Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why Christians Must Be Politically Active

Posted by Farrah

This article sums up what I've been trying to tell Christians for years! Only Star Parker does a much better job of wording it. :-)
Christians face an ongoing paradox regarding engagement in political life in our country.

Christian Man, so to speak, sees the world through different eyes than Political Man.

Christian Man sees the world through a lens of responsibility. Political Man, or if you will, Secular Man, sees the world through a lens of “rights.”

Because of these very different attitudes about how to approach life, Christians have a natural inclination to not see politics of central importance to their lives and, as result, to not be engaged.

Christians see the quality of their lives as a natural outcome of their relationship with God and how they assume the responsibilities that He asks of them. This then reflects on how they manage their relationships with their families, business colleagues and customers, neighbors, and communities.

Political, or Secular, Man sees the quality of life as a political outcome. They see their life and property as secure not because of admonitions to not kill and not steal, but because they believe these are rights and that government will protect them.

Over the years, political/secular consciousness has, sadly, advanced in our country and increasing numbers of Americans believe that our prosperity and our success reflect political decisions rather than religious/moral decisions.

We can see the results of this tangibly just by taking a look at the growth of government. The more materialistic Americans have become in their attitudes, the more they believe that what is most important is their rights rather than their responsibilities, the more we have turned our lives over to government control and solutions.

A hundred years ago, government - federal and local - took less than ten percent of our income. Today, it is more than one third. If things continue on their current path, by mid-century it will be one half.

Why should Christians care?

We need to care because the pretense that life is a political rather than a religious/moral challenge and problem amounts to a departure from the Truth. And a departure from Truth must inevitably lead to failure.

We’re already seeing it.

The government programs, all designed in the last century to “solve” our problems for health care and retirement, are failing. I’m talking about Social Security and Medicare.
Our public schools that are educating the majority of America’s children have been increasingly secularized and politicized and the quality of education that these children are getting is dropping.

Public education in our urban areas is in severe crisis. Children, largely black and Latino, coming from communities and families that have been broken by the welfare state, another major symptom of the secularization of the country, get little education in these schools, and at least half never graduate.

The result is a growing American underclass that is becoming locked in a cycle of poverty and crime from which there is less and less hope of exit.

The paradox facing Christians that I mentioned in my opening is that, because Christians naturally relate to life through personal responsibility rather than politics, they are more inclined to not be politically active and engaged.

On the other hand, secular Americans, for whom life is all politics, are more likely to be active and engaged.

The result is that secular Americans have had a disproportionate impact on our country over recent years.

It is imperative that Christians look outward into our public spaces and get involved in the political process.

By this I mean more than just registering and voting. Christians must actively scrutinize public policy in the country and inject our values into what America is doing.

Christians must take back America. The political greatness of our country is that it is free. But it is up to citizens to decide what to do with that freedom.

We are in a crisis because the wrong people have been making the wrong decisions for too many years. As result, the very freedom that permitted all this is being eroded, and erosion of our prosperity will soon follow.

Christians need to step up and get our values for the preservation of life, for the protection of family, and for personal responsibility rather than political materialism, to define again the fabric of America.

This will restore American greatness and get us back on the path for which we are destined.

12 comments:

jeleasure said...

Hey Greg,
I thought you may be interested to read what the first settlers of the first colony had stated their purpose was for colonizing here in America.

I found this in a document entitled The Mayflower Compact. It is as follows...

"In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience."

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Hi Farrah,

Very nice article--thanks for the link.

I find myself in a bit of a quandry. While I appreciate the views of the author and generally agree with the assessment of what has happened in our country, I find myself thinking about our calling as Christians and how it is that we as a nation have gotten to this point.

Specifically, I'm thinking about how it is that the one New Testament "Christian" calling on our lives (that of "going into all the world and making disciples of Christ" etc.) has been almost supplanted by an ever-increasing "political activism" amongst Christians (or Christian organizations).

I agree that we should be "involved" in politics even as we should be "involved" in science, arts, education, plumbing, construction, shipping, dishwashing, etc., (culture making in all of its forms); but my conviction is that if we were being true to our one specific calling while also engaged in our general "cultural" calling, then we wouldn't be in this situation to begin with. And now that we're in it, we tend to think that if we simply become more "politically active", then we will be doing the Lord's work to transform our country.

