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On Politics

February 8, 2008

I used to think of politics as clear cut: There was the candidate that Christians should support, and then there was the one Christians couldn’t support. There was a Conservative, and he was the one for me.

Of course, this was all in my short span before I became 18. Now I am able to vote, but I no longer have that clarity. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I believe two factors are my growing discernment about the fallen nature of mankind and my increased understanding of the implications of the gospel of grace (namely, that Christians can live and disagree on different non-sin issues without either being more right than the other). Now, to a certain extent, there are clear delineations in politics–I consider whether a candidate is pro-life to be an issue of tantamount importance, and one that no Christian can discard.

Despite that level of clarity, I’m lost in this election mud. At first I took a glance at the candidates and thought there were no great candidates.

Time didn’t alter that.

I began reading websites, blogs, articles, and other forms of information. Of course, each candidate said they were the true Conservative. However, a friend of mine has challenged the deep-seated notion that Christians equal conservative (this friend does actually hold many “conservative” beliefs, but he is primarily concerned with Christians using conservatism as their master status, rather than the Cross of Chris Jesus and the change he brings into life). I must say, I agree with him. Also, many conservatives have freaked out (for lack of a better term) against any Republican whom they feel isn’t fiscally responsible. Pardon my frankness, but in the last century, when has there been any President–Republican or Democrat–who has truly reigned in spending (I believe that concept is for another day, but suffice it to say that I firmly believe that the idea of fiscal responsibility has been sacrificed at every altar imaginable continually, despite any conservative candidates vain claims that they can control the budget). With respect to anything, we must be Christ followers and Christ exalters before we identify with another group. Christian should be the label that interprets all other actions–not political party, or social class, or anything. It must all be as rubbish for the sake of the gospel.

The main question I wish to address, after that long introduction and qualification of my limited perspective, is to ask how we can truly grasp the state of our union. How can we all understand the economy and what economic strategy works or does not work. Who can say what foreign policy will pan out or not? How can we guarantee that our welfare programs do work, or that eliminating them would do any good?

There is so much information, and we all have to gargantuan task of attempting to decipher it. However, mankind’s fallen nature obstructs this process, so we are left with spin and analysis that is incorrect. We have reached a point as a society where the lens through which we view history (and depending on how far we went back in our approach to history) will completely distort the way in which we desire policy to end up. Can what is crooked by made straight, as the writer of Ecclesiastes asks? How can we ever know the truth (take the Iraq war, for example. Who can truly know what the impact will be, or whether our methods are effective, or whether even the philosophy itself of fusing democracy and Islam can work?)

At the risk of rambling, I am going to quickly accent the way in which both conservatives and liberals have historically been wrong on issues that we as Christians cannot overlook.

We slaughter millions of unborn children each year. Liberals see this issue as debatable, or as one that individual women should morally be able to make. Going back in time, it was the conservatives who promoted slavery, while the liberals fought against it and attempted to right it. It was the liberals who fought for child labor laws, abolishing the brutality of capitalists seeking exorbitant gains from exploited workers. It was liberals who fought for social justice on racial issues, and who rioted over segregation.

Now that I look back at my little list, it was many of the liberals who effected change that glorified God. Here is what I am not saying: that Christians should support liberals. But, we must understand that Christians should be a mix of conservative and liberal; liberal wherever society is brutalizing the poor and hurting, exploiting the widow and the helpless, or upholding laws that crush the equality of worth that God has blessed humanity with. However, Christians must stand firm and fight the tide of change and liberalism when it seeks to upend social institutions that  God has called holy, or seeks to knock down any of the laws that support life and human dignity.

Essentially, a Christian must be flexible, able to discern when policy is encouraging wickedness, and when others wish to change policy that honors God. We cannot afford to spend our credibility supporting one “movement” as if they’ve never made mistakes, or to interpret their history as a spotless one. We must fight against the notion that conservatism or liberalism can save America, as if we could become our own saviors and nullify the work of Jesus Christ our Lord on the Cross for our sins. Christ is the answer to all political problems, not a party, not a social gospel, and not a bible-thumping conservative.

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