Christianity and Elections

How about a two for one?  Along with Tony Compolo’s blog, Mennonite Weekly put out a blog article asking about what Jesus would think about our elections.  This feeds into the previous blog article about Jesus for president.  Read it below.

So, this approaches things from another perspective, beyond just what Jesus would do as president but what Jesus would do with the whole election process.  Personally, I like the idea of being “apolitical”.  Now, as the guy writing the article points out, this does not mean “anti-politics” necessarily.  It means, instead, that politics hold no real importance or priority.

I was curious about this as I have a dear friend on Facebook who is an abbas for a Benedictine order that aligns pretty closely with an Eastern Orthodox expression of faith.  This abbas mentioned that part of that expression of faith generally states that political activism is discouraged.  Not that it is proscribed, but discouraged.  I presented her with this same article and she responded with a piece of writing from a Fr. Stephen.  I provide the quote here:

The State is an illusion (a very dangerous illusion). It is an illusion in that it has no particular standing within the Divine scheme. States are secular entities, the inventions of man for his own reasons, and are therefore illusory (in an ontological sense). The Kingdoms of this World will become the Kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ – Scripture tells us (but not until the end of all things).

Having said that the State is an illusion doesn’t mean that I think you or I should try and make it disappear. I simply think the State should be extremely relativized in the thought of Christians pursuing the Kingdom of God. The State will not usher in the Kingdom, nor make it move further away or come closer.

As soon as we agree that we are responsible for the outcome of history, we have agreed to do murder.

I am not responsible for the outcome of history – God is. The current world drama is an act upon a stage written by those who believe they are responsible for history’s outcome.

It is this aspect of “extremely relativized” that I find most intriguing.  It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be involved in politics, but it does mean that, relatively speaking towards other praxis of the faith, it should be taken as a much lesser priority.

What does this mean?  It means that we live in a country where we have a very special freedom not afforded to many societies in the past or even in our present day, a freedom where we have a means of influencing our government through the voice of the vote and through the ability and right to speak freely on such topics.  This is something that Jesus didn’t have necessarily so we can’t necessarily say that he wouldn’t use it.  But when pressed on matters of national and international politics, Jesus gave it very short shrift.  Little was spoken about it, little was acted on, it seems, according to the gospels, that Jesus had more important things on his mind.

So, for myself, I will vote when it seems that there is something to “speak” about, I will give voice to issues that I think are important.  However, these are actions and items that I do not see as vital to the Christian life.  While Christians in the US can engage in them, if they were taken away from us I don’t see that we should feel we should do anything different.  The Christian life is not about voting, campaigning, and lobbying.  There are more important things.

Now, this is just my opinion.  Let me put the question out there again:

What do you think?  How vital is US political activities to expressing the Christian faith?

As before, please note that this is not intended to start a debate as to whether or not democrats or republicans are more right or whether or not democracy is the right kind of government.  It is more a question of whether or not such political power should be a central part to the Christian life in the US.  If debates start getting out of control, much as I don’t like to do so, I will exercise my moderator privileges and remove such comments.

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