Monday, September 01, 2008

Politics and Religion

I try to keep my political opinions to myself and keep them out of this blog. Religion is enough to think and worry about for me right now. I can’t imagine trying to do justice to both.

I know many families have the general rule, when they get together, of no talk of either politics or religion. They both cause the same trouble and lead to the same arguments. It’s because religion and politics don’t mix very well. Just ask Cameron Strang, editor of Relevant Magazine. Who would have thought that being invited to say a prayer at this year’s DNC would cause such a ruckus? It’s a prayer, crying out loud.

I have to admit that when I saw Rick Warren throw himself into the political arena by hosting a debate at his church, I was a bit worried that he might yet become another evangelical leader seduced by the power that politics provides. The only reason he got the opportunity to do that was because he has power in the religious arena. Selling millions of books gets you noticed.

I’m not saying people of faith shouldn’t be involved politically. All I ask and hope for is that they don’t make the same mistakes in politics as has happened in the Church As We Know It.

People on the Right, or the Left or In The Church have this in common; they have the tendency to act as if their worldview is iron clad and has no holes.

You will never hear James Carville, Sean Hannity and The Bible Answer Man allude to any kind of doubt or question or uncertainty with whatever position they are defending.

I just wish for once, in the midst of all the hype and spin, that I could hear some honest struggle. Tension exists between the Left and Right, but seldom can we talk about the tension within.

It always bugged me as a young man of growing faith that I could never get an answer from a person in clergical authority that was not in the form of chapter and verse defenses. I would walk away feeling I was wrong and he was right, and there wasn’t much I could do about it.

I guess I carry that same suspicion into this election season. I seldom find people on either side politically who are fully committed to their cause that can tell me anything they are concerned about in their own position.

Future Pastor, as you feel the need to become more politically active, don’t be quick to proclaim certainty without humility. State your beliefs, and do so with an awareness that your position will always be held in tension with others around you. Be gracious to those who misunderstand you. It’s more important to love well than to be right.


Leslie said...

Well stated Kevin. My red flag goes up when I can't stand listening to the side I agree with, at least theoretically.

I had a good time blogging about the campaign but I just stopped because both people who agreed with me and disagreed with me could not be civil, reasonable, or (most importantly) compassionate about the side they disagree with.

Vance said...

What sage advice! As one of those overly opinionated guys who has a hard time understanding "the other side," I need that counsel from time to time. I loved your closing caution: "Be gracious to those who misunderstand you. It’s more important to love well than to be right."

No matter who takes the oath in January, God will still be on the throne, still the Blessed Controler of All Things, and still able to turn the hearts of kings and rulers like rivers of water. Neither the candidates nor the voters are going to catch God by surprise.

Kansas Bob said...

Got here from Julie's place - iked your comment there.

I wonder where our need to be right comes from? Maybe it is all about our need to be in control.. kind of a fear based thing.. interesting when you think of how little we have control over.

Religious people so often are insecure and cling to simplistic right and wrong thinking because mystery rattles them.. they are not comfortable living in the gray areas. Too bad because most of life is gray.