Sunday, July 25, 2004

Getting It Right.... 

While I have been very critical of John Whitehead in recent posts, his latest posting on Razormouth, is a good one for all serious Christians to read. He expresses his concern that churches will become associated with any one political party or too wrapped up in politics and lose focus on what's important, namely bringing the Gospel of Christ to all the earth. When talking about gay marriage, my pastor, Dan Clay put it like this, "What is the worst that can happen? Homosexuals will be allowed to marry and have full benefits that are currently reserved for heterosexuals. Does this mean that the kingdom of God will stop growing or that the Gospel will stop being preached?"

I am in full agreement with Mr. Whitehead on this issue the more I have thought about the nature of the church and its place in the world and society. The church ought to remain skeptical and distant from the state's power because that kind of power can, will and does corrupt. A stark example of this kind of corruption is what happened when the Christian Democratic Party under Helmut Kohl took a severe beating after it was learned that Kohl had accepted French campaign contributions in exchange for Germany joining the EU. The power that the state has is a temporary power, the power of the sword or chariot as the Scriptures would describe it. When the church becomes dialed in on political power and influence to the exclusion of other kinds of influence in the larger culture, everyone is impoverished. I believe that every facet of man's culture and society is to be brought under the lordship of Christ and this goes far beyond politics. On the issue of gay marriage, Christians would do well to seriously address their own marriages and to get serious about the issue. If my brothers and sisters in Christ want to undo the homosexual marriage movement, then we must get serious about preventing divorce and premarital sex. Men must be encouraged strongly to look for wives and women for their part must be taught to look for a husband.

I have only minor quibbles with the Whitehead piece. First, the Kerry/Edwards campaign is probably just as ideally aggressive in pursuing religious voters. Yes, the Bushies are aggressive about courting Christian voters, but then again, many Christians make up the heart and soul of the GOP base. If I remember rightly, evangelicals voted for Bush roughly 60-40 in 2000. Many Christian Coalition members are now part of the Republican Party leadership a Campaigns and Elections study found in either 2000 or 2002 (I don't remember exactly which year). Also, it is perfectly natural for Christians to flock to one party or another. One hundred years ago, it was the Democrats who were the home of many Christians and it was Republican William Blaine who helped put legislative and philosophical teeth into the contemporary doctrine of church/state separation.

The church is called by Christ to Himself to be a
...a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
I Peter 2:9 (KJV)
The job and purpose of the church is to preach the Gospel of salvation to all men in every tribe, nation and tongue and to administer the Sacraments and to trust that God will work through His appointed means to bring men, women and nations to faith and repentance. That isn't to say that Christians shouldn't be involved in the political process, because both Mr. Whitehead, Mr. Clay and myself will tell you that we should be involved, but we must keep things in their right perspective.

Political activism is good and right regardless which side of the political spectrum a person may find themselves. But the campaigns and the kings of this world are like the grass that withers and is blown away. Christians should instead focus their worship and their energies on worshipping Jesus Christ and redeeming the society to an eternal kingdom and reward. May God Almighty strengthen us to that end. Amen

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