For the Bride: Partisanship

I believe historians may look at our generation and name partisanship as the largest contributive factor to our local/global gridlock.  Whether in civic or eccesial societies, our inability/unwillingness to get together has all but killed our ability to come together.

I personally believe partisanship is a manifestation of the “darkened mind” which Paul says happens whenever idolatry (self-glorification instead of God-glorification) takes over.  Partisanship is the contemporary term for what the Bible calls haughtiness, and Scripture is clear that this spirit is sinful, and that it prevents us from being part of God’s Kingdom.

In his list of evidence that we are living in the flesh rather than in the Spirit, Paul includes “group rivalry” among other things (Galatians 6:20 CEB). There is no way for us to justify contentiousness or judgmentalism. Partisanship is antithetical to the will and way of God.

Partisanship is found when winning is paramount and where procedures are in place for determining who is in and who is out.  And when that outcome is couched in language of righteousness and unrighteousness, partisanship will endorse whatever it takes to be victorious “in Jesus’ name.”

Partisanship is egotisim existing within a system where what should have been conversation becomes contentiousness–where compromise that could lead us to a better place is declared to be dangerous–where what might have been sharing deteriorates into shunning. Partisanship uses battle imagery, justifying warfare because the cause is worth it.

Partisanship undermines the fruit of the Spirit, replacing it with opposite attitudes and actions that leave us praying “God, I thank you that I am not like other people,” when the truth is, we are exactly like them.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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