I grew up in Temecula, a city in California that's fairly diverse in terms of political beliefs considering the state it resides in. You'll find a lot more conservatives here than you would in Westwood, and I grew up in conservative communities because I grew up a Christian going to church.
As I got older, I started to form my own beliefs. My political beliefs aligned more with liberal ideas, but this was something I largely hid from people at church, save for the few who had similar views.
It's not something that bothered me at first. I loved my church, and I was firm in both my faith and my political beliefs. But seeing the animosity between liberals and conservatives made me doubt that both of my beliefs could coexist.
Most of the Christians I knew were conservative, and a lot of questions were swirling around in my head. Were my beliefs wrong or sinful towards God? Would I ever be close to people who have different political beliefs?
After years of wrestling with my beliefs, praying to God, reading the Bible and talking to other Christians, I came to reconcile my faith and my political stance. I was reminded that the Christian community is a diverse body of people united by a love for God and for other people and that a difference in political belief shouldn't matter.
I also came to realize that the God I believe in doesn't belong to any political party. Being liberal doesn't make me less Christian. What matters most is that I make choices that honor God and extend love to other people. For me, this has led me to align with more liberal beliefs, especially in the sphere of social politics.
Of course, I can't ignore the fact that there are Christians who have harmful beliefs and sow division, but I've decided that I won't let imperfect people shake my faith in a perfect God. Extreme beliefs that hurt others need to be called out, but a simple difference in opinion isn't something that should tear a church community apart.
If any of you are like me, I hope you know that you can have liberal beliefs and be a Christian. At the end of the day, we're called to show everyone love regardless of our differences. Seeing people of various personalities, backgrounds and appearances come together as a single body is one reason why I fell in love with the church, and politics shouldn't change this.