Friday, December 9, 2011

God and Laws

I hate American politics, but I think about them a lot. I just noticed that I have two blog posts related to politics that are unpublished. I think this is because politics are so petty and polarizing and do little to stimulate the type of thought and discussion that bares good fruit, so I'll write something I might feel is important, read it, realize it will only breed friction, and then file it away. 

However, this topic really intrigues me, and since it's more of a spiritual approach I'm hoping when I finish I'll have the inclination to hit "Publish Post."

Where is God in politics? How do you reconcile what you believe with any form of political activism? What would Jesus do?

I was sitting around with a group of friends last week and we asked ourselves these questions. 

One of my friends was hurt by how people have used politics to take Christian prayer out of schools, and also lobbied to ban the Ten Commandments from display on public property. She was sad that teachers could no longer teach Christian history, and she wondered what would come of all this. She was sincere. She only wished that kids would have the opportunity to learn about the love of Jesus. 

Some of my other friends spoke up about how Christianity is portrayed in politics. They didn't like the right-wing pundits who claimed Christianity. They seemed fake. We all agreed that we didn't like Christians being defined by being anti-gay and anti-abortion or pro-war. We agreed that Christians should stand for justice and peace, not persecution of any group, that we should never challenge or demean our enemies, we should love them. (Matthew 5:9, Psalm 82:3Matthew 5:44, Luke 10:25-37).

So how do we do all that? How do we cultivate those ideals within our current political system, and in the face of such polarization?

This was a tough question. I think our natural reaction is to fight laws that seem to us as "Anti-Christian." We tend to (out of sincere concern) gravitate towards the idea that America will be damned if there isn't Bible reading in schools, prayer in Congress, and God in the Pledge of Allegiance. We're taught that our country is drifting farther and farther from the beliefs on which is was founded. The idea has been propagated that we used to be a Christian nation, but now we're drifting from the good graces of God. We're told by some that we're heading down the wrong path to destruction, and we must get politically active in order to turn our course back to God.

I have to tell you, I don't believe any of this. When was America a Christ-like nation? When we stole land from the Natives? Slaughtered men, women and children in cold blood? Used slavery and persecution to build our country? How about as early as the 1960's when racism was political POLICY (For more on this, read THIS book). Sure, our forefathers wrote God on things, but did that automatically make them Godly? And furthermore, does it even matter outside of perpetuating a political agenda that's impetus is millions in donations?

Let's go back to what started this whole America thing.
To sum it up, Puritans were facing persecution from the Catholic majority. Terrible things were happening. So they left to take religious refuge in the New World. To read more on Religious persecution that helped found America go here

When we read history, time and time again we learn this simple equation: Religion + Power = Persecution. Our forefathers knew this, that is why they believed very strongly in the separation of Church and State. You don't have to be persecuted to know this, you can just read about crusaders slaughtering "heathens" or conquistadors "converting" savages at sword-point. Power corrupts, it wants to control. Power wants to be God and to judge what is good and what isn't (Luke 6:37, Matthew 7:1-5).

There are people in this country who, in the face of such obvious truth to the contrary, would want history to repeat itself. Some people actually want a Christian majority so that they can legally ban homosexuality or whatever is maddening them this week. They literally want power in order to persecute people. That is scary. It's also anti-Jesus, which is even more scary considering the implications of who else might be behind this movement.

As far as Christians being more and more of a political minority, I'm in favor of it. True Christianity flourishes through extreme persecution.

Why are we so afraid of persecution? Do Christians forget how this whole thing started? After Jesus left Christians were being hunted from house to house, thrown in prison, beaten and stoned to death, hung, filleted alive by knives, burned to the stake, crucified, and their numbers dramatically INCREASED! You see the same thing happening in China over the last fifty years. If you ask me, I say go ahead and ban Christianity. At least then we'll know who the real ones are. I am not afraid of persecution, I welcome it. It'll separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. This whole thing about fighting for a "Christian Political Majority" flies totally in the face of what Jesus established with the early church.

Think about it. Jesus said He came as a "humble servant," to "Seek and to save that which was lost." He said things like "the last shall be first" and "blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." How can you reconcile these words of Jesus with grasping for political power?: 

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." - Mark 9:35

The truth is, you can't.

Changing laws to coincide with morals doesn't change hearts, it only allows for persecution, violence, and hate. Unless of course they're changed for freedom or justice.

I think the place for Christianity in politics is not on the "moral-crusading" end, but on the justice end. Christian organizations like the International Justice Mission use global laws to free the persecuted and seek punishment for their captors. It's amazing the good that can come from people who take this verse literally:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

- James 1:27

How can anyone fight that?

