Politics (Moody Forum)

I am not a Communist.  I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I am not a Fascist.  My views do not rest neatly in any area of the political spectrum because I am a Christian.  I look to the Bible to make judgments about issues as they come to the fore in politics.  I try to think of verses that might apply to situations and I think of principles that will govern my response.

 

I am concerned about the abortions that happen in America.  But I am concerned that we deal with the issue so simplistically.  One side state that they are pro-life, does this insinuate that the other side is pro-death?  One side is pro-women’s rights; does this imply that the other side is for the taking away of women’s rights?  It seems that the dialogue is doomed before it starts because the discussion is couched in language that polarizes and demonizes the opposition. 

 

I am concerned about same-sex marriage.  I believe in a design that shows intention of a marriage between man and woman.  The deviation of the model of marriage is sin.  However, although I am opposed to homosexual behavior and believe it to be sin I know that I am a sinner saved by grace and want to deal with sinners with compassion.

 

I believe that we are stewards of God’s resources.  We need to adopt responsible   environmental policies.  The book of Ecclesiastes clearly indicates that the world is not designed for us to gain anything.  Our souls leave this world, but the material we are made of goes back into the cycle of life.   From dust we are taken and to dust we return.

 

I believe that the disenfranchised, the disabled, the unemployed need caring for.  I am a skeptic about the ability of mankind’s drive to care for his/her fellow man to work through faith based charity.  I believe that in many cases those who have have a responsibility to share God’s blessings in their life with those who have not.  This may need administrating by the state.  Of course, the present government systems of caring for those who can not take care of themselves is flawed and needs reform.  But it doesn’t need abolishing per se.  

 

Many Christians in North America would agree with these ideas.  It seems though that to be a Christian in America is to put abortion as the primary concern and then defend against the attack on the family.  I believe Americans vote as citizens of America primarily.  What would it mean though, if they voted primarily as citizens of a globally situated Kingdom of God?

 

I am not American, I am British.  I have lived in Japan and seen the Japanese conduct their elections.  I watched the PPP sweep to power in Pakistan when I was there in the late 80’s.  I have been in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the late 90’s when the rule was quite different.  So in coming to America I have a view of the current elections in a global context.  In the first election that I observed in America, I heard a debate where one of the candidates talked about flexing American muscle and I became concerned for what that would mean.  I thought of the implications for the world.

 

Politics is a very complex business.  Webs of ‘social relations involving authority and power’ run throughout the world.  The USA occupies a unique position at the centre of world politics.  It plays the role of chairman, arbitrator, polluter, villain, hero, conspirator, savior, and bank to the world.  No other country has sway over life and death like America does.  How do we become aware of the effects of ICI factories in India and the deaths they cause?  How do we become aware of how drug companies test their drugs and sell them in the global market?  How do we hold a government responsible for decisions that ripple outward to the ends of the earth?  What would happen if we voted as citizens of the Kingdom of God in God’s world?  Would American murders of unborn children trump the deaths due to the environment or social justice?  Does the issue of godly marriage outweigh whether companies can move into mountains and remove glaciers that provide vital water to whole river systems?

 

Voting as an American is unique.  It bears a great responsibility.  In many ways the government of America is the government of the world.  So let’s move away from the simplistic analysis of one or two issues, but engage in discussion about God’s world and work the redemptive plan on a global scale.

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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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7 Responses to Politics (Moody Forum)

  1. alexgoreham says:

    “My views do not rest neatly in any area of the political spectrum because I am a Christian” I really like this quote. I have never really thought about this in this way. My king, my president, my ruler is Christ and He should be the top of everything. He should have the final say in my life. I wish i could say this is true, but half the time i am stupid and do my own thing. I listen to myself. I don’t know if i am going to stop calling myself a republican, but politics is a very complex business. ALEX GOREHAM

  2. Tyson2424 says:

    Voting as an American is extremely difficult.  As good stewards we are required to vote, but like you pointed out the two major political parties have divided up issues that the Bible is clear about. Republicans are pro-life, Democrats are pro-enviroment. Unfortunately at the end of the day we can only cast one vote so we are forced to decide which issue is the most important to us as individuals. We can pray and ask for guidance as we cast our votes, but disregaurding that you get divine revelation we as Christians are forced to decide what issues that we think are the most important.

