It seems like I’ve seen more headlines concerning Christian “persecution” this week than any other. Here’s a sampling: The conservative Parents Television Council says that television is anti-religious. Here in Oklahoma, there’s a lot of controversy over a Nativity being removed from a school play. The superintendent of an Ohio high school cut a Christian band from a school event. And, various corporations aren’t supporting the traditional Christmas rhetoric in their sales promotions.
Of course, the response from all the conservative pundits and all the talking heads seems to be this: We need a campaign to stop them. The prevailing wisdom amongst the right-wing Christian community says that if we could just boycott enough corporations, re-call enough politicians and flex the collective muscle of evangelicals, then we can win.
I can’t help but step back from this whole scene and ask the obvious question: Win what? With the majority of this readership coming from a politically conservative or libertarian standpoint and having traditional ideas about morality, I ask this question: What matters? I know we’re all going to name God, family, friends and on down the list of priorities. But, let’s think about this: If God is truly at the top of what matters, how is that reality fleshed out in the political scene? As fellow WND columnist Jerry Falwell re-ignites his “Moral Majority,” it’s important that we think about what the proper relationship between Christians and politics is.
I’ve been writing my column for over three years now, and I’ve been following politics for at least that long. Coming from such a perspective, the more I think about this relationship between a Christian and the political scene, the more I think that there’s something wrong going on here – that the way the evangelical community flexes it muscle isn’t really that Christ-like.
Looking at the Bible as a whole, it seems as if God is concerned about community. The way He communicated with people throughout the Old Testament was in addressing communities and leaving messages for humanity. In the New Testament, we see the majority of teaching addressed to communities. In Acts, we see a beautiful picture of Christian community fleshed out.
Traditionally, in America we value individualism – we have a capitalist market and a constitutional republic. And, that’s probably as moral a system we could arrive at. However, this Western idea of individualism when grafted onto Christian spirituality creates a problem, because it immediately turns into a power struggle.
Self-interest is a very important part of capitalism, but it doesn’t work when applied to Christian spirituality. Everyone immediately recognizes this, so we compartmentalize our lives. In politics, we realize that the selfless nature of Christ doesn’t work, so we espouse a double standard: endorsing “Christian values” while leaving behind selflessness.
The Christian right wing is sincere, it appears, in its ideals of government and society, but the means by which to accomplish these things requires us to shed a Christ-life selflessness and join the power struggle. Politics is dirty, and even the morality candidates use scare tactics and empty rhetoric.
I received a lot of letters because of my latest column, and a lot of them supported this basic argument: If we don’t do anything, then immorality will increase and Christianity may even be outlawed. That’s a fine thing to be concerned about, for sure. However, let’s assume for a moment that the “moral preservation” of government and cultural integrity is the chief end of man. What lasts? What will really change things? Laws will not. Strangely enough, we act as if legislation will change everything. Here’s the truth: Our nation will change when the desires of its people change. A lot of people on the right buy into this idea of desires, but they speak of revival as if the end goal is its political influence.
That’s a sick way of looking at revival – as a means to gain more power. At the end of the day, if conservatives run everything and America becomes the utopia Jerry Falwell hoped it would be, we still need to face up to our own mortality.