11/3/10

Faith in Politics

Why We Die a Slow Death
By: Jonathan Harris

I'm sure the title and subtitle of this post look about as depressing as they come, especially for a day such as today. Republicans have captured the House of Representatives, and are almost deadlocked in the Senate. Shouldn't we conservatives be happy? In a way I am, though I'll admit, it's a bit harder to be happy in New York (or to look at California where I'm moving in January). While both the congressional delegates (formerly democrats) went to Republicans, the Senators and Governor received very comfortable victories as liberal Democrats in my state. In California the Democrats made gains in the governor's office (Jerry Brown), and managed to hold on to Barbara Boxer's senate seat. This does slightly mar my excitement. I figured if in any political climate New York and California were able to make a better choice it would be this one. Looking at the nation as a whole however, it's clear that conservatives are making a comeback. It's exciting in one sense, and yes I am thanking the Lord for this, but in another sense I know this will not be the America my children grow up in. It won't last. Why do I say this? Partially because of the exit polls which show that it's really the elderly (and some middle age) Americans to which this victory is made possible, partially because the ethnic minorities (from socialist countries especially) are overwhelmingly Democrat and their numbers are going up significantly, and mostly because I've noticed a grand shift in conservatism over the last two years. Libertarianism is making huge inroads. Some of you who follow politics closely remember CPAC this year and how Ron Paul was nominated to be candidate for president. The Tea Party itself is not about being pro-family or pro-God (though some in the Bible belt especially have incorporated this), but about being fiscally responsible. I'm all for fiscal accountability and so is the Bible, but separating this from morality (though we all know economics is moral) is a huge mistake which fortunately most Republicans haven't made yet, but are making in larger and larger quantities. As I've stated in a previous post:

Mike Huckabee- in his critique of libertarianism- has long maintained, "Poverty and crime are the direct results of broken families and broken values of responsibility, work, marriage, and respect of others." In other words, there is a connection between social and economic issues. When the family drops the ball, the government is more than happy to come in and pick up the slack.

Also, the Tea Party is not exactly grounded in principle. In other words which one of their members can answer the question, "Why should we be for lower taxes, less spending, and fiscal accountability?" They have a variety or reasons depending on which member is being asked. So it's a broad coalition. That doesn't make it wrong in its goal. It just makes it scary in its means. I'm feeling more and more like we have two competing parties of humanism. One side says, "We'll take your money and spend it better for you." The other says, "I'll keep my money and spend it better for me." Which one besides the "radical" Christian wing of the conservative line says, "We'll keep God's money and spend it for Him."

So now more to the point. In America we have an election every two years. That means that every two years we have hope in setting up a completely different form of government (or so we think). If you listen to any of the talk show hosts you'll hear them constantly talking about how pivotal this election is and "if we can just do it" we'll change the country forever "blah blah blah." I'm here to say, yes we should vote, yes we can change a couple things in the short term, but no none of this is lasting. Politics is just a reflection of what society already believes. Sarah Palin can't "Restore America" through elections alone. Only the Holy Spirit aided by able grassroots missionaries on every level (especially the local church) can change hearts and minds. When we throw out the principles (like the Bible) and just support popular issues (that are consistent with the Bible) our authority has been replaced. Conservatives are the new utilitarians. What about the ones that rightly see society as being responsible for politics and see the church as having a responsibility to vote for righteous individuals (i.e. Huckabee for instance)? Imagine with me for a moment that every Republican was a social and fiscal conservative, believed in the Bible, and took it seriously etc. Would anything change long term? The answer is, not really and it goes back to the talk show hosts yelping about an election every two years. I believe the two year election cycle is one event which kills any ideas regarding secession, nullification, revolution, etc. simply because we "hold out." At the very worst we have two years to wait until we can "take over" for our side. Is this accurate? No! I can see the founders sitting around debating who they'll run against the Torys (had their been an election every two years in the colonies) to really win big this time. The reality is culture doesn't change significantly in a two year period. The culture is on a downward slide constantly (just look at the numbers for those who support same-sex marriage over the last ten years), and Christians think an election will somehow change it back every two years? So what's the answer?

First, realize that elections are reflections of society, not movers of it. Second, realize that their are other political solutions outside of federal elections (i.e. Christian exodus, nullification, secession, revival, constitutional convention). Third, share this stuff with your Sean Hannity listening Christian friends. Get them off this "election" drug and onto real meat (the Word of God). I often wonder how much time Christian conservatives watch Fox News compared to how much time they read the Bible. Fourthly, evangelize! Spend more time sharing your faith then your political persuasion. Now I realize that your political persuasion should reflect God's justice, so yes we need to trumpet it, and yes it's an integral part of our faith, but no it will not change minds in the true sense of the word alone. It may convince some under a utilitarian framework to agree with you for wrong reasons, but without the Holy Spirit (value in Biblical authority) it won't do a thing to get at the root of wrong-thinking in an unbelievers mind. So share the Gospel! If someone truly believes it, they'll  inevitably eventually become conservative, even if they aren't currently. Fifthly, be optimistic in light of both political wins and losses. We have a joy which cannot be taken away. God appoints the rulers. We rest in His sovereignty because he's in control. This is a very comforting thought.

For today feel free to "Rejoice with those who rejoice." Just don't forget the big picture.

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