In today’s world, few topics ignite as much debate and division as politics. This holds especially true in intergenerational conversations. While it’s commonly assumed that Gen Z leans heavily towards liberalism, the reality is more nuanced.
Is Gen Z more Conservative or Liberal?
A survey conducted by Monitoring the Future reveals intriguing insights. For instance, 12th-grade boys in Gen Z are nearly twice as likely to identify as conservative compared to liberal, while 12th-grade girls are three times more likely to identify as liberal. Dr. Jean Twenge aptly summarizes this trend: “Among liberals, the future is female. And among conservatives, the future is male.”
This disparity may stem from a desire for personal agency and value alignment with their chosen political party. Liberal politicians are more likely to emphasize the importance of the role that women play in society, and conservative politicians are more likely to emphasize the importance of the role that men play in society.
Delano Squires, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, argues that “traditional notions of masculinity are much more accepted within conservativism,” while feminist values “are clearly one of the driving forces of liberalism.” He goes on to say, “I could see male and female students saying, ‘I’m choosing sides.’ Do you want matriarchy, or do you want patriarchy?”
However, the biggest percentage of 12th graders in this study either identified as “moderate,” said “I don’t know,” or said “none of the above.” And the truth is, for a lot of teens, there’s not much to be impressed about with our current political system.
Another big source of political frustration is what Dr. James Mumford refers to as “package-deal ethics.” This is the idea that people often feel like they have to fully embrace everything a political party stands for and fully reject everything the other party stands for, even if in reality both sides have some good ideas and some bad ideas. The current US political system trains us to primarily categorize and politicize issues as either being “liberal” or “conservative,” which might be “good” or “bad” depending on which side someone is on.
What does the Bible say about politics?
The problem for Christians is that sometimes what God cares about in scripture sounds like what we have been trained to think of as liberal, and other times what God cares about in scripture sounds like what we have been trained to think of as conservative. As the late Dr. Tim Keller put it, “For example, following both the Bible and the early church, Christians should be committed to racial justice and the poor, but also to the understanding that sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family. One of those views seems liberal and the other looks oppressively conservative. The historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.”
Now obviously there are conservatives who care about the poor, liberals who care about the unborn, and so on. Our main point is just that for Christians, if an issue is stereotyped as being “liberal” or “conservative,” our current political system discourages people on the other side from considering it, even if it’s something the Bible clearly talks about.
Furthermore, it encourages us to see the other side not just as misguided, but as diabolically evil. A major problem with this is that good and evil can’t be divided into separate groups, because they’re actually separate parts of every single individual.
As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it in his book The Gulag Archipelago, “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them… But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” Or, as Romans 3:23 puts it, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
In an article called “5 Things That Frustrate Gen Z Christians,” Gen Zer Jacob Murrie wrote this about “when partisan politics reshape faith”: “In the past few years, we have grown increasingly weary of the meshing of politics and the evangelical faith we often see among older believers. This is not because we don’t value many of the same causes; it’s that often our parents and grandparents will question our Christian orthodoxy if we don’t align fully with their political affiliations. When we shift slightly to the right or the left, our faith is often assumed to be endangered… many in my generation do not wish to be identified as conservative or liberal, as much as they want to be identified as Christlike.”
The Bottom Line
What Gen Z is tapping into is the reality that Jesus did not come to help Republicans beat Democrats or Democrats beat Republicans. Jesus came to inaugurate The Kingdom of God—a Kingdom marked by loving God and loving others—by meekness, mercy, peacemaking, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and pursuing Jesus’s definition of righteousness. And in the end, this is the only political affiliation that matters.
At Axis we care about you having great conversations with the next generations on the subjects that matter – even the scary ones, like politics – so here are some questions to help kick off that conversation:
- Why do you think some issues get stereotyped as “liberal” or “conservative”?
- What role do you think Christians should play in society?