My view on Christians and politics often gets challenged by fellow believers, and the most frequent objection I receive is that if Christians don’t join in the political battles (over abortion, gay marriage, free speech, etc.) then our culture will become even more “anti-Christian” and we will lose all these fights.
My response to that is twofold: First, our culture is becoming more “anti-Christian” all on its own, whether we fight these fights or not. In fact, it is often the unloving, vitriolic way in which Christians engage others politically that turns more folks toward anti-Christian views. Even when Christians take the time to calmly explain themselves in a logical manner, they still often receive such hateful labels as homophobe, xenophobe, racist, bigot, etc. It’s not often that the Christian view wins the day in any politically charged discussion or debate.
Second, there is always a loving way to respond to any controversial issue, and politics are mostly incompatible with love. Let me take abortion as an example, it being one of the most hotly contested issues of the day.
I think a majority of Christians wish that abortion was simply illegal, or at least not constitutionally protected (as decided in Roe v Wade). So a lot of money, time, and other resources have been devoted in an effort to overturn Roe and outlaw abortion. This fight often plays out on picket lines and other forms of public protest, and a lot of hope is placed in the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe.
The problem (as I see it) is that even if Roe were overturned—and this alone would meet with violent protests across America—the States would still have to individually pass laws outlawing or restricting abortion, and every one of those efforts would also be met by violent protests. Do not underestimate the level of ongoing violence that would ensue.
And even if that were to happen, it would not change one single person’s heart regarding abortion. Half the nation or more would still support abortion rights. Many doctors would still perform abortions illegally. Women who want abortions would still seek them out. We would be criminally prosecuting mostly low-income women for seeking or obtaining an abortion. And what about the babies–how many Christians are going to step up and adopt or care for these “unwanted” children? Or do we expect the state to come up with some sort of “unwanted children” housing solution?
In contrast to all this, the loving response to abortion (as I see it) would be to start seeking out or connecting with at-risk mothers and loving them toward a new baby. No one gets an abortion in a vacuum. There are always circumstances, most often financial, or domestic, or fear.
They can’t afford another child? Pledge to help them financially. They don’t know how to take care of a baby? Pledge to show them how, or take them somewhere where skills are taught. They are being threatened or pressured by a boyfriend or family? Help them find a safe place to stay, or temporarily take them in yourself. They are afraid? Tell them you will be there for them every step of the way. Love them in practical, active ways. Remove their reasons for abortion. Give them reasons to have their baby. Give them hope. Give them a Jesus who does more than accuse or condemn their choices–the REAL Jesus, who loves them.
In my neck of the woods there is one organization who does all this, supported by donations. They do a great job, and have helped more than 500 young mothers choose life in just the last few years. But they are only one organization, with limited resources and staff. Why don’t we have five such groups in my area? Why don’t we have a network of such groups in every state, supported by churches and individuals? (No tax dollars!)
I’ll venture a guess—many Christians don’t want to get personally involved. They don’t really love or care for pregnant mothers. It’s so much easier to shout, “Abortion is murder!” and post outraged memes on Facebook than it is to actually do something that matters.
Too much outrage, not enough love. Too much talk, not enough action. Too much faith in politics, hardly any faith in God working through YOU.
The same applies to other controversial issues. Instead of being outraged that gay marriage is legal, why not try loving those gay folks you know or work with? Why not show them how a person can disagree with their worldview yet still deeply care for their health and well-being? Are they aware that the Jesus you proclaim actually loves them, or do they think He hates them? (Based on what they’ve seen and heard from Christians)
For every issue, there is a loving and non-coercive response. Jesus loved. Jesus didn’t coerce or force people to choose Him. Jesus didn’t force anyone to be righteous, but He loved them and invited them. Are you loving and inviting, or do you just want to coerce?
America is not a theocracy, ruled over by God’s Law. But the Church is God’s people, and we are ruled over by a Master who died to redeem the lost, asking us to also make personal sacrifices in our efforts to lead the lost to redemption. Being outraged on Facebook never redeemed anyone. Changing the law never redeemed anyone. But the Love of Christ is the power of God.