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What Star Wars Can Teach Us About Christianity and Politics

August 25, 2021

Ah, Star Wars. The franchise that took the world by storm and inspired dazzle-eyed kids, nerdy discussion forums, and of course… quality memes, which I will sneak in throughout this article.

One of my favorite things to analyze within the world of Star Wars is Palpatine’s rise to power in the prequels. He managed to transform the Old Republic into the Empire, causing liberty to die with thunderous applause AND corrupting Anakin Skywalker in the process. 

As it turns out, we as Christians can take some remarkable lessons from analyzing Palpatine’s victory, of all places. A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. While this is a heavily nuanced topic that could be talked about for hours (or paragraphs) on end, allow me to summarize the issue for the sake of your time (and sanity). Essentially, Palpatine took advantage of the corrupted Jedi, who had let their guards down.

Now, the casual Star Wars viewer might be surprised by the idea that the Jedi were corrupt. After all, the Jedi were the good guys, right? Nevertheless, consider what the cause of the Jedi is supposed to be: pursuing the will of the Force and keeping the peace. 

Unfortunately, during the prequel era, the Jedi were growing too focused on politics. They were working together with the Senate and Chancellor Palpatine to essentially run the galaxy. The Jedi were also distracted fighting the fabricated Clone Wars – arguably, the opposite of keeping the peace.

These tasks – while perhaps noble in of themselves – became “idols” for the Jedi, and their arrogance blinded them (Palpatine was right!). He specifically created these issues to distract them in this way, allowing him to seize power and declare how much he loves democracy. The Jedi simply did not see him coming. Perhaps if they had remained true to the Jedi cause and the sensitivities of the Force, they would have. But they allowed the outside issues to consume them.

You may already notice the Christian parallels here. We can become too focused on politics ourselves. It may not necessarily be our nation’s politics; it could be our church’s politics, or the politics of running a business. Or we get caught up in fighting the “Clone Wars” of our lives – arguing about nonessential doctrine with fellow believers, fighting over how a church service should be run, or accusing a friend to be a Sith because he deals in absolutes. The list could go on. As Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn (think green lightsaber from Episode I) said it, “Your focus determines your reality.” 

(By the way, Qui-Gon was one of the only Jedi who was aware of the distraction his kind struggled with. Therefore, he chose not to be on the Council, knowing how misguided they were. While he certainly had flaws, he remained true to his calling – purely pursuing the will of the Force. If Darth Maul had not slain him in Episode I, the saga would have played out very differently… for the better.)

Anakin Skywalker also noticed these flaws within the Jedi. He wasn’t dumb, despite any complaints you may have about Hayden Christiansen’s acting (I honestly didn’t mind it). Palpatine took advantage of Anakin’s doubt, and, with the help of the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise and a strong “DEW IT!”, Palps succeeded in creating Darth Vader. Granted, Anakin did allow this Dark Lord to “twist his mind” until he became the very thing he swore to destroy. His relationship with Padmé contributed as well. Nevertheless, the fact that the Jedi displayed such significant flaws did not help matters. 

Unfortunately, many professing Christians have and are leaving the church due to similar issues. You may know some of these folks yourself: those who felt “turned off” because of unloving treatment by a believer, the usage of dubious doctrine not built on the Word, or – like the Jedi – straying from the purity of living for Jesus and allowing the contamination of the world to leak in.

The apostle Paul, through the Holy Spirit, gave a remarkable command for us believers: “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:8 ESV) 

Let us remain true to our calling, brothers and sisters, and not become overwhelmed with the things of the world. Our eyes can deceive us… don’t trust them! Instead, pour into the Word, pray to your Father, and follow His will. Of course, we will not be perfect on this side of heaven, but we can try our best to be a city on a hill for the glory of God. That fact that Jesus chooses to use us broken vessels is truly remarkable and is an absolute honor. If the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force, the ability of telekinesis and waving laser swords around is insignificant next to the power of our Lord and Savior! 

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)

“Sometimes we must let go of our pride and do what is requested of us.” – Padmé Amidala

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