A lot of well-meaning Christians like to point out how Americans make Idols out of many things. At times, it can seem to be a bit much to say that television, food, work, our cars, or anything and everything has become an idol to us. Their reasoning goes that anything we love more than God is an idol.
Americans do tend to love their material possessions as well as other things that give them comfort. I don’t know if an idol has to be something we worship or if it can just be something we put above our Creator. Both situations are dangerous and neither are good for us. Unfortunately, many Americans today have placed their faith, hope, and earthly salvation in politicians.
For many, President Trump has become the epitome of such modern idols.
There was a video shown recently at Trump’s resort that took a scene from a violent Hollywood film where a man went on a murderous rampage, replacing the man’s face with an image of Trump and all of the victims’ faces with images of his political opponents. It got a lot of attention for its barbarism and poor taste, but what many seem to miss is that a lot people saw this as a picture of Trump as their warrior God — coming to kick butt and set things right in the world.
If that doesn’t make Trump an idol for such people, I don’t know what else would qualify in our modern times.
For some conservatives and other right-leaning Americans, the Republican party has also become an idol that must be supported no matter how terrible and ineffective it has become. Using binary logic, they repeat the tired, old argument that Republicans are better than Democrats because they are lesser of two evils.
Why do they put their faith in a political party as if there are only two evil choices to choose from? It’s because they have made our whole form of self-governance into an idol; they believe that there’s no way for us to save ourselves outside of the political process. Not voting for one of the two major political parties is essentially seen as heresy by our modern culture.
Another part of the problem is that people who should know better have convinced themselves that Scripture says God helps those who help themselves, even though such a verse is neither directly, nor in any implied manner, found anywhere in the Bible. Sure, we need to make daily decisions and live in the world as it is, but we also need to uphold biblical principles and pray without ceasing. That doesn’t mean we pray about having an apple or an orange for lunch; neither does it mean we abandon our faith in God’s protection and direction for our lives in favor of the voting booth.
Since God is in control, if he lets something happen that we don’t like, we don’t use that as an excuse to vote for the lesser of two evils under the mistaken belief that it will save us from Democrats or anyone else. Voting alone doesn’t make the difference, and even though it’s appropriate to do so, it’s not a commandment given by God. In fact, voting can go directly against God’s will if we do so to make what seems like practical, but only slightly, evil choices.
Even if you don’t believe a particular politician is evil, supporting him/her when you know he/she will do things and support things that are obviously immoral is evil. This doesn’t mean you can’t vote; we’re all humans and we’re all sinners. But it does mean you shouldn’t vote for politicians who knowingly do immoral things beyond the occasional stumbling we all deal with.
Scripture tells us that it is God that exalts, and it is God that puts down. This means God is in control and has plans that are higher than ours. That doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility concerning politics, but it does, I believe, absolve us when an evil ruler comes to power because we refused to vote for the person who was marketed as the lesser of the two evils.
When we put our faith in such people and the two-party duopoly they control, we are guilty of treating them as if they are infallible. God alone is infallible, so we need to put our faith in Him . . . and not politicians or other American idols.
This is an edited version of Larry’s article. You can read the complete, unedited article here: Pop Culture Theology
Larry Amon is President of Christian Walk Alive. His website, Pop Culture Theology, is a blog dedicated to looking at modern culture and exploring why and how things work the way they do in our society. He covers topics such as film, television, politics, sports and other forms of media and entertainment from a biblical worldview.
Follow him on Twitter @PopC_Theology