Friday, October 03, 2008

God. Life. Progressive Culture.

  So my buddy Jeremy sent me an email that got me thinking about politics and faith. The question I have is why do Christians always vote Republican or conservative? Why can't we be in the middle or politically left for that matter? (if you have read my previous post you would know that I am proudly in the middle.) There are many issues out there that many people hold strong to...abortion, poverty, family values, environment and so on. They are all important and encompass both sides of the political aisle. 
   Well for my readers who don't know this, there is a newer younger generation of people who profess a faith in Christ that are moving more towards the center of the political spectrum.  They are choosing not to affiliate themselves with either political party. They have decided (myself included) that both Democrats and Republicans are not getting the job done. 
There is a place where the voice of the moderate believer in Christ is being heard and shared. In my opinion that is "Relevant" magazine.   "Relevant" is one of the voices of this new generation of young believers. If you are in any way interested in topics I am talking about or have written about, I strongly suggest you pick-up a copy of "Relevant" at your local book store or check out their website in my links section.
 God. Life. Progressive Culture. These four words are on the cover of every magazine and on the top of their web page. These words encompass what they are about. Which is everything. Life, faith in God, social issues, moral issues, music, movies and other media are covered by "Relevant". As you can tell, yes I do enjoy "Relevant" mag and their website and agree with the majority of what they write. 
     In the latest issue of Relevant and on their website, the founder and publisher Cameron Strang wrote some amazing words that I can't begin to do justice. So here they are.

First Word: Leading the Charge

Cameron Strang |

Reprinted from the Sept./Oct. issue of RELEVANT

"Let’s get this out of the way up front: I’m not a politically motivated person. Which is why I felt a tad out of place meeting with Barack Obama this summer. And talking to John McCain. And doing countless interviews about the faith and shifting political views of our generation.

Yet I have unwittingly found myself thrust into the political arena, a place where people are vehemently passionate about their ideologies and platforms. It’s an entire industry built around being right and proving your opponent wrong, and winning at any cost. It’s a continual power struggle and—from my humble vantage point—seems a bit flawed.

I’m someone who tries to think independently and objectively, rather than simply follow what the pundits tell me to think. Because of that, I’ve realized I cannot fully embrace either political party. Both sides of the aisle have some great ideas and goals. But both also have areas where they simply get it wrong.

I know the power of politics and the importance of the process in our world. But I also know that, historically, real, lasting change has started first at the grassroots level long before it was ever legislated. Cultural mindshifts influence Washington, not the other way around.
Many Christians traditionally have voted Republican because of their justifiable conviction to protect the lives of the unborn. Now, many younger Christians are voting Democrat because of their justifiable desire to see our nation, the most prosperous in the world, address issues of poverty, global aid and the environment.

The problem is, many Christians vote these convictions, but that’s largely where their personal involvement in the issues stops. Are the government leaders we vote for meant to do our job for us?

If God has given you a heart for the poor, or to see a reduction in the number of abortions, or to promote peace, or to help the sick, or to stand for strong moral values, or to be a better steward of the environment, then your personal focus needs to be on that—whether or not the President shares your same values.

The Bible reminds us to pray for our leaders, but it also talks about praying for those who persecute us. Though I can’t foresee any situation where this would be the case, what if one day every value Christians stand for, even religious freedom itself, was legislatively removed? Christians in China and many other parts of the world face this reality every day. Would it change us?

Dare I say, it might actually spur the Body of Christ here into greater action. Could it be that the loss of religious freedoms would ultimately be the best thing for American Christians because it would cause us to stand on our own feet rather than relying on the government to legislate our faith and values for us?

I’ve heard that only 5 percent of people who attend church regularly actually serve in any way. I’ve read that if every Christian in America actually tithed 10 percent of their income, we would have enough financial resources to wipe out global poverty.

There’s more power lying dormant in pews around the nation than any government could hope to provide, and that’s where our focus should be.

Many Christians want to overturn Roe v. Wade, but I don’t hear nearly as many leading the charge on a national adoption movement. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, where are all of those babies going to end up? Christians should be focused on personal action regardless of legislation, not just waiting for the right number of Supreme Court justices to come along.

I’m not saying don’t vote. Do. Vote your convictions and let your voice be heard—that’s one of the perks of living in a democracy. But don’t let politics breed division, or make you see people in a different light.

If you have a passion for an issue, rather than judging someone who doesn’t share that passion or viewpoint, just go do something about it. Give your life to it. Be the change you want to see.

We need to pray for our leaders and our country, but always remember that our leaders and country do not define us. We are the generation that will shape the direction culture, government and social action will take in the next 50 years. It’s not up to Washington, it’s up to us—and I say it’s time we step up and lead the charge.

But that means with our lives, our finances and our actions every day. Not just Nov. 4."



     I know this post rambles and bounces from one thought to the next, but that is how my brain works. I agree with Cameron Strang whole heartedly. I want people to know is that politics and the government are not going to fix all of the world's and society's problems. That job is up to us. WE need to be the ones to make a difference. WE need to make the changes. Obama's or McCain's "change" is not the answer or cure all to life's issues. WE need to step up to the bar and love on our neighbors. Don't just talk about the issues. Act on the issues. Act for the issues. Pray, volunteer, stand up, serve, love, and take action for these issues. That is what this generation needs to do. We have shown that we have the heart, but now let your heart be worn on your sleeve for what you believe in.  
     For me, I wear my heart on my sleeve for Jesus Christ. I love Jesus and I want others to love him as I do. How do I do that? I simply love others and serve others. I hope they see a Jesus that is loving and accepting and not Jesus that is judging and distant. I hope they see the transformation he has had on my life. I hope that causes them to think about faith in Jesus. It is their choice and I completely understand that. I have been there. 
      I want to be transparent here.  I say it is simple to love and serve others but it reality it can be challenging. It is easy to write these words on a blog but it is even harder to get out of my chair and act upon these words and make a difference in love. It is sometimes hard to leave your comfort zone. It is hard to love some one with whom you dislike or do not agree with but you must rise above and love with out conditions. Love unconditionally. Loving God with all your heart, soul and mind is the most important sentence spoken by Christ. Second only to that is loving you neighbor as you would love yourself. We must love and serve others no matter who they are or what they believe. UNCONDITIONAL love is what we all must strive for.