In other words, are we truly transforming our country back to its Christian roots by attempting to change our political "face"? Is it even possible to do this apart from each of us obeying the "Great Commission"?

My thinking is that if we were (or begin to be) fulfilling our calling to "make disciples of Christ", then our elected officials would reflect our values because the nation would truly be made up of Christians--we simply wouldn't vote for those whose agenda did not reflect Biblical standards of truth and morality. Now I know that supposedly there were many "Christians" who voted for Obama (and maybe that's true). But if that's the case, then what does that say about how we've "made disciples of Christ"?

I'm torn because I see too many Christians placing their hope in a "Christianized" political machine rather than in the work of the Spirit to transform lives as each of us ministers the Gospel to our neighbors who will then minister the Gospel to their neighbors, etc., thus effectively making this country a "Christian nation" because it will then truly be made up of Christians.

This is struggle that I've had within myself for years now. I just don't know how to reconcile in my mind the idea of "political activism to change our country" with the idea of "following the Great Commission to change our country". I'm not sure that the answer is that we can have both. Only a transformed heart brings glory to God. And if this nation were filled with those with "transformed hearts", then and only then, I believe, will the politics of this nation reflect that.

Politics and Religion...great topics for conversation, huh? Or fights! I opt for the former! :-)

GGM

Farrah said...

GGM,

I have a couple of thoughts I can share with you and totally understand what you are saying. :-) For some reason I am under the impression you do not have children. Before I go into some of my thoughts, can you let me know whether you do? :-)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Farrah,

Yes, you are correct. As of now, we do not yet have children.

Thank you for taking the time to share some thoughts on this. I've had people just turn away or shun me altogether when I express my concern in this area. I've never said I'm against political involvement, just the thinking that changing our government should be the focus of our lives as Christians, as if that's what is going to make our lives have meaning in this world. I know that's not what you are suggesting...it just seems to go with the territory so often.

I appreciate hearing what you have to say.

GGM

Andrew Clarke said...

I think you're absolutely right here. Government has assumed the form of an idol, a false object of worship. The cry is "The government should do something about it!" (whatever the issue is) instead of what we can do about it in the strength and under the guidance of God- or what God can do Himself without us when we can't help ourselves. The folly of faith in politics and government is shown when a natural disaster happens. Be it Cyclone Katrina hitting New Orleans or the bushfires in Australia, government and human effort cannot prevent these things from happening. The preoccupation with global warming may have some merit but past a point it is the implication of insisting that humans can save themselves from all things. And as you say people demand their rights without undertaking their responsibilities. As you also say, 'political man' and 'Christian man' have quite different views of the world. It can be quite ironic that the same people who find so much fault with the human race expect the same race to make everything good!

Farrah said...

GGM

You wrote, “I've never said I'm against political involvement, just the thinking that changing our government should be the focus of our lives as Christians, as if that's what is going to make our lives have meaning in this world.”

I agree with this line perfectly, so maybe we don’t even have anything to discuss!

It’s sad to me that some Christians are so excitable. You have alluded to one problem with Christianity and politics: the attitudes of those who are aggressively involved. Huckabee said, “I'm a Republican, but I'm not angry at anyone." I think this nicely sums up a big problem with Christians in politics. Many are hostile toward anyone with differing beliefs on any point. I am currently watching conservative Christians eat each other alive on one political blog. Very sad. Some of us have intervened as peacemakers and emphasized the importance of LOVE, but too often it seems to fall on deaf ears.

The reason for my “children” question is that parenting plays a large role in my own personal interest in politics. I have an especially keen interest in the welfare of children, which I feel drastically increased after our son was born. At some point, I realized that the government can play a large role in increasing or decreasing the suffering in our world.

God sees a sparrow fall, and I believe He cares about our physical needs as well as our spiritual. Of course, our spiritual needs are infinitely more important, but I feel certain it breaks His heart to see people, and particularly children, suffer.

