The Major Issues in Politics – Where Christians Disagree

I think the most important principle I have learned about politics in this in depth pursuit of truth, is that there are a lot of issues to consider. Possibly many of the differences are really just a matter of focusing too closely on a particular issue. One of the most profound things I’ve discovered in this journey is how Christians often suggest that their views are informed by their faith, yet Christians have not come to a definitive agreement on the issues.

I think we need to be careful when we suggest that our ideas and political convictions are someone connected to our beliefs and biblical convictions. Often times our political perspective is nothing more than a natural prejudice that has developed from our values. If you understand my truth paradigm then this argument will make sense to you.

So what are the major issues that carry enough weight for Christians to argue over?

1. Abortion. I’ve already discussed how Christians should not make this the sole issue of their political objective (read that article here), but I want to point out how differing Christians can come to opposing views on this very sensitive subject. Let me begin by making a very clear absolute: No one can have a high view of Scripture and not believe that abortion is murder. That is a biblical principle that cannot be denied. Beyond that statement, there are Christians who disagree with how the problem should be dealt with. Some picket for the right to life. Others see picketing as a hindrance to showing love to the lost. Some would like to see the 14th amendment applied to protecting the rights of the unborn. Others see the federal platform as a hindrance to the state solution. Some propose that Christians must pressure legislation to change the laws. Others see the problem as cultural, and base their approach on evangelism. There is a lot of debate over the issues and Christians need to understand that this is natural and provided for in Scripture (Romans 14). Christians will not agree on every issue. There is, however, an absolute answer for who is right and who is wrong, but that won’t be determined until we are glorified. In the meant time, we need to be considerate that well meaning Christians will see things differently than we do and be respectful when hearing them out and sharing our own ideas.

2. Foreign Policy. I’ll be completely honest, I think most conservative Christian’s political positions on foreign policy are far too extreme. Here are the facts: America is a Democratic-Republic established by Christian philosophers to provide a stable government where all walks of life could share common freedom, liberty, and justice. It is not a flawless system. It is not inerrant or inspired. It is not viewed by the rest of the world as the only form of logical government. Here is where the problem comes about: Christians consider exporting Democracy to the middle east as a gospel mission. It is not. Democracy is great, but it’s not the gospel. I once had a friend in college who said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could take all of the Christians out of Communist China and give them Democratic rights?” His reasoning was that by giving them freedom to express their religion they could teach us a thing or two about genuine faith. But the reality is, their persecution is what established their genuine faith. Christians need to understand this: Democracy is not necessarily the precursor to start a flame of evangelism, but often a blanket that dampens it. 

Furthermore, the notion that the US can force democracy on a war torn society which cannot agree among themselves on how to interpret Sharia Law, is extremely naive. Sharia Law is the religious law of the Islamic faith. Similar to the Jewish or Old Testament Law, it is not based on, nor compatible with democracy. The US will be no more sucessful at promoting democracy among the Muslim nations than they were at establishing democracy in Vietnam or North Korea. Likewise, Iran is no more a threat to American society than Russia was in the cold war. It would be catastrophic if we went to war with Iran and then attempted to set up a stable government before leaving.

3. Economics. This is a very wide term, but it is very important for Christians to understand and particularly to apply wisdom toward. There are good, God fearing Christians on differing sides of the many different economic issues, but we need to remember that these factors are primarily based on abstract principles and not necessarily definitive authority.

A. Welfare. There are Christians on both sides of this issue. I’ll state up front that I am against a government controlled welfare system. I have yet to hear a compelling argument that the welfare system is actually helpful to society, but I will provide anyone the platform to defend it (perhaps I’ve missed something). The only argument I’ve really heard for Christians supporting government’s benevolence is that God commands us to care for the poor and love the sick and the weak. While I agree that Christians ought to take seriously their role of helping those who are less fortunate, the real question is, should government mandate it? Government has the worst efficiency rating, it doesn’t provide checks and balances, it takes the money by force to distribute to the poor, it often squelches a spirit of benevolence among citizens, and it creates a dependency that neglects to consider the other biblical principle from Ephesians 4:28.

B. Obama care. This seems to be a very touchy subject. My friends on the conservative right equate Obama care with the lowest form of human intelligence. While my friends from the other spectrum consider anyone who is opposed to Obama care as the lowest form of human decency. It seems to be quite a debacle, but are these disagreements helpful? I don’t think so. Christians on both sides of the issue should remain civil to each other and understand that the question is not about intelligence or decency, but about economics. The real question we should be asking is what is the most effective way to make sure that all Americans are provided with the best, most efficient, and inexpensive health care. I don’t believe Obama care is the right choice because as I stated before, I don’t think the government is the most efficient model. Plus, I believe that capitalism when properly applied provides the environment for the best, most efficient, and most inexpensive solutions to rise to the top. That doesn’t mean that I am heartless and that I don’t care about those without insurance. I just believe that the best system is when the government is not in control. But let me say that I am appalled when Christians respond to the health care problem with insensitive comments like, “Get a job!” This does not explain the position, it does not show love to one’s brother, nor does it reflect well on the gospel.

