Wednesday, 08 February 2012
This is a guest post by a friend of mine, Jonny Craig. He’s much smarter than me, regarding theology, politics, and well…he’s just plain smarter than me. I am excited to welcome him to the blog! If you’d like to guest post, shoot me an email; firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll chat. Now…Jonny on religion and politics:
Since long before the American Revolution, the notion that Christians should be involved with government has been broadly taught, accepted and practiced. It doesn’t bear repeating here, nor is it necessary, to tell the tale of Constantine and his Divine calling and the affect that the institutionalizing of Christianity has had on European and American politics throughout history. Simply stated, the idea that God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians have a responsibility, nay, a duty to be politically active has reached a hegemonic level. Whether it’s Jim Wallis or James Dobson, Christian leaders are at the forefront of the fray, rallying troops around their own particular positions and parties. Be it a Faith and Family platform or God’s Politics, the assumption remains the same regardless of party lines: the soul of America is at stake, and it’s up to us to save it.
But beneath all of our cultural assumptions are questions that must be considered. What happens when claims based on Romans 13 are held up against Luke 22? Or when Old Testament passages are understood within their proper context? How do we choose between issues like social welfare which is generally supported by Democrats, and fighting for the unborn, a Republican standard? How can we reflect God’s perfect will and Christ’s perfect example in a system that is inherently flawed and considerably un-perfect?
In the two party system, the choices we’re left with are severely lacking in a lot of ways. Beyond that, different Christians will have different ideas of what responsibilities the government should have vs. what the church should take care of. Yet listening to the discourse happening during this election cycle, it doesn’t seem anybody is taking time to reflect on these issues, instead opting for the simple way out and flocking to one ideologue or another. The “hip” Christians circle the wagons around Wallis and Obama, while the “value voters” stand with their familiar flag bearers of Dobson and the Republican party. From the looks of things, nobody seems to see a bigger picture, and that’s concerning.
The Bible does not support any one political system. Arguably, the Bible supports every political system. Free marketers will point to the book of Proverbs or Old Testament laws while liberals want to make Jesus sound like a socialist. Both sides are drunk on their own kool-aid, and both sides want to push their political position. Either way, the problem is the same: God never calls us to be involved in politics. Lets repeat that: God, at no point in scripture, commands, implies, requests or even suggests that we mobilize as a group and support a party, politician or platform. It’s just not there. That’s not to say that voting is evil, or having party affiliation will condemn you do damnation, but it is to say that God is far more concerned with our testimony and our relationship with him than he is with who wins school board, or governor, or even *gasp* president.
1 Peter 2 calls us to live as aliens in a foreign land and immediately follows up that call by telling us to submit to governing authorities. Not influence, not campaign for, not campaign against, but submit to. Our allegiance has nothing to do with America. Sure, go vote, but don’t vote because America needs its soul saved. Don’t vote because God told you to. Don’t vote because you know which candidate is a closer approximation of how Jesus would lead. Just vote because of your opinion. Your flawed, imperfect, finite, human opinion. And then accept the results happily, however the chips may fall. Remember, this world is not your home, you’re just passing through.
Jonny is a 25 year old Seminary student currently living in Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Kayla, and son, Joseph. He enjoys getting coffee with friends, talking sports and theology and getting out to the movie theater once in awhile. He’s passionate about orphan care and the future of the American church. You can reach him at email@example.com or on twitter @jonny_craig