Stephen Mattson is the author of the social justice devotional On Love and Mercy: A Social Justice Devotional. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenMattson_) or on Facebook.

Posts By This Author

The Idolatry of Loving Nation More Than Neighbors

by Stephen Mattson 10-21-2021

A man wearing a homemade raccoon hat at the Justice for J6 rally hosted by Look Ahead America at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 18, 2021.Photo by Allison Bailey/NurPhoto

As Christians, we are citizens of the kingdom of God. But a common roadblock to dedicating our lives to the kingdom of God by loving our neighbors to the best of our ability is the temptation to allow our allegiance to the country in which we live supersede our allegiance to the kingdom of God — to succumb to nationalism.

Why Democratic Socialism Isn’t Anti-Christian

by Stephen Mattson 04-13-2021

If you’ve heard white evangelical pundits lately, you’ll know there’s a dangerous “new” enemy threatening U.S. Christianity. If left unchecked, they say, this enemy will wreak havoc on traditional values and transform our entire nation into atheists. What is this growing enemy of evangelicals? Democratic socialism.

Christian Nationalism Is Alive and Well in America

by Stephen Mattson 10-22-2020

On Sunday, President Donald Trump joined a Las Vegas church service where a pastor pronounced that God told her Trump would receive a “second wind” and introduced the president against the backdrop of dancers waving American flags with the Statue of Liberty on them. On Tuesday, televangelist Pat Robertson said God told him Trump would win re-election, and it would set off a series of events ushering in the End Times.

The Illogical Love of Jesus

by Stephen Mattson 01-15-2020

For American Christians, our neighbors include — but aren’t limited to—Immigrants, both undocumented and documented, refugees, the sick, the poor, the oppressed, Iranians, Syrians, Afghanis, Yemeni, and everyone else. These neighbors are Christian and non-Christian alike, American and non-American, and there’s no exceptions based on nationality, race, creed, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or gender expression.

Misusing Romans 13 to Embrace Theocracy

by Stephen Mattson 12-10-2019

Partisans use Romans 13 to baptize their politics as being “ordained by God.” But Christians who reference Romans 13 typically do so using an us vs. government relationship. But unlike the first century when Roman rulers were mainly determined by heredity, lineage, or brute force, today we are the government. There is no us vs. them because we play an active role in how our government works and is run.

Christ-Like Love Is the Antidote to the Sins of Christendom

by Stephen Mattson 10-31-2019

Photo by T. Chick McClure on Unsplash

Jesus’ love in action is clearly documented in the New Testament, providing us with a clear script to follow. Unfortunately, his “love-your-neighbor-as-yourself” way of living is contradictory to the cultural norms of craving power and security above all else. To follow Jesus means making — and staying loyal to — an allegiance to the kingdom of God rather than the kingdoms of men.

Racism Isn't a Partisan Issue. It Is Sin

by Stephen Mattson 07-22-2019

Two people hug at the site where Heather Heyer was killed on the one-year anniversary of the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The president has used racism to spread his political agenda, and American Christendom has been an eager participant.

The False and Idolatrous Narrative of 'American Christianity'

by Stephen Mattson 05-13-2019

Hate and racism were so embedded within this religion that the KKK was marketed as a Christian institution, and segregation was endorsed by countless white pastors and their congregations. It’s still so prevalent within white Christianity today that many still refuse to acknowledge systemic racism as a problem. They happily support a president who continually spews racist and xenophobic vitriol, and support policies that continue to be racist and evil.

Not Everything 'Biblical' Is Christlike

by Stephen Mattson 02-27-2019

The semantics are important to understand because the different terms present two completely contrasting paradigms. One is based on textual interpretations and opinions, while the other is founded upon the words and actions of the living savior of the world. If you’re a Christian, you should always err on the side of Jesus. But if we’re not careful, it’s easy to idolize the bible while simultaneously ignoring the very message of Christ.

White Christian Nationalism — Not Secularism — Is Destroying America

by Stephen Mattson 02-04-2019

Image via Shutterstock/ Evan Al-Amin

American Christianity brought us to this point. It preached nationalism and sanctified American imperialism — promoting Manifest Destiny as ordained by God. The prosperity gospel baptized capitalistic greed, it’s preachers vilified the poor, and it’s theologians manipulated scripture to rationalize global colonialism. Salvation was no longer personified through Jesus, but was redesigned to be a political machine, fueled by its ability to control branches of government. This methodology was packaged as “Christianity,” and the gospel became a message of gaining social power and control rather than a call to follow Jesus’ life of selfless service and sacrifice.

