just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Elephants or Donkeys--which is more Christian?

I try not to assume that if someone is labeled a Republican or a Democrat that I know all of the reasons or beliefs behind their association with that political party. I don’t think it is necessary to think that Christians only have two options—to fit into the mold of the core agenda of either Republicans or Democrats. I think it is okay to say that on some issues I am in agreement with Republicans, while on others it is with Democrats. I think it is important that no party has a monopoly on all the issues pertaining to faith and Biblical values. This is my problem with Christians (and certain segments of the church) identifying so closely (in lock step?) with one or the other political party. To uncritically endorse one Party over the other, I believe, does not do justice to the Church being a prophetic voice in our society on a broad range of issues. If you are registered Republican, you should support the part of the agenda that come out of Biblical faith. HOWEVER, you should also be willing to critique and call for the party to address other issues that seem to be ignored or thought about in a way that is inconsistent with Biblical faith. The same goes for those who are registered as Democrats.

Is there a better choice? For me the most important factor in this decision is that we are honestly seeking to be faithful to the Kingdom of God as we live out the Gospel in community with the Church. I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question—is there a better choice. For me, being a prophetic voice means that we will not fit into the categories of Right or Left. Might we need to think of our role as citizens in this country with a new perspective? How about being the “Religious Center?” We will be aligned with Republicans on some issues, and Democrats on other issues. We will probably offend some, but I believe if the Church would begin to take this posture, we could change the tone and substance of the political conversation and process that is going on in our country.

In general, I believe you could make a case that Jesus in his life and teachings was a social conservative, and an economic liberal. Yet, you can’t boil it down that easily because his content was conservative on social issues, but he associated with “sinners” forgave adulterers, ate with tax collectors, had a special concern for the poor. The community he left behind lived a radical way of life that involved generous giving to the poor, community life and worship. Jesus was concerned about issues of personal morality, but also social justice. Which party represents all that this means? I believe that the Church has a unique role to play in society. I fear that the Church gives up that unique role when it aligns itself exclusively with the agenda of one party or the other. We must be able to change the conversation and political process that is happening, so that the ways of Christ are sown into this world through living, flesh and blood ways that address sin.

The church should be a community that discerns sin and the way that leads to life. But, we don’t eradicate sin by just naming it and setting up civil laws that represent Biblical faith (i.e. gay marriage, abortion). The church must be will to get out from behind the protective walls of the judiciary system, and executive branch. The Church has authority to confront sin that goes far beyond (and requires far more) than fighting for legislation. BUT, we must be willing to incarnate the gospel with people who are broken and trapped in sin (sexual, emotional, violence, addiction, etc.). Jesus did not just set up a moral code that let people know that they are sinners. He meets each person personally at their point of brokenness. He was willing to come among sinners and relate to them in a way that opened them up to receive God’s love and the good news of the Kingdom. Are we?

May God give us grace and courage to incarnate the way of Jesus in a hostile, sin-sick, demon-riddled, death-bound world. This is my Father's world.