The political debates between republicans have been an embarrassment. They are a big turn-off to the political process.
What will it be like when the parties go up against each other?
When the behavior of men seeking the highest office of leadership in our land can be described as anything from childish and immature to bitter and divisive, it encourages people to pull back from politics in disillusioned disgust.
Given the ugly polarization and divisive tone we’ve repeatedly observed, I understand why many Christians want to distance themselves from the whole project.
It seems that no matter how graciously we engage, we risk being misunderstood or pinned with guilt by association.
It’s not surprising to hear the old line emerge, “Just preach the gospel.”
Backing out of political engagement is often based on the question, “Where do you see Jesus or the apostles getting involved in politics?”
But this is not a good line of reasoning because it’s an argument from silence and it overlooks the fact that those who lived during history represented in the Bible were not part of democratic forms of government.
We are simply not living in the same political situation as Jesus or the apostles. This is part of what makes our function a little more complicated. We are part of a participatory system where we have the opportunity to influence the formation of laws and policies for the common good.
We cannot use arguments from silence to negate a calling to responsible citizenship.
As we pursue a common good with others and each one brings his or her beliefs, morals and values to the discussion, robust and respectful debate is often necessary. We must not shy from engagement or feel spiritually obligated to marginalize our voice.
Yet we should not approach engagement as an effort to win culture wars. Such language (and the demeanor that often accompanies it) is not fitting to responsible Christian participation in a representative forms of democracy.
Let’s not, however, go to the other extreme and spiritualize political passivity as humble service when we are given clear opportunity to be engaged.
Let’s be as informed as possible and speak the truth with boldness while being considerate and kind toward opponents.
Backing out of political engagement is not a responsible option for obedient Christians. I believe it is a contradiction of our identity as salt to the earth and light to the world.
Russell Moore does a good job outlining the nature of the calling for engagement,
“We engage politically because we love our neighbors, we care about human flourishing. But we do so at multiple fronts. We engage on Capitol Hill (as I do), on issues ranging from stopping the abortion industry, to protecting religious liberty, to speaking out for human rights for the persecuted overseas. We cultivate churches that see the holistic nature of the kingdom of God and who shape consciences of people to live as citizens. But we always do that with a focus that we are not prosecuting attorneys but defense attorneys. We are seeking, ultimately, to point people to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”