  3. Ssparling says:

    What does it look like to vote in America? Different candidates have political platforms that support or suppose different issues that the United States face today. If it is impossible to find a candidate that holds a biblical worldview in all their policies, then which issues do you compromise on and which do you hold fast to? How do you measure the value and importance of the issues? I really enjoyed reading your post that you read, because as always, it got me thinking and questioning things a bit outside of the box. Well, not necessarily outside of the box, but stepping back, taking a consensus on how things operate, and why they run in a certain way. I think as Christians it is very easy to get into the mode of simply going through the motions of life and doing things because it is the “right” thing to do but not really knowing why. What are the motivations behind the action? To bring God glory and honor of course, that is the typical response you would get from the average Christian, and that is why we should do things, but I don’t think that is always the case. I have seen people driven by greed and selfishness even if it is to do good things in the name of God. I think the sooner we realize that we are a corrupt people living in a fallen world and that it is by grace alone that we are saved, the better it will be. I have seen alot of Christians adopt a attitude of almost self-entitlement and assurance that very quickly develops into an unhealthy pride. We need to know who the source of our strength is and remember that we did nothing to deserve it, and we can do nothing to earn it.

    Shannon Sparling

  4. servantofone says:

    I thought the conversation that night was an interesting one, particularly because I am in class with you and Zuber on the same days each week, and I see so many differences in how you teach, I was interested to see what sorts of differences would come out in this conversation. that book i’m reading, Jesus for President, deals with this problem of voting as an American; it’s not as easy as saying “well, I’m pro-life,” because even in saying that, one side doesn’t hold that notion completely. While the Republicans are anti-abortion, they also support the death penalty and, as a party, the war. The Democrats support a woman’s right to abortion, but they are against the death penalty and, as a party, the war; they also prioritize improving the lives of the poor and underprivileged, being concerned not with the lives of children, but with the lives of many others. Where do we stand and say which is more important?And then there’s the environmentAnd tax reformAnd school vouchersAnd i don’t think Jesus would actually have run for president (Claiborne makes this point and then gives a quote something along the lines of the only people fit to lead are those who don’t want to); even if he would have, he’s not running now.what in the world are we left with? a couple of parties… and either way we’re losingwhat’s costing us more?as the Kingdom of God, what is costing us more?I feel completely overwhelmed by the war and by this election because our country has such an impact on what happens in the rest of the world. I just want to hand my ballot over to some woman from Iraq and ask her to vote because I really don’t want what happens next to be on my head. I feel sometimes like I’ve scared myself out of making any choice at all because I am realizing the weight of those choices… yeah. If you would please take my ballot, I’d be more than happy to give it to you

  5. I found this a refreshing perspective as a fellow Christian. So often I have heard that we have to define views and people in certain ways, such as atheist, nihilist, etc., but just as Christians do not all fit under the same stereotypical category, other viewpoints do not either. I have often wondered why people immediately think that the opposite of being pro-life is being pro-death. The way people have approached opposing viewpoints when dealing with issues such as abortion often demonstrates that some people do actually think that if one is not called pro-life, he is pro-death. I make it a regular practice of mine that when I meet someone who calls himself a democrat or says he supports a certain group such as pro-choice or pro-gay organizations, I ask him questions about what that means to him and why he has chosen to associate himself with them. I have found many ways in which people are only partly able to call themselves republicans or something else because every person thinks differently and has different values. As a Christian, I seek to understand more about why people do not believe as I do, that the Bible is absolute and that I can have a relationship with God, which helps me to know better how to explain my own worldview in a way that they can comprehend.

  6. Servantofone just commented “If you’d please take my ballot, I’d be more than happy to give it to you.”
    Funny, I thought the same thing at first. However, the way you think intrigues me. I have characterized you in my head as a Biblical post-modern. Truth is found wherever your thinking leads you, unless it contradicts with Biblical principles. To have someone give you their ballot would be against everything you’ve taught. Learning to think for yourself, and run your thoughts about God’s Creation through God’s Word is imperative.
    Politics. Oy vey.
    Sometimes I feel clueless as to where my votes should go. It seems like it’s simply a matter of choosing the lesser of..3 evils. I do know that we should take care of the environment, and that God is against both abortion and gay marriages. I also know that Ralph Nader should stop running for president. Regardless of who is voted in, our job is to pray fervently [james 5:16b] for them and the decisions they will make and be actively involved in the issues we are concerned about. [whether through protests, money, letters, etc…]
    Brittany Schoppen

  7. kellylynnm7 says:

    When we live in a highly privatized and individualized society, what kind of social ethic is there available for a community oriented faith?  It is commonly perceived that Jesus did not offer a relevant social ethic since he lived in different context than our own and dealt with primarily the spiritual rather than the social matters.  But in the words of John Howard Yoder, “The Gospel record refuses to let the modern social ethicist off the hook.  It is quite possible to refuse to accept Jesus as normative; but it is not possible on the basis of the record to declare him irrelevant” (99).  Jesus’ message was first and most importantly the kingdom of God, which was an immediate political phrase. 

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