There is an alternative magazine called This Magazine. on it’s masthead it has the subtitle, “Because Everything is Political.” Aside from the journal being really anything but alternative (just more uber-left anarchist stuff), it raises an interesting question:
Is everything indeed, political?
I attended a pastor’s breakfast today that helped me to focus a bit on this question. The reason for the meeting was Ontario’s new anti-bullying bill which is a lot more about social engineering in schools than it is about protecting anyone from getting hurt or harassed. In fact, the law pretty much guarantees that things will get a lot worse for a lot of students under this piece of legislation. More can be read about it here.
The issues raised at the breakfast are valid; as a result of new curriculum in Ontario public schools, the question of the homosexuality, bisexuality, etc., (the categories are getting pretty long and complex) have become settled: no one has the right to be on the dissenting side of the debate, no one can learn otherwise in a public school in Ontario. Those who oppose the rightness, goodness, and normalcy of such behaviour must be reeducated. The acceptance of what the Bible calls sexual sin will be enforced from Kindergarten through grade 12. In Wisconsin, where this curriculum has been adopted, grade school students must participate in a gay pride parade at their school.
Pastors are urged to organize to fight this legislation, and the general slide to lawlessness in public schools. I can sympathize with that. But I think, though, that a political solution might not be the right one, because the problem isn’t a political problem, but a spiritual one.
Secularists see the political realm as the one area of life that really matters. It is there that society, family, the individuals and institutions are shaped for the future. This makes sense, because a secularist does not acknowledge spiritual reality.
To respond to bad public policy with political activism seems, at least on the surface, to be the obvious approach, and, although difficult, the simplest. But the Christian needs to remember that all of life is God’s domain, in spite of the fact that unbelievers move only in the secular-political realm (because for many, that is the only reality acknowledged). So there are places, ideas, realms, if you will, that should be obviously spiritual: human sexuality, marriage, and family for instance.
Marriage has, allegedly, been redefined to include unions that are same-sex. That redefinition is only political, and the political has no authority to do so. Marriage is God’s to define, and define it He did. Widening the debate a little, God has also spoken very clearly about same-sex relationships, and they are forbidden. Sex, however, has also been politicised to the point that the spiritual has been crowded out.
But the Christian knows otherwise: There has never been a same-sex marriage in human history, because such unions are not marriage.
So I think the real culture wars will be less on the political/legislative front, and more to issue of denying the legitimacy of political domination of God’s Rule. Normalizing homosexuality, sanctioning same-sex marriae, and all that accompanies these moves are illegitimate actions for governments. These are not their domains of power or influence, except that power and influence has been usurped.
This is why schools are still going on about bullying: bullying is a spiritual problem, a problem of sin, not a political one. The political does not acknowledge the reality of sin, the need of salvation, or the reality of a God Who judges, so how can the political come up with a solution?
I am not opposed to Christians organizing and doing some things politically, but a couple of thoughts came to me at this meeting. The first was, if Christians were faithful and consistent, why would these trends be so prevalent in our culture today? We are at a spiritual low ebb, and we have sunk lower than we can even recognize. For example, if we consider the most popular Christian book titles (for those who still read), we find first of all, the Bible (purchased by millions, read by hundreds). Following this are books about self, self, and how to have a happy self; or “Christian” fiction. Contemporary Christian music often falls between mind-altering repetitious chanting of the same few lines, aka “worship,” or creepy love songs that seem inappropriate when addressing deity. We have more books, internet, radio, television, DVDs, video games, etc., that all fall under the “Christian” category, and yet we are possibly the most Biblically illiterate generation since the Reformation. We really are, “amused to death.”
The second thought that came to me at this meeting truly hit home, and hard. It was an exhortation from a pastor from a large charismatic congregation in Stoney Creek. He said, “The government is not afraid of the church at prayer. The government is not afraid of the church’s message. But they are afraid when Christians are united and organized!” This garnered some loud “Amens!” from the group, but I found it summarized the political idolatry many Christian organizations, as well as churches and individual Christians, have fallen into: we have exchanged the political for the spiritual.
To wit: If the world isn’t afraid of our message, what’s wrong with our message? As far as I know, the apostle Paul did not organize a political response to Rome, yet his message was so well understood by Rome that he was beheaded, and thousands of Christians were killed for their faith. That tells me that the message was heard and received, and rejected by the government of the day. What message does the government hear from us today? The message of the early church was rejected by early Rome because it placed God as God, and rightly named the rulers and religions of the day as idolatrous. This is why being so political seems so misguided: the church legitimizes governments’ powers when it plays by their rules, rules that are false and idolatrous.
Romans 1:16–17 (ESV) says,
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it [the gospel] is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
I don’t know where in the New Testament that God blesses political prowess. But God has promised salvation through the gospel, and salvation is what sets us free from sin (all sin). Have we really exhausted that power, so that we have to become a political threat to our government before there is change? Do we really think that?
I am not advocating quietism or anything like that. I think Christians should boldly and clearly state God’s truth on all matters of life, and that the government has no right to act in some of the areas it does. The power it claims does not rightfully belong to a government, even if it is a majority. The things of God are God’s, and we would do well to behave accordingly. We must continue to be salt and light, to clearly state Christian truth, and to live the truth so that our lives are seen as a real alternative to live’s lost in confusion.
If you are reading this are thinking that it would be nice for Christians to get out of politics, and therefore out of the way, you’re missing the point. We will always be in the way, and exposing the lie that political reality is the only true faith, or that mankind’s deepest yearnings are satisfied in parliament.