Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christ and the Ballot Box

Red vs Blue.  Because that's literally all there is.  Or not.
Well, its the day after election day, the day where 50% of the country are lividly bemoaning the death of the the free world as we know it, and the other 50% are exuberantly celebrating the bright future of the nation.  Today is a special day.  Very seldom can we accurately predict that half the country are giddy and the other half forlorn.  All joking aside, these days after the Presidential election provides an excellent opportunity for reflection.  Here we are left in the great aftermath of the quadrennial clashing of the Conservative and the Progressive.  We see, in stark detail the expose of two very old and prominent philosophic systems, the preservation of the traditional and the genesis of the new.

I hope these things go down in history
as America's greatest contribution to
I'll be honest, both are good.  Our culture has rich history and this country has been forged from generations of beautiful and diverse traditions.  It also has been a great engine of novelty, revolutionizing the global community in ways ranging from Jazz music to atomic bombs to Pillow Pets.  I'm not here to discuss whether we ought to be Republican or Democrat or just throw in the towel and vote Ron Paul next time, but I do think we had ought to ask one vital question:  Where lies the Christian in this balance?  When the society is split in great political cacophony, where is the Christian?

It's a trick question! To suggest that Christianity is invested in either one side or the other is to fundamentally misunderstand Christianity in the first place.  You see, politics is a very human creation.  At its broadest sense, politics is the attempt of imperfect beings to mitigate their imperfections.  In our political interactions, we are imperfect beings who interact with each other in order to dampen the effects of our own mutual imperfections.  These effects can be relatively simple things like hunger, lack of shelter, or territorial issues, or they can be complex, such as authoritative and ideological conflict.  Politics exist where there is lack in the world; as long as human beings have needs and wants, we will be a political species.  Christianity, being religion, differs from politics in that it is not imperfect beings interacting with imperfect beings for the purpose of mitigating imperfection, but imperfect beings interacting with Perfection Itself, with God, for the purpose of actually becoming perfect.

Politics, love them or hate them, are inevitable, given that we remain imperfect and interactive.  Unless we somehow attain perfection (yeah right) or become totally isolated from each other (this might actually be doable...), we're going to be political.  However, politics cannot achieve perfection.  Inevitable as they may be, politics are still imperfect by nature, leaving man in need of more, of religion.  Because politics can only give us strategies and systems to cope with our shared imperfections rather than attain perfection, humans are in need of religion.  When we are faced with our own imperfections, we will of course find pragmatic (political) ways of alleviating it, but we will ultimately seek, and subsequently worship, an image of perfection (preferably God, although not always).  Politics cannot solve our personal imperfection, only those imperfections that arise with  We are inherently religious.
"That's not philosophy you pansy,
suck it up and keep reading!"

Did you survive that philosophy?  Take a deep breath.  Process it all.  Heck, go grab yourself an espresso, you deserve it.  Now, where were we... That's right, Christianity's place in politics.  Moving on...

Christians must resist the urge to imprison their faith to politics.  Christianity is no political system, because at its heart, it is not man relating to man, but men relating to Son of Man.  If you seek to be a disciple of Christ, if you want to build the Kingdom of God here on Earth, you must move beyond politics.  Jesus Christ was no politician.  He had no civil office, he ran for no election, his most significant interaction with the political system resulted in his crucifixion.  Why?  Because Christianity's enemy is not political.  Because we cannot solve the problems inherent to our nature.  You and I and everyone else are imperfect beings, we are lacking, all because of Sin.  Sin is not a political problem, its a crisis of the soul.  We will never resolve Sin in the voting booth, nor can we ever expect the government to complete what we Christians have the duty to do.  Christians are tasked, not to build good government, but to build good souls.  The crux of Christianity is not in how patriotic we are, but in the extent that we have striven for holiness.

Be careful where you tread, O Christian.  "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes" (Ps. 118:9)  Our hope is not in the Elephant or the Donkey, but in the Lamb of God.  The success of Christianity doesn't rest in political hands, but in pierced hands.  Whether your guy won or lost today is irrelevant to your duty as a Christian.  You are called to be Christ to the world.  Period.  There is nothing else.  Your vote should reflect this, your actions should reflect this, your life should reflect this.

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