Friday, September 10, 2010

Moral Politics

I am generally skeptical about the politicalization of moral and religious issues. Often politicians use these issues to manipulate and motivate the Christian electorate to further their own agendas rather than having any particular commitment to those issues themselves. This, of course, is nothing new but sadly as American Christians we often contribute to the problem by responding as expected, on cue.  

I fully recognize the importance of having Christian interests represented in the public square and of the need to fight to ensure that our rights to practice our religion are protected but I cannot help feeling that at times we have a bit of a herd mentality. We are called to be light and salt and we are supposed to be passionate about moral issues but all that glitters is not gold. Our main focus should be on the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we truly have any hope in the face of this swelling tide of immoralism it is not in a grass roots movement but rather in the ultimate top down solution, the Gospel. The structures and mores of the society reflect the convictions of its people and unfortunately many who identify themselves as Christians have nothing to distinguish them from the rest of society when it comes to their convictions. We have failed to emphasize enough that Christian ethics are the result of something much deeper than civic responsibility.

Rather than trying to convince others to act morally for the sake of civility we need to witness to Christ in our own actions and speech. If Christians would take the same kind of energy and commitment that is being demonstrated in political action (i.e. tea parties etc.) and focus that energy (and those resources) in the ministry of their local churches I think we would be more successful in effecting meaningful change. Unless God builds the house those who labor do so in vain.

Russell D. Moore, dean of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently posted a good article dealing with the dangers of confusing conservative agendas with Christian agendas. I encourage you to read it, you can find it here: Moore on Beck.

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