I get asked this a lot: “Shouldn’t we be engaged in politics to fight for our rights and defend our values in society?” I also get asked: “What does it mean to be ‘too political”?
How can we be political, but not TOO political?
These two questions seem to be in conflict. In other words, how can we be political but not too political? I hope to address these issues and questions here.
Too Political Defined
First, let’s define “too political”. From the book “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…and Why it Matters“, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, too political is defined as:
“too involved in politics“, and “motivated primarily by political goals and as promoting a right-wing agenda“.
Christians Are Both Republicans AND Democrats
Politics could be culturally defined as what the “Republicans” (or conservatives) do verses what the “Democrats” (or liberals) do. A difficulty lies in the fact that Christians are neither Republican, conservative, Democrat, or liberal. We’re all of the above. So one thing to be sensitive too is not labeling Christians as either one or the other.
“Promoting a right-wing agenda” suggests incorrectly that Christians are all conservative republicans (aka Right Wingers). So, I think part of the negative stereotype revolves around a misunderstanding of a cohesive party affiliation. Would we be less political if we could accept that our brothers and sisters in Christ are on both sides of the debate?
Where Are We Too Political?
Here are some areas where Christians tend to get heavily involved in politics: Abortion/Right to life, death penalty, legalization of drugs, and gay marriage. All of those issues are fire storms waiting to happen. And they all have religious or faith implications.
Other issues that tend to be labeled as the domain of the Democrats or liberals are: Labor unions/protecting workers, minimum wage (fair minimum wage for everyone), environmental issues (safe guarding our plants, animals and habitats, being good stewards of our planet), human rights, etc. These are also issues that are rooted in our faith. They may be labeled as liberal positions, but they are Christian positions as well.
Why Are We Perceived as Too Political?
Christians are involved in both sets of issues. So the question lies in why we are perceived as TOO political. Is it unfair to label us as too political when other factions of our society are just as TOO political on those same issues? I think it is unfair. But there it is nonetheless.
I believe the solution rests in how we express our beliefs politically, and how willing we are to listen and attempt to understand the other side.
What’s the Solution?
What can we do and what should we do to reverse this negative stereotype? Should we retreat from politics? No!
I believe the solution rests in how we express our beliefs politically, and how willing we are to listen and attempt to understand the other side, and how willing we are to work together.
How well do we treat others in the political debate with respect and decency? Can we disagree on the issues and still love the persons involved in the discussions? When does it become more important to love the other person than it is to win the debate?
We’re just scratching the surface on this issue, and you can see there are many questions and answers to uncover. We’ll dive deeper into this topic over the coming months…