My friend and I had a brief discussion today about the proper role of Christians in politics, a discussion that was prompted by the common secular refrain that Christians should avoid trying to “impose” their beliefs on others through legislation, i.e. voting. We could probably argue for all eternity about the true meaning of the concept of being “in the world and not of the world” (a paraphrase of John 15.19). It is my belief that in order to reconcile our command to make believers of all with our command to live by Christ’s teachings, we cannot exclude introducing those we hope to be believers to those teachings. From a more practical, just standpoint, why do secularists get to do so much belief imposing while we should sit aside and wait for God to act?
Wait for God to act, right? Yes, pray, but how does God typically act? Is it a thunderbolt from the sky? A booming voice in the clouds? He acts through us! We act on His behalf and yes that even includes voting, political activism and other uses of the inherent power of the state and the mechanisms set up by the state for individuals to act as policy influencers.
My friend argues that not acting, as an opportunity to bring upon persecution (say the state decides to ban Christianity) is a worthwhile step as that persecution is what we should welcome. But here is the problem. If we sit back and never say “Abortion is wrong! Gay marriage is wrong! Capital Punishment, unjust war, and ignoring the sick and poor are all wrong!” we will never be persecuted! Persecution only comes when someone stands up to the wrongdoers. Christians sitting on their collective butts will not bring persecution and it certainly will not bring Parousia. What it will bring is irrelevancy and, I would guess, Satan’s will being done on a massive scale.
I am not calling for Christians to be Republicans or Democrats, liberals nor conservatives. The teachings of Christ are decidedly independent and non-partisan. Even better than the one time promise of our current American President, Christ is absolutely pre-partisan. I am calling for Christians to be vocal outside of the Church instead of allowing this world we are in to be shaped by those who may well not be of the one we claim to inhabit. You may shy away from imposing your beliefs on others but you are naive to think others–today’s secularists are not very much different from the Caliphs that prompted the Crusades–are not going to be very enthusiastic about imposing their beliefs on you.