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.
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.