Pre-Statement: As I create these politically-focused articles, I want to say up front that I reserve the right to change my mind. I am slightly hesitant to write these because the climate for political speech is so heated and volatile right now and there doesn’t seem to be room for respectful disagreement. I don’t mind if you don’t see things the same way that I do, and I don’t mind if you post comments to express that disagreement. However, I do expect all comments to be thoughtful, respectful, and devoid of vulgarities. If I find them to be offensive, I very well may delete them. One last thing, please understand that I hold no animosity or hatred toward any group, and just because I may find a certain lifestyle preference to be wrong, or because I may be against certain policy positions doesn’t mean that I’m “phobic,” hateful, or bigoted. Let’s be real. We all have things in life that we find to be against our views, but that doesn’t mean that we hate the people who participate in them. Further, I don’t believe that you hate me if you simply see things differently. Okay, on with the show.
Politics & Religion
When we were children, our parents would often say that the two things you should never discuss are politics and religion. Arguments are sure to follow any deviation from this rule. Lately, however, it seems that our country is disregarding these rules with a passion. (Anyone want a chicken sandwich?) In my view, there seems to be at least two factors at play, and both are bogus. First, there seems to be a view that if you are a Christian, then you shouldn’t have a voice in public policy. Second, some Christians seem to believe that they need to defend God. At great personal risk, I’m going to give you my opinion on both of these points of view. It is ONLY my opinion.Here is the First Amendment of the US Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This is one of the foremost and most basic laws of the United States of America. Most of us who have lived our whole lives with this law cannot imagine a life without it. (We should also keep in mind that not everyone in our world enjoys the same privilege.) However, this law is problematic for the dogmatic and opinionated.Can we all at least admit that the “dogmatic” and “opinionated” are not unique to conservatives or liberals, Christians or non-Christians, Democrats or Republicans?
I think both sides of most issues, especially the most heated of those issues, have begun to take the path of trying to berate those who disagree with them into political silence. Bully them into oblivion. I will freely admit that some voices in the faith-based arena have taken this tack. However, as a Christian, I can certainly feel the pressure to shut up placed on “my kind” by those who disagree with views generally held by followers of biblical teachings. Often, this is defended because some in our country have felt bullied by Christians, so when the opportunity arises they feel justified in returning the favor. Let me just point out that if you are bullying a bully, that just makes you a bully too.Frankly, I think we, as Christians, should shut up though.
It is not our calling to dictate public policy to people who do not hold to the teachings of Christ, and often we are bringing disdain on the God we follow by the very words we utter. But, that’s not my primary point here. As citizens of the United States of America, Christians do have a right based on the first amendment to participate in the debate of public issues. It is fine to disagree, but please refrain from trying to quell disagreement by bullying people. Additionally, please don’t try to bully me into accepting your position on an issue by calling me names or ostracizing me from society. As our parents used to say, two wrongs don’t make a right.This brings me to the second issue…the apparent perceived need that some Christians feel to defend or protect God or faith in Christ. This is why I think we generally need to just shut up. God doesn’t need us to defend Him. He is quite capable of defending Himself all by Himself should He feel the need. Christians are called to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything I (Christ) have commanded….”* That is our mission. We make disciples of Jesus by teaching them….not bullying them…not berating them…not legislating them…TEACHING them. It is a voluntary process. If they don’t want it, we don’t try to make them. If they don’t want to mold their lives to the teachings of scripture, then we don’t beat them over the head with the Bible. Jesus said to “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”**
In conclusion, I think that Christians have every right to participate in the US political process. They have a right provided by our constitution to state their views and should be respected as much as any other group in doing so. However, I think they should often refrain from doing so and instead focus on their higher mission. They should teach and not berate. If they take care of the poor…if they clothe those who need clothing…if they feed the hungry…if they house the homeless…people will respect their views. If they speak first… before they care…, they lose credibility…right or wrong. Again, another reason that I am hesitant to write this particular series of blog articles. Maybe I need to take my own medicine….because I freely admit that I am a Christian.
*Matthew 28:18-20 (words of Jesus)**Matthew 5:16 (words of Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount)