I have been writing for the Portland, ME Examiner for a little over a week now. I write about Religion and Politics. I enjoy it a lot, but I realize that it is a subject area that is quite polarizing. Some Christians believe that we should have nothing to do with government. Many others believe it is our role to reform government either to help those in need or to impose Christian morality on society.
Because of the strong feelings and, often times, heated debate that goes with politics and religion I thought I would just give a brief synopsis on my feelings on Christian responsibility in politics.
Let me first state that it is a difficult topic to come to firm beliefs on, as many of the subjects are that we so heatedly debate. I guess if they weren’t difficult to find clear answers to then there wouldn’t be much room for debate. I find it difficult to have any real firm beliefs on Christian responsibility within government because, quite frankly, the concept is completely foreign to the New Testament. Christians did not participate in government. Rome ruled Israel and most of the known world during the time the New Testament was written and they certainly weren’t participating in any form of democracy. Jesus tells his followers to “render unto Caesar what Caesar is due.” Paul states that the government is appointed by God and should be obeyed. We see that the New Testament believers took it upon themselves to care for those in need, both long term as in the case with widows and orphans, and short term as in the case with the famine in Jerusalem, as opposed to requesting aid form the government. There simply is no connection between the oppressive dictatorship of the Caesar in Rome, and the liberties and dependencies which Americans, and Westernized nations in general, have in their governments.
So, I say all that to say that we must be careful with our dogma. We must, while we may have strong opinions, be willing to understand that others don’t agree with us and they have valid reasons for that. It is not so simple, cut and dry as we may like to think it is.
So, whether you believe the government should take up the Biblical call in caring for widows and orphans, or you believe the government is a corrupt human institution that can do no good, you must be willing to act in love and understanding, not assuming others are idiots for disagreeing with you (yeah, I’m talking to you Dan!). Of course we must act in love no matter if the issue is complicated or simple, but complex issues, especially those with emotional fire in them, need to be dealt with especially gently.