Conclusion

The most important thing to focus on when Christians disagree is how they disagree. Will you do so respectfully? Can you do it lovingly? Are you so narrowly minded that you won’t listen to any opposition to your ideas? Even when we are confronting a brother in sin, we are commanded to do it with the intention of winning them over, not humiliating or criticizing them. We could all be a little more humble in how we approach the differences we hold to.

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5 Responses to The Major Issues in Politics – Where Christians Disagree

  1. cantabarrister says:

    This is a really interesting piece, thank you. I notice that the media in England often portrays all US Christians as Wall-Street supporting, gun-owning, militaristic Tea-party activists, when clearly there must be many political opinions amongst Christians in the US, just as there are amongst Christians in England.

    • Adam Miller says:

      Thanks Cantabarrister. It has always interested me how outsiders view Americans. When I was in Kenya we were thought of as Loud, Fat, and Rich. Perspective is always interesting when looking through someone else’s eyes.

  2. Nate says:

    Very curious if you’ve read any works by Flannery O’Connor? She had this concept about “apocalytic evangelism” where God would use the moment that a person’s life was being destroyed to reveal Himself and change their stubborn heart. I read this one short story of hers where she made this statement:

    “She would of been a good woman,” said The Misfit, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”
    ― Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories

    I understand your point to address those who believe Democracy is Gospel, but be careful what you throw out with the bathwater too. I quote Flannery because she takes to the extreme the same idea that you’re implying, that we need disaster and oppression before we realize our state.

    I think this is false. Disaster and oppression are necessary tools when we are stubbornly wicked, but they also act as crutches that make it harder for the convicted to allow the wicked desires of their heart to surface. In other words, it is disaster and oppression that are a veil. In freedom we see our true selves. As a Christian, I do not want to pretend to have faith by relying on external stimuli to keep it there out of sheer fear. I want to will conformity to Christ especially when I’m not goaded into it, when the door is shut and the lights off.

    Why would anyone pray “Please God beat me and cause me all kinds of anxiety and pain and constantly take from me all possession. All for your glory that people would be driven in their hearts to You!” Is this the God you want to serve? No, I think the world has plenty of examples of the heavy goad of Law and it has come of age for the carrot of Liberty & Grace. Even the Psalmist warns us to not be dumb like the horse or mule that has to be led by bit and bridle.

    The Gospel frees us from the heavy hand of the Law and empowers us to live in right standing with God and each other. Should we not apply that to everything from everyday living to how we structure society?

    From such a perspective, the problem with Democracy is not that it weakens the faith (how could it?), but that Americans are militant about enforcing converts of other nations. The Gospel must be approached with volition. Without volition, it is not faith. To force any system of government on other nations, regardless of the method, goes against the Gospel. Might as well be Muslim if that’s the kind of God subscribed.

    Sidenote: I’m not advocating a strict passivism in any sense. God is a Conqueror, so we should too. But we can do it by offering better instead of forcing people into it. Essentially, free market evangelism.

    • Adam Miller says:

      Thanks Nate. I love it when you comment because you always challenge me. The opposition helps me reflect and refine my points.

      I haven’t read O’Conner. Though she makes an interesting point, I would not hold to an apocalyptic evangelism. I would never tell anyone to pray for persecution, nor would I vote to lose my freedom. I’m actually very thankful for a democracy.

      I stand by my carefully worded statement, however, because I want to make the point that democracy does not naturally equate religious freedom. Sure, we are free to express our own religion freely, but it also creates a dismal side affect of lethargy which in turn is bondage to sin. I think the principle that Christians will suffer for their faith is fundamental in the New Testament. Paul tells Timothy that in order to live a godly life he MUST suffer persecution. Paul learned to glory in his tribulation because it drew him closer to Christ. While salvation is by grace alone, it is through tumultuous struggles that we are made holy.

      I have also talked with some very godly Chinese Christians who have said that they would not wish democracy on their nation. I simply wanted to create a platform where their voice was heard. I think there is a factor of balance in here, but one that we need to consider in light of the limited revelation we have concerning government. I am thankful that we have a constitution that was founded on biblical ideas that was open enough to provide freedom to all walks of life. That is a very beautiful thing. Something I am proud of.

      There is another principle that we must not disregard, how trust-fund babies respond when they haven’t struggled to earn a single penny. I simply want to point out that the underlying problem of the depravity of mankind affects every form of government in a devastating way.

      I know we are just arguing nuance here, and deep down we would agree on the fundamentals. I don’t want to go as far as to say that democracy is a terrible environment for Christianity, nor do I want to say that it is the perfect environment for Christianity. I will, however, say that I believe it is the best form of government for Christianity.

      Does that clarify my point or confuse it further?

  3. Nate says:

    Clarifies much (and I do agree.) Your point about trust-fund babies is what challenges my viewpoint above the most because it begs questions about not the need for struggle, but why some people are driven to find challenges and others simply aren’t. My short answer is that it lies not so much in the system of government necessarily, but in how families relate to that government. Begging further, America may have come up with a great form of government, but failed to solidify a culture of ambition. Our industriousness didn’t survive the Depression Era.

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