The Pharisaic Party

A primary divide in American politics separates according to perceived goodness. Democrats see themselves as the virtuous ones and charge Republicans with bigotry and hypocrisy. Republicans have a similar but opposite perspective. Both sides claim the mantle of moral superiority but both can’t be right. (Because one of them is left.)

Since the division centers on morality, the best way to determine which side merits the mantle is to go to the source and ground of objective morality —> God. Most Americans would claim to believe either that Jesus Christ is the Son of God or that he was a good, moral teacher. So the record of his interaction with two groups of people similar to America’s left and right should qualify as authoritatively instructive.

Chapter 9 of John’s Gospel records Jesus healing a blind man and being condemned by the Jewish leaders because he did it on the Sabbath, when all “work” was forbidden. The Pharisees saw themselves as uber-virtuous because they knew the law and followed it to the letter, except that their conformity to it was all outward and for show. “They do all their deeds to be seen by others,” according to Jesus. (Virtue-signaling is not just a 21st century thing.) Within,” they were “full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

The healed blind man, on the other hand, was notable not for personal or perceived virtuosity but for humbling himself, doing what Jesus told him to do, and worshiping him as God. He and others who responded to Jesus with humble faith were cured of their blindness, physically and/or spiritually, and received forgiveness of their sins.

So we have the self-righteous Pharisees and the forgiven faithful. In John 9 Jesus distinguishes the two groups by sight…not his sight but theirs. He says, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” The response of the Pharisees to this was to take offense at the implication that they too were blind. But Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

The distinction Jesus is making is between those who admit their need for him and those who don’t. We are all spiritually blind apart from receiving his healing by faith. But the Pharisees, as many on the left today, proudly resisted the notion that they share in the same blindness as those less virtuous, or woke, than they. And Jesus judges their pride and rejection of him by consigning them to continued blindness.

The Pharisees claimed to know God but when he was standing right in front of them they did not recognize him but condemned him as a sinner. Similarly, the Democratic Party claims affinity with God but promotes policies that are clearly in opposition to his revealed will, and some that pose a threat to religious liberty. Many Democrat politicians namedrop Jesus but it’s clear from some of their views that either they willingly oppose him or don’t really know him.

Though there are certainly hypocrites and posers on both sides, it’s the Republican party that unabashedly acknowledges God in its platform, fights for policies that align with his character and commands, and is populated with men and women healed of their spiritual blindness and humbly grateful to God for his salvation.

Today’s virtue-signaling, conservative-condemning leftists are political Pharisees, claiming to be our moral betters and blind to their own hypocrisy. Just like the Jewish Pharisees they cloak themselves in righteousness for their own benefit, while inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.They preen and parade their faux superiority to protect or gain power and influence, and they condemn Christian conservatives for not conforming to their preferred moral code of “Love means never having to say, ‘Don’t do that.’”

Not all Democrats are pharisaical hypocrites, of course, but the ones with the loudest and most critical voices certainly are. If Jesus called out the Pharisees of his day, and proclaimed woe after woe on them for their hypocrisy and willful blindness, his followers are right in calling out the Pharisees of our day. Perhaps some of them will turn from their stubborn refusal to admit that they too “do not see” and receive their sight by obeying and following the Healer. And walk away from the party of the Pharisees and join the party that honors God above all.