Pursuing Justice as an Act of Worship

by Stephen Mattson 01-16-2019

Photo by Bogdan Yukhymchuk on Unsplash

God's justice is divine, meant to benefit everyone created in God's divine image. It’s not dictated by man-made laws, branches of government, political parties, lobbyists, or authoritarian officials. It's not biased towards the wealthy or powerful, and cannot be bought by high-priced lawyers. It's not fueled by populist opinions or partisan rage, and isn’t facilitated through broken systems and institutions. Instead, God’s justice is holy and unblemished, eternally seeking to free the enslaved, empower the downtrodden, and bring judgement upon the oppressors.

Stop Glorifying Christendom and Follow Christ Instead

by Stephen Mattson 12-13-2018

Anything can label itself as being “Christian,” so we must always look to the person of Christ to guide us, because he already laid out a life for us that perfectly reflects what it means to be God incarnate on earth. Christ is everything.

We Have Reached the Border, And There is No One To Help

by Stephen Mattson 11-30-2018
A retelling of Psalm 22

Image via REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Roaring lions that tear their prey, open their mouths wide against us. They beat us, arrest us, incarcerate us, shoot us, then blame us. We are poured out like water, and all our bones are out of joint. Our hearts have turned to wax; they have melted within us.

No, Christians Aren't Inherently 'Better.' Thinking So Is Downright Dangerous

by Stephen Mattson 11-27-2018

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

As a religion consisting of millions of voters, venerable institutions, and large organizations, Christianity is often viewed by governments and politicians as a tool to influence and manipulate. Spiritual jargon is used to lobby segments of Christians to support various agendas, often under the pretense of being “Biblical” and “Godly.” This is how faith becomes co-opted to transform into something it was never meant to be: a way to obtain votes, a method for fueling populist rage, or grounds for implementing oppressive social structures.

The Bible's Purpose Is to Discover and Fall in Love with Jesus

by Stephen Mattson 11-21-2018

Christians can overemphasize the importance of the Bible and underemphasize the life of Jesus. Thus, when people advocate for Christ-like things like helping immigrants, providing safety for refugees, empowering the oppressed, and loving others as we wish to be loved, Christians passionately refute such things — using the Bible. They spout verses and use pseudo theology to discredit the actions that are the most Christ-like —all under the guise of “Biblical Christianity.”

The White Church Has Been a Steady Oppressor

by Stephen Mattson 10-17-2018

Image via eberhard grossgasteiger/Unsplash

White Christians benefit the most by being nationalistic and patriotic, because to do so upholds the methods of “law” that keep their societal privileges in place. So while America — it’s governmental machinations and economy — serves to continually bless and protect white Americans, it hasn’t done so for others. Incarceration rates, a vast history of enforced racism by the legislative, judicial, and justice branches of government, the mistreatment of people of color within the military, and the brutalization by police show just how one-sided our country has benefited particular groups of people because of race. As white Christians blissfully sing ‘God Bless America’ in their sanctuaries adorned with American flags, they look upon their country — and its many structures — with nostalgic pride, while others see betrayal, hurt, and suffering.

I'm Ashamed of Christianity, But Never of Christ

by Stephen Mattson 10-02-2018

Christianity transformed from a faith reliant on Jesus to a civic religion obsessed with obtaining partisan power. This co-opting of Jesus — manipulating His gospel of love and redemption to fit the narrative of an expanding American empire, specifically to maintain the colonial stronghold of white supremacy — fits a historical pattern.

The Church Must Listen to Women

by Stephen Mattson 09-28-2018

Christian leaders, on the whole, have failed to address the abuse and assault experienced by more than half of all Christian believers. When was the last time your congregation dedicated a sermon or service to sexual harassment, assault, and abuse? If you are fortunate enough to have experienced such a service, you’re the exception to the rule. Despite attending all sorts of churches within a variety of denominations and despite sitting through countless sermons, I have not once heard violence against women addressed in any significant capacity. I’ve heard homilies on the Leviathan, the Nephilim, and the dimensions of Noah’s ark. I have not heard a single sermon confronting a problem that affects nearly every woman in every congregation, and around the world

Social Justice Is a Form of Worshipping God

by Stephen Mattson 07-27-2018

Photo by Jovi Waqa on Unsplash.

Few things are more holy or worshipful than helping others and working towards providing humanity with justice, peace, reconciliation, equity, safety, and empowerment.

American Christianity Has Become an Institution of Intolerance

by Stephen Mattson 07-03-2018

But once back in America, these very same Christians will adamantly oppose having “foreigners” as neighbors, loathing the idea that they could possibly be allowed to cross into the border of the United States seeking a better life. So while they post pictures on social media of themselves surrounded by poor children and holding babies they personally cared for, they’ll post nothing about the children and babies being separated from their parents at the border.