  1. Anonymous5:09 PM

    Tim, I have thought about these issues a lot. Often Christians get criticized for being one-issue voters, mainly abortion. This is looked at as too simplistic and unintelligent and naive. It's considered dumb there are many issues that are important, not just one. Also, the progress on over Roe-v-Wade is not encouraging. I understand this line of reasoning. It is very logical. I agree Christians don't have to line up with Republican ideas and that those two groups have become too closely identified. The Democrats may have the more Christian stance on some things, and a lot of issues are morally gray. My problem is this. I think we need to remember what abortion is, calling a spade a spade if you will. Abortion is about pro-choice, it's about killing an innocent life. It's about messing with God's knitting in the mother's womb (Psalm). It's absolutely evil. Saying otherwise is not speaking the truth. God is the creator of life and abortion is taking life away from a living person. My point is this: I understand disagreeing with the Republican on many issues and refusing to vote that way, but voting for somebody that thinks it is O.K. to take the life of an innocent baby is not something I can do. It's not that there's only one issue. It's not that I expect a ton of progress on overturning Roe-v-Wade. It's that I problem with the character and moral judgement of someone who thinks this evil act is acceptable. Our culture and more and more our Christian culture has come to trivialize this as just a political issue and just one of many equal issues at that. I say that's a bunch of bull. If there was a candidate who thought it was acceptable for a man to beat his wife and children, no one would vote for him. I think it's the same thing with killing a baby. It's morally wrong.

    For those who intend to respond to this post, please don't miss the point and start ripping into Republican on other issues. I am saying vote Republican or endorsing them. I saying killing babies is evil and I'm not going to vote for someone who think it's O.K..

  2. Hey Mr or Ms Anonymous--I completely agree with you on the issue of abortion. I am against it. In my opinion life begins at conception and abortion is killing an innocent life. What I was trying to say in my blog is that I am not happy with the current two political party system. I feel stuck in the middle. But yes I do tend to vote right. Abortion is a big reason for that. But their are so many other issues that surround abortion that need to be addressed. Tony Campolo stated that "70% of the abortions in this country are presently driven by economic forces." Meaning what can we do as believers in Christ so solve this issue? We need to face it at its roots. How can we help someone who is making minimum wage w/o healthcare decide to keep their unborn baby?

  3. Good post Tim - what the duty of a Christian may or may not be when it comes to politics and culture in general is always a tense balancing act when honestly considered.

    When it's not honestly considered as a conscious act of worship, as all life should be worship (God how I constantly fail at that) it ends up being exactly what Cameron Strang - and you see as the greater failing of the "political" system.

    I guess I'd add two comments here on that. First of all "progressive culture" is a VERY loaded political phrase, one that shuts down dialog, not opens it up. Liberals (having realized that "liberal" is political naughty word) began to refer to their policies and preferences as progressive - so when one reads that in the title of the magazine you can reasonably conclude that they are FOR things that are politically liberal (lets say universal health care, punishing wall street fat cats, no more war and the normalization of gay marriage) and therefore have adopted a liberally biased view of Christianity.

    As opposed to Orthodoxy.

    Secondly - and I am not, in a blog post response, able to develop these thoughts as I would like, they are more caracatures of what I'd like to say - Strang is absolutely right that there is not enough effort on the part of Christians to advance the kingdom of God here on Earth through culture. There aren't enough adoption options, we don't counter the morally bankrupt MTV culture, we don't feed the hungry, house the homeless or act as neighbors nearly as often as we should... And to the extent he points that out, he is to be commended.

    Lastly, when the two observations are combined - liberal politics and a frustration with (ineffective) social action in Jesus's name, then I think you run the extreme danger of wanting the state to step into that void, and we, as a nation become responsible for feeding, clothing, etc.... and it is not longer I who am my brother's keeper, the one who is called to love my neighbor as myself, but the state is my brother's keeper (though government programs I pay taxes toward) and I don't have to love my neighbor, the government takes care of him...

    I was going to add my thoughts on abortion as THE political consideration for Christian involvement in politics, but I think Anonymous has some pretty good thoughts there. I will add that I think, that we are called to create, as Christians, a culture of life first, and everything else flows from that... After all, if we believe that we are endowed by our Creator with rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then you gotta believe that liberty and pursuing happiness are pretty damn difficult if you're not alive. We're also biblically instructed to "choose life, that you might live..." and I think it's pretty evident that promoting a culture of life is preeminently important.

    To the extent that only one political party actually does that, I think it becomes the default party of sincere Christians. There's legitimate frustration with that lack of choice, and a desire to be more politically sophisticated than "one issue voters," objection to feeling that you are being co-opted, and used and fear that you might be marginalized by that party - which is the whole point of the post in the first place.

    I think this reflects a frustration felt by many Christians who DO consider themselves as more than just pro life party hacks... I'll bet that Strang would agree to that, I know I do, as do many of my friends.

    Ok, I think that's long enough...