church body. Mostly everyone, to be honest.
You can be a liar and still believe Jesus died for your sins. It’s not that those two things can’t go together, but if you choose to continually live in your sin while unrepentant, that will have different consequences for your spiritual health and how you influence others.
In my younger days I was a pretty committed progressive socialist and pro-choice to boot. I was also a born-again Christian, a choice I made on my own at the age of 14. I believed in Jesus Christ and in the right to abort a baby in the womb. Many people today aren’t shy about saying you’re not a Christian if you believe in abortion rights, but there’s no way anyone can tell me I didn’t love Christ with my full heart, even as I made poor choices.
We’re all broken people. We all grow and change. We harbor ideas at 18 that we wouldn’t dare entertain at 40. If the legitimacy of our faith is based solely on our opinions—political or otherwise—then is that to say we are always moving in and out of the grace of God? In and out of Christianity? That’s a scary thought, and also completely antithetical to what we just read in Scripture.
The point is: you can be wrong and be a Christian. In fact, the entire reason for Christ’s presence is because we are wrong-headed people. We are also not called to judge what is in another person’s heart. Some Christians may have heard my pro-choice chatter and thought I was a heretic, but truth was (and is) that I was a very passionate follower of Jesus and believed with all my heart that he saved my life. I was also wrong. That’s it. Does God abandon us for being wrong sometimes? If so, we’re all screwed.
So can you be [insert stereotype here] and still be a Christian? Yes. You can be gay or vote for Donald Trump or even be pro-choice and still be a Christian. Faith in Christ is not qualified by anything but faith in Christ. The end.
Let’s stop pontificating about the hearts of those who don’t share our opinions. Render unto Caesar what belongs to him and leave the rest to God.