Cal Thomas today declared the end of the Religious Right.
To which I will say, “Yes and no.” I have struggled with this my entire adult life. Having been a Conservative longer than I have been a practicing, Bible-believing Christian, this is a perplexing question to me. And I will be honest. I have been frustrated for over a decade with how easily the Evangelical Church has been fooled into believing political power equals hearts and minds won for the Kingdom of God. Lots of people who I respect in the evangelical church have gotten far too interested in the use of political power over the subversive nature of the Gospel of Christ. Having legitimately become politically aware citizens in the latter half of the last century, we have made ourselves into a mega-special interests group in this one. One that can be ignored by an entire party. One that seeks to rule over our culture. But the Gospel is most effective as a counter-culture medium, and always has been. One need do no more than read the Book of Acts to see the evidence for this.This is so because the Gospel, by nature, radically transforms those who embrace it. One can no longer be the same. The Kingdom of God is a subversive thing in this world. And our hope is in the age to come. The age to come manifests in part for us, but never in whole in this life. Ultimately, we don’t win, God does. So with all this true, you would think that I would embrace what Thomas says.
Not so fast, my friends. We live in this world for this life. And we are responsible for all our actions in this life. If we believe, then part of our obligation as believers is to be dutiful citizens (Romans 15). Indeed, the best of citizens. We are responsible, as Christians, to do our best to create the best environment for living we can, that is part of being good citizens in a democracy. So we must be informed. We must vote our conscience. And our conscience should be guided always by Biblical values…Kingdom values that we hold and share first before other issues.
The problem is not that Christians are involved in the political process. We ought to be, as we should be involved in every part of life and culture. Always subverting it with Kingdom values. The problem is we have gotten so full of ourselves and our political importance that we act as if we’re the Republican equivalent of the unions on the left. “Ignore us and we’ll browbeat you out of the party.” I make no bones about being a social conservative. Nor do I say that I will ever sacrifice a core social conservative issue; ever, period. What I do say is that there are a number of moral issues that Christians can and should act upon. And Biblically, not all of them are 100% traditionally conservative views. So why are we wrapped up as one special interest group?
Generally, our interests lie best with the Right. That is because the Right’s traditional values are mostly informed by Christian society. The left isn’t going to accept what we believe. On gay marriage, they call our position hate speech. On abortion, we are “draconian.” Now, do I believe we ought to be more capable of expressing our views in a loving way? Yes. But look at Sarah Palin, she expresses her views on life more eloquently than a dozen sermons on Genesis 1 through her life. And she is savaged by the media for it. Does anyone really think the Democrats have room for those who have what are politically called “social conservative” issues? I don’t see it.
What I do see is the need to have our voice monopolized less by leaders in Colorado Springs and Washington, and more synthesized into a harmonious whole through the lives of thousands of people who will be savaged by the likes of Kathleen Parker and George Will (I used to respect you, sir–where did the George Will who identified with Americana through Bruce Springsteen go?). The first can be ignored as just “any” special interest group. The second will subvert all it comes in contact with and change all who know it for the better, no matter what the wisdom of this age may say. But that does not mean we should go back to the post-Scopes Trial era of political inactivity. Nor does it mean our activity will be uniform through the political spectrum in the future.
We live in Two Kingdoms. Our Hope is ultimately in the Kingdom of Heaven. But our duty is still to make our way through this life making a world that most reflects what would make our God pleased in His children.