Friday, October 13, 2006

Religion & Politics

I am finally going to rant a little about this.

For the last three years I've been a member of a predominantly military church. Almost 75% of the membership were armed service employees, and I had very good friends who were either military wives or women soldiers. I had never been part of a church with this membership base, so it was a new experience for me. Since I grew up here in Fairbanks I knew soldiers, even dated one once. But I had never really spent so much time with a large group of Christian military.

My big complaint/problem/stumbling block for these last three years has been the amount of "God & Country" I heard repeated over and over and over... Like the U.S. is the only country God is present in or blesses. Politics were discussed in church like there was ONLY ONE way to vote or believe. And if I said something in opposition I was "blaspheming God".

Do not hear me saying Christians don't belong in politics. I want Christians in Washington, D.C. Heavens, I want Christians in Hollywood, in New York, in Nashville, in our schools, in universities, in local government, in every industry and art form. I want us to infiltrate our country like salt & seasoning mixed through an entire course of a fabulous meal. I want us making a difference- I want us shining our light in the darkest places- government, entertainment, education, journalism- everywhere that directly influences how we think & how we make decisions.

However, I don't want my pastor or sunday school teacher telling me how I should vote. I vote. And I do vote as a Christian- I am a Christian- Of course, I vote as a Christian. How else could I vote? My beliefs impact every choice I make. But I probably don't vote the same as every Christian I know. And I'm not sure that I should... I vote as God leads me. I vote as my intelligence and understanding guides my choices. I vote to the best of my ability. I research and read about the candidates and measures. I listen to the debates. I ask my husband and my Mom, and anybody else I respect what they think. But, I don't always agree with them. This is one of the precious ideals these military men and women are fighting for- the right to disagree.

I pray for my president and congress and senate, but I'm not sure I want my church telling me exactly how I should pray... If I'm truly praying "Thy will be done on earth here as it is in heaven", then I can trust God to know what's best for everyone, and to guide me. And while it is true God allows countries to be in power and that He places leaders, I know He allows things to happen that are evil. He works them out for the good of those who love Him and are called, but that doesn't mean leaders don't make mistakes. I do not know everything these leaders know. I can second guess them all I want, but I am not there making the decisions they are making...

I don't know... I guess all I was really tired of, was our church acting like politics SHOULD be a part of every worship service, and that our country was the only one in God's right. If you look at history, no country has been entirely correct. Even amazing Godly leaders make mistakes. One of the weird things about attending seminary is that I saw the men and women called by God and training to be pastors and church leaders as human. I saw the mistakes they made in their personal lives, in their relationships, in their homework... Even being called and blessed by God does not make you infallible. It just makes you guided by someone greater than yourself.

I want our politics guided by something greater than us. But I'm tired of hearing that our country doesn't make mistakes, that our leaders don't make mistakes, that the U.S. is infallible... That God has established our country as the one true and right way...

I'm scared of the Christian Right- of the political power this group of "Christians in politics" have to persuade people that God wants them to believe & vote a certain way. I hate the way this group goes off about homosexuals, unwed mothers, the plight of the family, the education system and Satan in Iraq... I have friends who are gay, friends who are unwed mothers, friends who are divorced... I was a teacher in the school system, I know a lot of teachers, and I'm not sure Satan's power isn't evident everywhere, including the U.S. ...

I'm afraid that once you hop up on your soap box and start screaming to the masses, the masses become faceless... Each individual person's story and situation starts blending into one big hodge-podge of 'evil' humanity that must be stopped... or converted... It's so easy to start protecting yourself from the reality of the pain that many people live in, and the reality of trying to make choices in that situation... God sees every situation, every face, every broken heart. When people start preaching politics in church, I think we lose sight of the way that God looks at us. Of how lost and broken each individual really is... How much each heart desperately needs Christ. It's too easy to slip into being angry at people who don't believe exactly the way you do, and start picking over piddly little issues, like how many angels can dance on the end of a pin.

Come on people! What does God care about? "Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." Look at Jesus. Did he get involved in the religious politics of his day? No, he condemned them, and tried to reach out to the women and men who were being destroyed by them- the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Zaccheus the tax collector.

I do think God calls people into politics because with a heart focused on being obedient to God you can make a difference there. But I'm not sure He calls the church as a body into politics...

Anyway, there's my rant for the week... Part of me wants to apologize for going off, but that really is what I believe. I really am tired of being told what I should believe about my president and my country. I've thought about this for three years, and avoided hurting dear friends. Stepping back out of the situation, I now believe that my opinion on this subject would have been respected. I think many of the Christians in my military church would have disagreed with me on this subject, but they wouldn't have flipped out or openly mocked me... They might not have discussed politics with me again, but I probably would have been okay with that. :)

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, and Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


An-Em-El House said...

That was excellent! Preach it, girl!!! I love you for this, and think this article needs to be framed as a great reminder of what true overcoming grace really is!!!:)

Sorry to intrude on your blog. I found it through Jake's reply on my die hard soldier of a husband's blog, who can use a lesson in this area on occassion.;)

Thank you for encouraging me. :)

becca said...

Thank you! You're not intruding.

sarahjanesina said...

Amen, sister. Have you read Philip Yancey's book- What's so Amazing about Grace? He talks about a lot of what you discuss in the last part/chapter of the book. I am thankful, coming from a culture of the scary "Christian Right" that balance and truth are beginning to sweep through the Body of Christ. Every thing starts as a mustard seed.