Monday, June 09, 2008

A better way of doing politics

With the possible exception of the war in Iraq, abortion and homosexual rights issues are foremost in the minds of many conservative Christians as we approach the November election. In general, Republicans claim to be against abortion and the expansion of homosexual rights to include marriage. In general, Democrats are in favor of abortion and homosexual rights, though it’s not clear how strongly they are in favor of homosexual marriage. It would seem, therefore, if we want to change the moral direction in which this country is headed, the Republican candidate, John McCain, would be the obvious choice of Bible-believing Christians.

Yet, how do we know that a Republican President would bring about the moral improvements we seek? Have the nearly eight years of Republican leadership under President Bush brought about the moral renewal we’ve sought? Did the twelve years of Presidents Reagan and G.H.W. Bush (1981-1993) change the moral direction of this country?

Wouldn’t it be so much better for Christians to pray, share our Christian witness, and engage in dialogue and charitable debate with our political opponents, trusting God to change their hearts and minds so that real and lasting change can come to this country? Is it wise for us to continue to use political force to make people do what they are unwilling to do? Grandma used to say, “A fool convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” That’s true! Political force will not produce a change of heart. Honestly, what has all the Christian conservative political activism of the last 30 years (The “Moral Majority”, “Christian Coalition”, “Christian Right”, etc.) actually accomplished for this county? Has our political activism brought about spiritual revival?

So, again I ask, wouldn’t it be much better and more effective for Christians to do those things that, by God’s grace, will bring about heart change, rather than battle with our opponents in the political arena? Perhaps, the “Christian Right” has been going about this the wrong way. Here’s what the apostle Paul said:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

It seems to me that conservative Christians, over the last 30 years or so, have resorted, more often than not, to fighting the moral battles in this country “according to the flesh”. Maybe that’s why we’re getting nowhere. This country continues on a moral decline. What we need to realize is we’re fighting a spiritual battle. Our enemies are not the Democrats (or Republicans), liberals, homosexuals or “abortionists”. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Why demonize those who are pro-abortion or pro-homosexuality? Scripture states that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4), therefore, shouting at those with whom we disagree won’t change their minds one iota.

Not only that, but while we attack abortion and homosexuality, we conservative Christians here in the United States tend to ignore evils such as the insidious racism in this country (a lot of which, lately, has been directed at Sen. Obama, in my opinion), the irrational xenophobia directed at illegal immigrants, the inadequate funding of the public schools in some of our poorest communities, and the war we’ve waged against the country of Iraq, even though they didn’t have “weapons of mass destruction” after all (someone, somewhere, lied). Some of us have even participated or rejoiced in these evils. Our hypocrisy does not go unnoticed by the world. We can’t continue to act as if abortion or homosexuality are the only—or most important—issues in this country.

I think there is a much better, more Christian, way of doing politics:

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

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