Thursday, September 04, 2008

Faith and Politics

(In response to a conversation taking place at my Facebook...)

Admittedly, I've been engaged and perhaps even a bit swept away with the coming election and the political, governmental, and social issues it stirs up. Here are a few fresh thoughts God's been working out in my heart these past few days as I've slowed down to reflect on it all.

1) Politics as we know it - a human institution based on human control - is a reality separated from God's plan for the world. Even Israel's move toward monarchy, the first formalized political institution in their national history, was a move away from God... one that he judged was actually a form of rejecting him.

That being the case, God graciously works within the broken structures we imagine (even our institutional religious models). It's influencing me to feel differently about my political / governmental involvement. Instead of assuming involvement based on principles and ideals, I'm beginning to lean back toward a less formulaic and more moment-by-moment dependence on God's leading as to whether or not, and then how, I should involve myself politically. Perhaps even every voting opportunity should prompt us to ask him what he wants to do through us. At times, he may will that we abstain from voting. At other times he may lead us in unexpected voting directions.

2) With that new attitude emerging in me, I'm discovering a new level (and challenge) of trust in God's presence and involvement in all human affairs. If there is any universal principle, it seems to me that it has less to do with "right vs. wrong" than with love. To truly love requires utter, moment by moment, dependence on God. A rejection of our independence and personal rights. Perhaps even our independent right to vote.

3) To stray a bit from this direction, I might suggest a thought regarding the abortion issue simply to open up our minds to whatever surprising ways God might work. I'd like to suggest it may not be so much a question of whether or not a president is pro-life or pro-choice but, rather, what effect will they have on the number of abortion-related deaths during their term. I believe the last time the issue came before the Supreme Court was in 2000. It's difficult to say when, or even if, it might ever come up for vote again.

On that note, John McCain seems to suggest he would push for tighter restrictions on abortion. Barack Obama seems to suggest he would push to eliminate the source causes for unwanted pregnancy and abortion to begin with. Ironically, it may be the latter which reduces the overall abortion numbers more than the previous.

** Even so, I return to my first thought... I might be pushing too hard to control and influence government as an expression of my own independent self-reliance. Here I think of two contrasting examples: 1) Martin Luther and 2) the Anabaptists. Whom do you think is closer to the heart of God for human living?


duncanmcf said...

John, good to hear your thoughts - I wonder why is it that the debate is around the battleground of abortion, but not around human life full stop. So shouldn't that include capital punishment, the war on terror, police carrying guns, the war in Iraq? Aren't these all acts of uninvited killings carried out by people? Why aren't Christians as much FOR care for mothers with unplanned babies as they are against abortions?

John Lynch said...

Great point, brother. We're discussing that stuff at my Facebook location now. Check it out! I'd love to have you chime in! (Lemme know if I need to invite you or something... I not real quick with Facebook)

Mike Moore said...


If I have to choose, or cast my vote, I would definitely lean towards the Anabaptist side. They get chastised for separating from the world. Luther's side is great at jumping into society and redeeming it. So from a Lutheran perspective the Anabaptist seem to be secluding themselves. Yet, in my Anabaptist readings I find that they are seeking to engage the world but through subversive acts. These acts just might not include the societal definitions of "engagement."

John Lynch said...

I'm with you 100%, Mike. The kingdom of Christ is perhaps even more surprising than the subversiveness of the Anabaptist way of living. Instead of revolutionizing and reforming the broken, man-made structures of our day, it's as though he ignores them altogether... choosing to live and move and speak and act in a different reality. A reality in which God is present. A reality in which love drives us. A reality in which death and suffering are no longer threatening in view of the grander picture of God's redemption of and through them.

Anonymous said...

Hey John

Politics seems to require a balance between being true to a philosophical ideal and the pursuit of what is doable in the public square, where all those disagreeable people dwell.

Your focus on the pragmatic has merit. Strongly democratic, pro-life Catholics adopt this rationale in supporting pro-choice candidates who otherwise have strong anti-poverty credentials. Whatever belief one has on underlying causation and outcomes on abortion behavior, silence to me seems unconscionable in the expression of our ideal of valuing the unborn. Pro-life democrats, cowed into silence due to their minority status, do not help their party or the pro-life cause by silence or a weak expression of dissent. Christian ideals still matter more than pragmatic outcomes in my view and shouldn't be sacrificed. Letting pro-abortion candidates off the hook doesn't help the greater culture or the cause of Christ.

Bob H