Oh, wait… there’s no “a” in Jesus. Well there is in the Hebrew version… Yeshua. There you have it… USA! USA! USA! All joking aside, churches have often confused patriotism and pietism. They are not the same. Perhaps somewhat ironically, I am actually ok with both patriotism (to appropriate degrees) and pietism. Where I get lost is when Christians equate the two.
I think the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades are fair and negative examples of what can happen when we disproportionately blend politics and religion. But unfortunately we do not have to go back hundreds of years to see places where religion got it wrong. Christianity did not do the right thing during the Civil Rights era or its handling of gender issues. Those are just two of many more recent examples where religion struck out in the culture.
So what are the proper proportions of politics and religion? While I acknowledge some slight variance due to personality and calling, I think this line of thinking gets us further down the road than when we avoid the discussion altogether. First off, this is not a math equation and these proportions cannot be graphed or charted.
What percentage of my life is driven by my faith? In my opinion, the answer had better be 100%. If not, I question the strength of the system to which you adhere (or at least your commitment to it). If faith is seen as a mere afterthought or condiment, then how can we expect it to inform any other part of our lives except the spiritual? And I know that’s where it ends for many people. Not for me. I am a Christian first and last. Following Jesus flavors every corner of my life. This doesn’t mean I’m perfect. It doesn’t mean I “do it right”, but it does mean that I cannot disconnect my faith from the other sectors of my life.
What percentage of my life is driven by my politics? Again, this is not a math problem. If you forced me to put it into that framework, I’d say 0%. I am not waiting on any executive or legislative branch to make my life better or worse. They don’t have that power in my life, actually. Further, I do not believe you can legislate morality any more than you can teach a 5′ 5″ guy to dunk a basketball… he just doesn’t have the tools. I do understand that culturally we have assigned some value to the political process and as such, I acknowledge its existence and exercise my right to vote and speak into said process.
Being a Christian and being a patriot will often be at odds with each other. If they are not, you are likely not doing it correctly.