In the midst of heightened political and racial tension in America, many refer to their faith as a source of hope and direction in uncertain times. Our nation is in need of hope, change, and complete restoration. Social and news media outlets make it apparent that we are living in a great divide.
As many search for hope and change in presidential candidates, there is a consistent theme: Them vs. Us. As each strives to discredit and dismantle the character of the other, the measuring standard is that of Christ. Each of the standing Republican and Democratic presidential candidates claim to be Christians, followers of Christ, yet have very different interpretations of what being a Christian means.
Christianity, Evangelicals, and becoming a “City on a Hill” are used as prongs to swing votes. And as America takes pride in being “one nation under God,” I have one question: How would the Biblical Jesus survive Modern American Politics?
The Biblical Jesus
I use the term “Biblical Jesus” because we all tend to add our personal biases to viewing Jesus. Our ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic status, and religious affiliations filter the lens in which we view Jesus. My goal is to present 3 facts about the person and life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, in hopes to shape our view of the change needed to make America Great (in the eyes of Christ).
The Person of Christ
As Christian candidates and voters, I believe the life of Christ should effect how we vote and view domestic and international affairs. Here are 3 Biblical facts, with Bible references, of the person and life of Christ which many dismiss from the current political conversation:
- Jesus was Conceived to an Unwed Teenage Mother
- Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were Immigrants/Refugees in Egypt while fleeing Herod’s massacre of Hebrew boys
- Jesus is viewed as “Radical” for Standing Against Systemic Injustices
Jesus was conceived to an Unwed Teenage Mother
Sounds scandalous right? We all know and have heard the “Christmas Story” of Jesus’ miraculous virgin birth (Luke 1:26b-33). Jesus was born to Mary, a virgin, yet unwed. Although Joseph goes on to marry his fiancee Mary, she had to consider social humiliation which came with being a single mother. Many would have considered her child illegitimate and accusations of infidelity, could have been punishable by death (Matthew 1:18). Many already have a problem with my reference to Mary, however, her virginity is not my focus, the outside perceptions and assumptions of promiscuity and infidelity are.
Single parenthood is often a topic when discussing underprivileged communities and poverty. “If only women stopped having children out of wed-lock!” Single parenthood is also a topic of discussion in the Pro-life vs. Pro-Choice realm.
So what do we do? Cut funding which supports “life outside of the womb,” provide holistic sex education, support women who choose life, or eliminate any options for women whom become pregnant (because it’s their fault!). When deciding how our nation should support mothers who choose life and motherhood; please consider Jesus’ mother Mary. Yes she had Joseph’s help and yes she was a virgin (I never want to dishonor the importance of her virgin birth, it’s essential to the redemption story). However, as she cared for the life within her, many odds were against her.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were Immigrants/Refugees in Egypt while fleeing Herod’s massacre of Hebrew boys
“An angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying,“Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him.” Matthew 2:13 HCSB
In addition to the “Christmas Story,” many forget how the “Wise Men” neglected to confirm the location of Jesus, and this allowed the family time to escape to Egypt. Jesus’ life was threatened and they found safety and security in a foreign land. Does any of this sound familiar? For many, America is a safe haven and presents opportunity for hope and in some cases, an opportunity to stay alive.
Jesus is viewed as “Radical” for standing against systemic injustices
Jesus is known for overturning tables in the temple for overtaxing the poor and profiteering off the Church (Matthew 21:12). Does any of this sound familiar?
Jesus also stood against the misuse and abuse of the Law. Jesus is a rebel who stands for social justice throughout the Bible. He stands for women, the oppressed, the poor, and the marginalized. He even stands for the proper treatment of those which were guilty of breaking the Law.
For example, the Biblical story of the “Woman Caught in Adultery” (John 8:1-11) reveals Jesus’ desire to stand for the proper treatment and proper implementation of the justice system. The unnamed women was indeed guilty of breaking Jewish Law. Jesus does not deny her guilt (tells her to leave her life of sin), however He steps in when she has not received a proper trial.
According to Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 those caught in adultery were to be punished by death. However a few major requirements were missing.
- Both guilty parties should be brought before the people, not just the woman.
- Allowing the stoning would have violated Roman Law.
- This punishment was rarely carried out because capital punishment required two or three witnesses.
In addition, Jesus knows the Pharisees are attempting to trap him. If He allows the stoning He would be in violation of the Roman law, but if He releases her Jesus could have been accused of disregarding the Law of Moses.
Again, does any of this sound familiar? Today, our nation is torn between grieving the deaths of law enforcement, and the lives of unarmed black men in our country. I can imagine many were torn in Jesus’ day as well: “She broke the law, she must die” or “Jesus is right, where is the man?… where are the witnesses?”
So what would Jesus do? He would stand in the gap. He would stand against an unjust system, and I could imagine Him saying: “Yes she is wrong, but this does not deserve the death penalty. She deserves a proper trial.”
Today, men were guilty of selling loose cigarettes, jaywalking, a broken taillight, and being disrespectful to law enforcement. My question is: Should these crimes be punishable by death? Jesus told the people: “Drop your stones,” is it too far-fetched to imagine Him saying “Don’t Shoot”?
As we think through policies and candidates, can we please consider the person and life of Jesus Christ? For Christians, Jesus is the Savior of the world and a sinless once-and- for-all sacrifice for sins. For others, He is a prophet, and greatest example of human existence. So again, I ask the question: Would Jesus survive in America today?
A child born into less than ideal circumstances, who flees to a foreign land for refuge and security, who stands in protest for the poor and those without a voice. This child, this man, this Jesus. How would He be viewed in American society today?
Would He even be allowed into this country? As a refugee, as a man from a predominately Islamic region of the world, and as a known radical who stands against injustice- Would Jesus be seen as a threat to liberty or seen as the only solution to true liberty and greatness?
Would He be racially profiled (rapist or super-predator), would His parent’s financial status determine His fate, and finally would his death be justified because of the color of his skin or neighborhood He was from (“What good can come from Nazareth” John 1:45)?
These are all questions I would like for us to consider as we approach the polls in November and select our next “Christian Leader” of the United States of America. If the author and finisher of our faith could not thrive and accomplish His mission in our great country, how can anyone truly attempting to follow Him do so?
What’s more important- God over GOP, Principles over Party, Faith in Jesus Christ over “Two Corinthians Faith”?
As we all have a voice in selecting the next leader whom will shape the future of our country; I pray you consider the Biblical Jesus, whom died for your sins, yet would have difficulty navigating through today’s American culture. If it would be difficult for Him, can you imagine how difficult it is for those whom are not “Divine”?
I have much to think about! What about you?
-Ta’Tyana Leonard, MA
Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer, church, and family (yes, even my family may disagree with me).