Thursday, October 11, 2007

The perfect and the good, part II

I had no idea that my post on abortion and evangelical politics would generate such a lengthy discussion. At least I now know how to get comments on my blog. However, rather than simply join in with the comments, now that I have (alas, temporarily!) emerged from my Vicodin haze, I wanted to offer a few more comments regarding this subject.

Thought One: According to the New Testament (e.g. Rom. 13:4-5; 1 Pet. 2:13-14), the purpose of a human government is to punish evil and uphold righteousness. Thus, it seems to me that where Christians can influence the direction of their government toward the upholding of righteousness and the diminishment/punishment of evil, they should do so. To me, that means voting for the candidate who is 1) likely to win and 2) whose election will have the actual result of diminishing evil and upholding good while 3) recognizing that the candidate who meets criteria 1 might not diminish evil as much as one who does not, but who might nevertheless diminish evil more than the other alternatives on the other side of the aisle.

Thought Two: Comments regarding the issues that Jesus and/or Paul did not address to me miss the point. As the leaders of miniscule movements and subjects of an imperial monarchy, neither Jesus nor Paul were in any position to alter the direction of their government. Thus, when they speak of government, they speak of giving government its due and obedience to governing authorities. A government situation in which Christians can not only vote, lobby, and give money to candidates but also hold high office is a totally different situation, which might merit slightly different theological emphases.

Thought Three: While my theology does teach me that things will trend from bad to worse, it also tells me that this does not grant me an excuse for doing nothing or doing counterproductive things. We celebrate Wilberforce, but no Wilberforce could have arisen granted the assumption that slavery was a permanent fixture that would always expand. Where evil can be beaten back, it should be. Moreover, though our Kingdom is not of this world, it does not mean we should allow the one in which we live as "aliens and strangers" (1 Pet. 2:11), to inexorably slide toward evil without any intervention from us. Anyone we love, we prevent from harming themselves. How does inaction (or minimal action) demonstrate love for our lost neighbors?

Thought Four: As Christian voters, our job is to work for the reduction of evil in our society. Abortion is a vast evil that should be eliminated to the degree possible. If it is only possible today to get a small reduction (i.e., by electing a pro-choice conservative like Guliani), that is still better than getting an increase in abortion (as would likely happen under any of the Dems). It is more important, IMHO, to preserve what children's lives we can than to take a stand on principle and indirectly be responsible for increasing the unborn death rate.

Thought Five: Though Christian's political positions on issues like homosexuality and abortion get a ton of press, Christians actually devote comparatively little time, energy and money to politics. For example, one missions organization (Campus Crusade) has an annual budget of $300 million+. That is more than the Bush and Kerry campaigns spent combined in 2004. By the time you factor in all of the money, time, and energy spent on all of the other kingdom causes (other missions organizations, churches, camps, etc.) it vastly outweighs Christian involvement in political causes. I believe this is as it should be, yet a little money spent on politics at this stage might help us with our goals rather than placing us in the odd position of shouting from outside the tent about what we want to happen inside it.

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