The Deceitful Promise of Politics

In Psalm 120:2, we read these words: Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue. When I read these words the other day, my mind immediately leapt to the fact that our country–Canada–is currently in the midst of a federal election campaign. Right now, all of the party leaders are making their rounds and making promises about what they will do if they become Prime Minister (or in Trudeau’s case, continue to be Prime Minister). And we all know what often happens to those promises once a leader gets elected. Lying lips and deceitful tongues, indeed.

But am I suggesting that all of our political party leaders are being intentionally deceitful and are therefore intrinsically untrustworthy? While I think we should always be somewhat distrustful of our political leaders, this is not really what I mean. Rather, I find myself wondering what it says about us that we can sometimes get so emotionally caught up in our political opinions.

The truth is, not one of our political parties–no matter what they say, promise, or claim–has the answer to our societal ills. While each candidate wants our loyalty, none of them actually deserve it. We should only ever give a leader our support tentatively and conditionally. We shouldn’t deceive ourselves into thinking that any given politician or political party can protect us or provide for us. Disagree with me if you like, but I don’t think Christians should be partisan in their politics. While our values may align more closely with this or that political leader, a healthier posture is being able to appreciate that no one party fully lines up with everything we hold to be important. Or that even if I vote for the Conservative Party of Canada, there may be ways I wish they were more like the NDP or the Green Party. At the every least, it’s good that different perspectives are on offer.

When participating in politics, therefore, Christians ought always to bear in mind that our ultimate loyalty is to the Lord of heaven and earth. It is Jesus who is our sovereign and king. We are citizens of a profoundly different kingdom. Power and authority belong to God. Never can any disciple of Jesus conclude that one political party is the political party, the one believers ought to support unequivocally. Such a posture is idolatrous.

So let’s not be deceived, either by the various political candidates or by ourselves. Once again, the psalmist reframes this conversation for us:

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand,
and the rulers conspire together
against the Lord and his Anointed One:
“Let’s tear off their chains
and throw their ropes off of us.”

The one enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord ridicules them.
Then he speaks to them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath:
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”

I will declare the Lord’s decree.
He said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with an iron scepter;
you will shatter them like pottery.”

So now, kings, be wise;
receive instruction, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with reverential awe
and rejoice with trembling.
Pay homage to the Son or he will be angry
and you will perish in your rebellion,
for his anger may ignite at any moment.
All who take refuge in him are happy.

Psalm 2:1-10

2 thoughts on “The Deceitful Promise of Politics

  1. Thanks, Derek, great post. I’ve been meditating on the same issue.
    The Bible has much to say about lips, either deceitful ones, or those of the righteous.
    I found 201 references in 7 different translations. 🤗🌷

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