12 Warning Signs That Politics Are Becoming an Idol

Lisa Loraine Baker

Author of Someplace to Be Somebody
Published Feb 26, 2024
12 Warning Signs That Politics Are Becoming an Idol

An old adage states there are two things a polite conversation never includes—religion and politics. But in the past forty-five years, religion and politics have meshed to the point of syncretism. Political ideals have replaced many Christians’ zeal for the Lord with fervor for a Christian nation via politics. At what point does politics become an idol, and what are the warning signs this is happening?

What Event Spurred Christians to Pay More Attention to Politics?

The Christian Post reports on the Moral Majority, “Founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1979, the Moral Majority advocated for conservative positions on issues like abortion, homosexuality, and school vouchers. It also helped millions of Christians register to vote.” The organization gave rise to the impetus that Christians who engage in politics, both as candidates and supporters, are honoring to God because Christians will bring a moral rightness to a largely secular civil realm.

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a woman voting at a voting booth

Is It Okay for a Christian to Engage in Politics?

There is nothing inherently wrong with a Christian entering the political arena, as long as he or she remembers our first role is ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and as such, our first priority is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To that point, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and political commentator says, “We believe that love of neighbor compels us to be concerned for freedom in every corner of the world. Our concern as Christians should be to see our neighbors saved from an immediate peril that we may have the opportunity to proclaim to them the Gospel so that they might be saved from an ultimate, eternal peril. Like Augustine, it is love of neighbor — rooted finally in love for God — that compels us to want and hope and pray for the good of our society.”

There is no doubt a Christian in a position of influence could be a good thing. The problem is our natural sin nature which leads people to prideful arrogance instead of humility. Humility is key for any Christian as we submit to the Lord’s authority over the government in our lives.

Even King Hezekiah fell victim to pride. The Bible says he, “trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses” (2 Kings 18:5-6). Later, King Hezekiah, however, displayed all “his” treasures to the Assyrian envoys who desired to overthrow Judah (2 Kings 18-20). Even after the Lord heard his prayer and bestowed fifteen more years of life to him, Hezekiah was relieved the prophesied trouble would not befall the nation until after his death. That was like saying, “Well, at least I won’t have to endure it.”

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Microphone in front of a blurry crowd of people, at a rally

12 Warning Signs Politics Are Becoming an Idol

Knowing we can become involved in politics is freeing, yet fraught with problems. A person may have good intentions at the beginning of their quest to “make a difference” through a political role, but allowing politics to become an idol may overshadow any of the good that was done.

An idol is defined as anything which diverts or otherwise steals one’s attention away from the Lord God. Regarding such an entity as politics, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines an idol as, “Any thing on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment.” The Bible is clear, “I am the LORD; that is My name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8).

Following are twelve warning signs politics are becoming an idol:

1. Political Issues Take Precedence over Time in God’s Word

If a person answers a question about missed time in the Bible like this: “But I have to watch the replay of the debate between the candidates! I missed it live because I was at a rally for candidate X.” 

An exclamation such as this reveals an improper priority. The Bible says this about the church in Berea, “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:11). Scripture reading must take precedence over politics.

2. Pushing Church Leaders to Promote Certain Candidates or Issues

Instead of asking or encouraging your pastor about his recent sermon, you regularly show up with a pile of flyers advocating for a political candidate or ballot issue.

All Christians are to seek the things which are above and to set our minds on heavenly things which come from God and not men (Colossians 3:1-3). Having all of your concentration focused on politics renders the Gospel inert in your life.

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Man staring at his TV screen, unhealthy addiction

3. Spending Too Much Time Focused on the News

If you are spending most of your time watching the latest news about what’s going on in Washington or other world capitals, then politics may be becoming an idol in your life.

2 Timothy 2:1-5 reminds us that as “good soldiers of Jesus Christ,” we are not to get, “entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the One who enlisted him.”

4. Unproductive Conversations

Do your conversations swirl around politics, or about the Gospel and what God is doing in your life?

The Apostle Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16). Proclaiming what was entrusted to him was his charge and duty (2 Timothy 1:12).

5. Prioritizing Activism over the Church

Is a political rally/meeting/parade more important to you than Sunday worship, prayer meetings, or a church event?

Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to us. Keep the main thing the main thing.

6. Frustration with Church Leadership

If your pastor doesn’t mention a pressing national or political issue (a good happening or a wrong action), you get upset and speak your mind to him. 

Your pastor knows 1 Corinthians 9:16. He understand the weight of preaching the Gospel and the woe if he doesn’t preach the Gospel and spends his time speaking on worldly affairs instead. The Gospel is the only means of salvation to a lost and dying world.

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Close-up of a cell phone browsing Facebook

7. Social Media

If you hold a position of authority within your church or among the body of believers, how are you using your social media account? If your top priority is pushing your political opinions on your church’s audience, then it may be becoming an idol. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

8. Only One Way

Believing that only your chosen candidate or party is the right one is an outright statement of a haughty spirit. Proverbs 16:18 states destruction follows pride.

9. Attacking Others

Politics may be an idol for you if you find yourself attacking the politically ignorant or the candidate or members of a different party. Romans 12:18 puts a halt to a contentious spirit, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

10. Misplaced Pride

There is great pride in saying, “I helped change things,” thinking you can hurry the kingdom come by helping create a “Christian nation.”

The only Christian nation is that which is in Christ and is now within each believer. We can no more bring about a Christian nation than a camel go through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24). No one can change or hinder Christ’s return based on works of men. God’s timing is perfect (2 Peter 3:8-9).

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man yelling through bullhorn

11. Pushing Politics, not Evangelism

Kingdom work is thwarted and subverted by politics over evangelism — a distraction to keep Christians from focusing on spreading the Gospel. 

Hebrews 12:1-2 speaks of all who have gone before us, all who have kept the faith. And no one greater than the Lord Jesus Christ, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

12. Feeling Hopeless

When the political situation has you feeling hopeless, believe it or not, this may be a sign of a growing idol. This world can seem overwhelming with its problems, but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar in your personal life or in the life of a family member or fellow church member? It’s a presidential election year. Where will you find your focus? On God’s sovereignty? Or will you be like one whom the psalmist points to in Psalm 20:7a, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses”?

Instead, be like the person in Psalm 20:7b, “but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” In other words, will you trust in God or in men? As we prepare to vote, remember to pray for God’s will to be done and for Him to be glorified.

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Lisa Baker 1200x1200Lisa Loraine Baker is the multiple award-winning author of Someplace to be Somebody. She writes fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing for the Salem Web Network, Lisa serves as a Word Weavers’ mentor and is part of a critique group. She also is a member of BRRC. Lisa and her husband, Stephen, a pastor, live in a small Ohio village with their crazy cat, Lewis. 

Originally published Thursday, 16 May 2024.