I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States.” Those were Democratic Party President-Elect Joe Biden’s words on November 8, 2020, after securing 270 electoral votes.
After four years of bitter political fighting within the United States which saw division in public opinion and political action on issues like gun control, Black Lives Matter and Covid-19, Biden is charged with the hefty task of leading a divided nation forward. Many people around the world watched his inauguration curious to see how he will unite a political left and right that seem destined to move farther apart.
Polarity is defined as the division between two groups. It’s absolutism between opposing ideas that are not magnetic, but rather repellent. A heated discussion in my own household raged one night in the midst of the United States presidential election. A sight to behold: an Australian dinner table discussion involving strong views on two different sides of American Politics.
One side asserted that the United States economy was booming under President Trump and that the coronavirus pandemic’s death toll—235,000 stateside at the time—was unavoidable due to Americans’ “cultural stubbornness” rather than leadership’s mishandling of the crisis. The other side rebutted that the economy was at its lowest point in years, and simple enforced measures like mask-wearing would’ve potentially saved up to 100,000 lives.
With both parties unable to find common ground, the discussion ended without compromise. What was clear however, was that although thousands of kilometres away, people paid attention to the leader of the United States and that the public policy issues and rhetoric coming out of Washington, DC —which influence international relations, trades and alliances—matter for everyone.
This isn’t to say that Donald Trump’s presidency is the first to invoke strong feelings in voters. America and many other democratic countries with similar political systems have usually had the wide political spectrum narrowed down to two political parties vying for the ballot paper tick. In America, it’s the Republican Party and the Democrats, while in Australia it’s the Liberal Party and Labor. But the existence of a two-party system that is causing this political polarisation. It’s the manner in which those two sides fail to agree on key policy issues that has political scientists and social commentators concerned that the world is heading into uncertain waters.
In fact, a 2020 study by psychologists Gordon Heltzel and Kristin Laurin found 90 per cent of American citizens were worried about the country’s political division, and 60 per cent felt it was unlikely the issue could be fixed. Additionally, unfavourable feelings towards the opposing political views has tripled since 1994. Partisan identity politics have only become more pronounced in recent years, with many sticking to party lines on important issues and increasing the partisanship present in political discourse.
Heltzel and Laurin state that “polarised citizens more often vote, protest, and join political movements, all of which are necessary for functioning democracy”. However, this also leads to confirmation bias: “Americans have trouble critically evaluating the flaws and merits of policies. Instead, they seek information that confirms their partisan preferences and disregard facts that counter them.” Voters tend to surround themselves with an echo chamber on social media – one which ultimately increases partisan divides and political gridlock.
But while statements like “You’re either with us, or you’re not” negate the grey area of swing voting and key electorates that has often determined the outcome of elections, there is coming a time when all humans on earth will need to make a stand for one of two sides.
Earth’s history has plenty of examples where people have been divided into two groups, but the Bible states it first began before Earth was even created. Lucifer (later called the “dragon”), the most beautiful and gifted angel in heaven chose disobedience towards God, creating division between angels in heaven. As a result, “war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough and they lost their place in heaven” (Revelation 12:7,8). This explains Satan’s presence in the Garden of Eden where he tempted Adam and Eve with a fruit; an act that Christians believe introduced sin and suffering into the world.
Since then, the Bible says amidst all the various social, political and economic opinions that are being debated—and sometimes fought over—by millions of people around the world, ultimately all humans will be presented with a choice between allegiance to those two spiritual parties: Jesus Christ or Satan.
At the close of earth’s history, on one side there will be those who have received the Seal of God; people who have expressed loyalty and commitment to Christ. Interestingly, the other side isn’t necessarily comprised of those who have chosen Satan, but instead everyone who has rejected God, whether it be publicly, through their actions or in their hearts.
Jesus Himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). What’s important to God is allegiance; and while God’s followers worship Him, choosing not to worship God is described as choosing His adversary.
In the final chapters of earth’s history, Jesus spoke of the increased polarisation that will occur as spiritual forces vie for the allegiance of every human on earth. “At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people” (Matthew 24:10,11).
In that time, the Bible describes a period where people still have the chance to choose and make a stand. After a certain point, known as “the close of probation”, two camps of people will be left. Those who had chosen God (either dead or alive) will be taken to heaven, while the rest who had consciously rejected God are destined for destruction by hellfire. Instead, they will be “consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur” in what is described as “the second death” (Revelation 21:8). This event, described as the “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41) because of its permanent ramifications will be a singular event rather than an ongoing process after Jesus’ return. Death, as described in Revelation 21, is what will bring an end to the wicked, rather than eternal suffering; which itself is incompatible with the loving nature shown by God even to people who oppose Him.
Your vote matters
Each time the public is called to submit their vote on election day, either by postal vote or in-person, they are siding with a politician who holds great power. That person can shape the course of the world—escalating or cooling international tensions, securing quality of life standards for millions, and deciding on rights to freedom of speech and religious freedom. Everyone on the planet is on a scale with these key issues and more—with their preference greatly influencing who they vote for. But while pledging allegiance to a cause has impact on how life on earth may look, it doesn’t impact the final polarisation that will occur between Jesus Christ’s and Satan’s followers.
In fact, the Bible warns of following those who use the final polarisation as an excuse to gain followers—even if they profess to be chosen by God: “False messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).
But the Bible also assures that “by their fruit you will recognise them” (7:16)—the fruit being “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22,23).
While increasing division in politics is a sign of the times, it brings with it the hope for a future of unity with Jesus Christ in heaven. And while love for the neighbouring man and woman is becoming lost amidst the spite borne from political tension, this can only mean the end is near. Until that time, however, there remains a choice for Christ or His adversary—one that won’t last for four years, but for eternity.
Daniel Kuberek is assistant editor for Signs of the Times magazine. He lives in Sydney, NSW, and enjoys fitness, film-making and the outdoors.