D. Leiva is the editor of The Body Politic. A former staffer for Republican House Leadership, he now works in international development. D. was born into a family with a rich legacy of full-time ministry.
In my previous post about my time working in Congress, I mentioned that there were times when I thought being a Republican made me a responsible Christian, but over the years several things have happened to me that have shown me otherwise. Let me share two:
Keeping Friends Despite Conversion
First, in the years following my graduation from college, several of my friends converted to Catholicism. Their conversions were shocking to me, having grown up protestant in Catholic-dominated Latin America. However, though my apprehension was real, it was assuaged by my friends’ patient answers to my many questions. Through their loving responses to me, I saw that my friends did not love Christ any less now than they did before. I may still be Protestant and not agree with some of their new beliefs, but their personalities and all the things that I loved about them hadn’t changed. We could continue to not just be friends but good friends!
Differences matter, and they can run deep, but they don’t prevent me from acknowledging the image of God in those with whom I differ.
Keeping Friends Across the Political Divide
Living in DC, working for a member of Congress, paints you in a certain light. Because I worked for a high-ranking conservative in the House of Representatives, it’s pretty clear to many people what my political allegiances are. So, over and over, like a loop played on Vine, I regularly receive anxious confessions from people in my life—housemates, friends whose friendships I enjoy greatly—that they are “liberal.” One friend told me for months that he was an “independent” before eventually telling me that he actually identified as Democrat. When I asked him why he didn’t just tell me the truth, he told me that he didn’t want his party affiliation to get in the way of our friendship!
Last year, The Body Politic's Rick Barry invited me and my (then-fiancee, now) wife over to his house one afternoon. After a couple of hours of mutually enjoying our conversation and each other’s company we started telling campaign war stories. I talked about campaigning for Governor Romney in 2012 and he spoke of the races he worked on and managed in the mid-2000’s for Democrat candidates. That’s when I asked with incredulous surprise: “Wait, you’re a Democrat?!” I followed that up with this nugget: “But you’re so smart, and a Christian! You even worked at Redeemer!” I was mostly jesting, but a part of me was still genuinely surprised.
That’s the beauty of God’s creation, though: We can have consonance in Christ despite our human dissonance. I am reminded of the disagreement the Galatian church had over works or faith in the matter of salvation. Certainly there are times when Republican and Democrat Christians believe that one party will save the country and demonize the other. Paul’s exhortation still rings true for us today, that we are all one in Christ Jesus on whom our salvation depends.
And that is why I wanted to work on this thing with Rick, because we are neither Republican nor Democrat to God. We are his sons, and whether or not we agree on every issue of how to address society’s ills, we should dialogue as brothers first, political identifications second. This, not my political affiliation, makes me a more responsible Christian. We pray that no matter your political affiliation, you find a home and a family with whom to agree or disagree on The Body Politic.