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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Church and State

The previous post on the Blackwater book talking about abortion as a "culture of death" and the whole political Christianity thing with The Family and Blackwater stirred up more (or the same?) thoughts on the topic I continually think about - politics in religion and religion in politics. Church and state.

I always think about the big 2 - abortion and gay marriage and wonder how these got to be political issues. Why not go after a divorce ban- except in the case of death or infidelity? Surely that's of equal moral concern as homosexual marriage? Why choose these 2 and claim them as "Republican values"?

There is a strong sentiment in the Church (less so in the greater religious world) that unless you vote Republican you are not doing everything you can to stop or oppose abortion and gay marriage. I, on the other hand, don’t know that that’s the most effective or best way to oppose it. Let’s say we banned abortion and gay marriage in this country. Would those sinners be any closer to knowing the gospel? Would we as a nation or individually?

I think in our zeal to oppose these things politically, we can lose sight of the real goal.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t preach and listen to sermons against abortion and homosexuality- not at all. I’m only saying I think we go too far when we say or imply that voting Republican (or supporting candidates and laws against these) is the only solution or only way to be faithful.

I know some will think I’m a sentence away from falling away from the church or supporting or condoning abortion and gay marriage, but I just think we need to be careful to preach what the Bible teaches and nothing more or less.

First, we are to spread the gospel, not necessarily to keep people from the physical acts of sin. The latter would be nice, but that alone won't save their soul. Just like we can get caught up in the head count of congregations or the number of baptisms per week rather than making sure we are active and faithful, I think we can get caught up in number of laws passed to gauge how Christian our nation is. Numbers won't tell you the group is faithful and a heap of 'moral legislation' won't tell you how Christian the nation is or how hard we have tried to spread the gospel.

Who is to say that teaching people about the gospel, when life begins and that abortionis murder is less effective than assaulting people with pictures (and gory details) of aborted fetuses and telling them to vote Republican. I agree that a picture can say a thousand words, having seen my share of pictures and videos of blown up and bleeding children and bloody stumps traded back and forth in discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but I have reservations and issues with using this as a primary tool of persuasion. I think it appeals too much to emotion and can displace reason and logic. I also feel bad about using someone's child and pain in a campaign (albeit a worthy one) to end the conflict or abortion.

Second, voting for a candidate or party lumps a whole lot of other issues together that could have equal or different spiritual concerns.

Sometimes in the fight against abortion and gay marriage it appears we forget that Christ came teaching individual, not national responsibility and salvation.

Some will think me contrary, confrontational, wanting to sit on the fence, not having a desire to fight for right – I will respectfully disagree.

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