Friday, October 26, 2012

Fridays on Faith and Politics: What's the Point?

This is like, the 94th installment of this series on faith and politics. OK, it's actually only the fifth, but it feels like the 94th, so it's a short one. You can read the other installments here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

We've covered a good bit of ground so far. I'm not sure that we've really come to any conclusions, but I think we've generated some interesting questions.  And, speaking of interesting questions (awesome segue, right?), I have another one this week:

Photo Credit
 What's the point?

Now, I don't mean this in the kind of fatalistic "there's nothing we can do about it anyway" kind of way that it's most often used, but I'm really genuinely asking is, as Christians:

What is the actual point/purpose/reason for our participation in electoral politics?

Why do we do the things that we do in the political sphere? What motivates us to check a particular box for a particular candidate or initiative? What ends are we hoping to bring about through these particular political means?

But perhaps most importantly, do those ends include helping people experience the Love of God? Do they include helping to bring people into loving relationship with God? 

Or is there something else driving us?
A desire to be right, maybe?
A need for security?
Power? Vindication?

Why do we do the things we do? 

I caught a lot of flack during the Chick-fil-a fiasco earlier this year for asking similar questions. I was wondering aloud, both here and elsewhere, how the mess was in any way advancing the Kingdom of God. What I observed was that most of the people giving the flack didn't have friends in the LGBT community that were deeply hurt by the way many Christians were speaking and acting. In a way, I suppose that's informative about the answer to the question of motivation as well, because when you put a face on an issue, whether it's sexuality or poverty or war or whatever, your motivations tend to change. When you think about politics in terms of people instead of abstract principles, things can look very different.

Jesus had some ideas, I think, about the way we should approach the world (which, I think, is inclusive of our political activity).
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
So here's a challenge. Let's think about why we (I say we, because I'm challenging myself here too) make the political decisions we make. Let's take a look at who we are in community with, and how that affects our political decisions. Let's try to see the outcomes of our political decisions in terms of how they affect actual people with actual feelings and actual dreams.

Let's try to Love God and Love others the best we can in our politics.

Let's try to seek first the Kingdom, and worry about all the other stuff being added later.

So talk to me. What motivates you in your politics? How do you work the notion of loving God and loving others into your political calculus? Or do you see them as separate issue maybe? If so, how do you reconcile the two when they seem to conflict? Let me know what you think.

1 comment:

  1. So here is what I've been thinking about lately. At our Seeds of Hope meals we open our Church to share a meal with what has turned out to be a variety of people that are pretty much ignored in society. There are people from our Church who are passionate about this and serve with time, conversation with our guests, and money. Outside of Seeds of Hope some of these people from our Church are the same ones who talk about welfare and the poor in phrases ranging from derogatory to just ill-informed. For me personally it has made it much more difficult to engage politics in ways that ignores these people we share a meal with once a month. I am quite sure that no matter the politics of the people both served and serving in our meals that seeking the Kingdom will have effects that start to change the way Christian politics is practiced, and it will be more complex than talking points memos.


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