Let me give an example that will help me explain how I view politics. Say there is a Christian who opens a shoe store. There are various materialistic benefits that can result: income to support his family and a product that improves the lives of others (reducing suffering caused by sore feet, etc.). The shoes themselves will have no direct spiritual impact. However, the man can run his business in such a way that he can also have a spiritual impact. He can model the fruits of the spirit with love, joy, patience, etc. He can find ample opportunities to share his faith both with his employees and customers. Yet, one wouldn’t normally call this a ministry.

This is one way I see politics. It can improve our lives, reduce suffering and have an indirect spiritual impact. Politicians can model Christian values in their jobs just like anyone else.

The laws of the land directly affect Christians. Laws can be made to help or hinder religious freedom and family values. Christian-friendly laws are made by Christians, not heathens. They get there by being voted in, and the only way to vote them in is if Christians vote.

I was raised to believe that Christians had no place in politics and shouldn’t even follow the news. The idea was that it is a bunch of sinners doing sinful things and best to keep out of it. Our son was born about a year after we were married, and I suddenly began to take a greater interest in the world around me. Perhaps it was due to the overwhelming love for our child and concern for his welfare.

Shortly after he was born, there were a couple of high profile stories in the news about pedophiles who had kidnapped, tortured, and murdered kids. Besides my extreme horror on behalf of those poor children and their families, I didn’t want this to ever happen to my son.

By default, I began to notice news stories on subjects such as pornography. I discovered that the easier access people have to porn, the more child pedophiles there are, and the more child pedophiles, the more child victims (I could go into a long explanation of how this works but will refrain for now). I read that the Clinton years had been wonderful for the porn business, as it is the government’s job to go after illegal porn. Clinton didn’t feel that was important, so his administration was weak in this area. We will never know how many additional victims there were, because of that.

I truly do not believe the government is the answer to our problems and agree it should not be our whole focus. What we really need is a return to God in society. I don’t think God calls everyone to be politically active, but I think He does call some and uses them for good. Not all of us are preachers and missionaries. Some of us are mothers looking out for our children.

One of my greatest desires is to raise my son right. There are very few things I am more passionate about. When I hear about political movements to restrict homeschooling, take away parental rights in multiple areas, and throw people in jail for discrimination against homosexuals just for teaching God’s Word, I realize the importance of being politically active. I serve my Lord WHILE being a wife and mother and while following politics.

Is there anything else I can clarify? :-)

Farrah said...

Jim,

I am always astounded by the role God played in our country's infancy. I am excited to learn American history along side our son for that reason!

Andrew,

Amen! Your comments are always welcome and encouraging. As always, God bless you! :-)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Thanks Farrah,

I appreciate your fair and balanced approach. I think we are of a very similar mind in this area. I understand how certain circumstances of life (having children, etc.) can amplify interest and involvement in arenas of life that can have a direct (or indirect) effect. From your example, I can clearly see your point.

I also think the Huckabee quote is right on. What you describe in this paragraph is what I see all too often and is probably the reason why I'm a little cynical with the whole process. But your grace and thoughtfulness is a welcome breath of fresh air and I'm very receptive to your understanding in this area.

Thanks again for your gracious and well-thought response. I'd like to see more of this kind of thinking and interaction from our "national" Christian leadership. Maybe it's there and I'm just so jaded by the whole thing I'm not seeing it.

Your words are a welcome voice.

GGM

Farrah said...

GGM,

That's one of the kindest comments I've ever received. :-)

Blessings in Christ Jesus!
Farrah

Tamela's Place said...

Hello Farrah,

I enjoyed reading the dialogue between GGM and yourself. I would have to agree with your reply Farrah and also with GGM in saying that you are a refreshing voice.

God bless you
Tamela:)

thekingpin68 said...

Hello, Farrah.

I agree that Christians must be politically active, to a degree. In USA the Biblical church still has more political clout than in Canada and Western Europe. Living in Canada, as a theologian I need to primarily focus on the gospel and pick my battles, so to speak, on particular social/political issues in a secular society that is primarily decidedly non-Christian.

Russ:)

Nitewrit said...

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Larry E.