Ok, I am going to gripe for a minute. The political landscape is heating up, especially on the Republican side. There is a great deal in the news about comments made by various politicians (any guess to whom I might be referring). It is moderately entertaining to me. I say this because I am not quite ready to fully think about the next election. Sometime next year I will jump into it so that I am informed. Yet, the back-and-forth provides a spark to the whole process.
This is not my problem. The issue is the way Christianity is politicized. Clearly, there is a desire to curry the religious vote. This makes sense. It is a sizable bloc in the United States; therefore, politicians certainly want to address their issues. Yet, there is a sense where religious issues are reduced to one or two particular concerns and that’s it. For me, it is much more. As a believer, I am very concerned about global concerns such as foreign aid as well as economic issues like debt reduction. I think these should be equally in the Christian wheelhouse. For example, foreign aid is an act of compassion, something that Christians should care about in their life. Financial responsibility is a biblical principle; therefore, it should factor in my political considerations.
One year ago I was approached by a gentleman who worked for a Christian political organization. This organization is very closely tied to a particular political party. He asked me my thoughts on the resources they provide for the local church. I openly shared about the tools that might be helpful to us. But then I honestly shared how the tools don’t go far enough. They tend to reduce my Christian beliefs to one or two issues and de facto align me with a particular party. The presumption was that these are the only issues important to Christians; therefore, this is how believers should vote. I asked him if they would consider including politician’s viewpoints on human trafficking, the environment, gun control, and healthcare for children. These are issues important to me as a believer. I hold to them because of how I interpret the totality of Scripture. His response communicated a lot to me. After raising these issues, he implied that I was isolationistic. Since I was not framed by one or two issues then I must not be concerned about the political arena. I actually receive a short lecture on the necessity for Christians to engage politically. To be honest, I was a slightly annoyed. I take pride in my engagement on political issues. I believe I have thought through numerous issues through my Christian lens. Needless to say, I pushed back. Eventually, he understood my perspective. Yet sadly it was a poignant example of my Christian faith reduced to a few things. Let me be clear, those few things are very important but they are not the only things that define me.
So, here is my encouragement. The issues that generally frame believers politically (abortion and heterosexual marriage) are clear in the Bible. In these cases, we see the issues through the lens of Scripture. God creates life; therefore, life should be upheld. Done. On the other issues (human trafficking, poverty, education, and healthcare) I believe we tend to do one of two things. We simply embrace the views espoused by a political party without any biblical reflection OR we have an opinion that may or may not coincide with Scripture. My encouragement is that we listen to all issues in a political debate and evaluate all politicians from a Biblical mindset so that our convictions are grounded in the Bible not simply political commentary. My faith should frame all of life including how I approach politics and for whom I vote. I should listen to a debate with an open bible and a critical mind. I should watch the news then pray about a Christ-response. Now, I just need to find that political candidate who speaks to all of these issues.