Sunday, November 2, 2008

Politics of Love

Every Sunday, my church prays for a particular country of the world. I think this is a great idea because I believe in the power of prayer, and I like that our church has chosen to pay attention to the world beyond our own borders.

After weeks of praying for countries in Africa and the Middle East, this week's prayer was for the United States of America, and in particular for the upcoming election. It was a delicate prayer asking that God would provide the people of America the wisdom to weigh the issues at hand and also to seek God first. However, the prayer also asked that Americans would pay special attention to issues regarding the "sanctity of human life", the "institution of traditional marriage", and "the cause of religious liberty". This concerned me, but let me explain why.

As a Christian, I know where the Bible stands on issues of marriage and abortion, and I understand that these are relevant issues. God is the author of both marriage and life, and we ought not to damage either.


13For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.


31"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

But however relevant these issues are, they are not the key issues. Too often, Christians confuse their Christian values with their cultural values. They believe that because conservative politicians are the only ones who land on their side of issues like marriage and abortion, that these politicians represent them (and are the only ones who can represent them). This is false.

Christian values are not conservative values. Jesus tells us that above all, we must love one another. Conservative values are capitalistic, keep-what-you-earn, every-man-for-himself values. Christian values are gentle, giving values of social fairness.

While the Christian concept of marriage cannot and should not change, we must understand that there there exists marriage as a religious institution and also marriage as a social, legal, and secular institution. It does not promote the Good News to antagonize our neighbours over the use of a word.


23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

Furthermore, governments deal with issues on a national or even global scale. Certainly issues of abortion are relevant, and Christians ought not to participate in having one. But even more important are issues of war, disease,and poverty - being diplomatic and generous in our policy. Indeed, I do believe it is more important to elect a government who will work tirelessly to save the lives of those already grown than one who will outlaw abortion but damn innumerable others to conflict and strife or that will leave the poor and starving to suffer their own fate (as conservatives are often keen to do).

It is of my personal opinion that often conservative politicians do not represent the political policy that Christians should endorse. Like the Pharisees, they make mountains over issues of tradition and rules while ignoring the principles of love and responsibility on which those traditions were first established.


23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!


5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

Do not make politics a single-issue race or assume that conservative means that a candidate will represent Christian values best. Instead, test each politician and their policies with the character of God - justice, mercy, and faith.

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