Instead of Christianity being defined by the right-wing, anti-whatever vitriol, it'd be nice to have it be defined as loving, justice-seeking, poor-serving, and actually Jesus-following.

Those are just my thoughts on the matter.

For more on what Jesus thought about the Religious Political Majority in His day, read Matthew 23.


  1. "If you ask me, I say go ahead and ban Christianity. At least then we'll know who the real ones are." This is exactly how I've been feeling.

  2. wow this is a very interesting idea, and you're completely right that this country has never been a Christian nation...thanks for posting this, it's given me a lot to think about

  3. Pretty powerful stuff as usual. I've never really cared for politics and I avoid them like the plaque! But I can see your point, we have never really been a Christian nation, just a nation "founded under God" by people looking for religious freedom. The thing that bothers me most, is that people are free to be everything and anything they want but followers of Christ! But Christ warned us from the very beginning how we would be treated in John 15:21 "They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me." And Paul reenforces it again in 2 Timothy 3:12&13 "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."

    But I must say I was expecting something a bit different for your next post, something about when your daughter was born, how big, her weight, her name and a story as to how and why you picked that particular one!

  4. There isn't much of a chance for Christianity to be banned unless Christians really act like Christians.

  5. as christians, we arent supposed to worry about offending people by telling them that homosexuals are called abominations by god. WE should wnt to ban it. destroy it. not violently. but get rid of it still.............idk about americas beginings too much, but we were a faith based country back when we were first conceived, and we have drifted away ever since.....such are my thoughts..... *fails*

  6. New to your blog, stoked that I found it.

    You're speaking to my soul here, Matt. I am refreshed - no, inspired - when I see how Jesus lived his life so apolitically. In our culture this is an absurd idea, but Jesus actually seems to BELIEVE that living out the message of Grace & Truth (John 1:18) will shake the world more than any political agenda possibly could.

    Stated another way: how fascinating that the Deus Homo would choose to change the world through the role of a wandering prophet and reject every opportunity to rise to a place of political prominence? Forget the presidency of the United States; according to Jesus' example, I'm already on the front lines of the cosmic battle for humanity's soul.

  7. As an aspiring history teacher, this post was really interesting to me. I have always believed that America was faith-based but honestly you have changed my mind. I agree with what you have said, especially about taking land and persecuting the Native Americans. An old youth pastor of mine was of the same mind as you when you talk about seperating the wheat from the chaff and I have to agree. I wish Christians were more real and not some religious sect that drives everyone nuts. We are called to be Christ-like and honestly not much of that is seen today, which is so unfortunate. It isn't just about making appearance on Sunday and then going back home with nothing. Being like Christ is about the way you live and the way you inspire others to live by directly affecting their lives or even just by seeing you. I always think about what if everyone who called themselves Christian lived the way they were called to. What the world be like? I sure think it would be a fantastic change. And many people would be more attracted to the way we are because of how we love people. We would be known for love, not for freaking out in gay rights. That's not something I wanna be known for. And sure if we lived like the Christians of old I'm sure we would be persecuted, but didn't Jesus say we would? But he also told us that heaven is so totally worth it. I believe him. So to relate to politics, it's important for us to keep Christian values in mind but it's also important to realize we don't have to fit the stereotype of anti-abortion and anti-gay, we don't have to vote for the most Christian candidate or the best way to further Christianity. We can leave God's plan up to God and we can vote as Christians but we don't have to represent Christianity as a whole. I think that's what I'm trying to say. Sorry if that doesn't make sense, it did in my head.

    Sorry for ranting on your blog Matt... :/

    And by the way, you told me at a Newport Oregon concert in 2010 that you felt like people didn't read your blog, I stand by what I said which is I definitely think people do and I think what you have to say is inspiring and incredible and thak you so much for your posts!

  8. I guess the early americans looked a little more like the israelites of the old testament than the Christ followers of the new. While I agree with a lot of what you have to say, I do think we need to be vocal on some hot button issues regardless of perception. The right to life, for instance, is a "love" issue. We love babies and believe God when He said that He knew us in our mother's womb. Out of that love we should speak for the unborn who are unable to speak for themselves. I struggle with how to approach the homosexualality issue because I do believe it's a sin, but we have plenty of things in our country that are sins that are not enforced legally. I do not hate homosexuals, but I won't lie and say that God is okay with their behavior. All in all, I do wish we were identified "by our love" and not by the things we oppose. Thanks for posting.