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Yes, I know this blog is about sexual matters, not politics.  But indulge me a bit.

In fact, if you are a Trump supporter, indulge me a lot!

My pigeonhole is labeled “Evangelical”.  Early on in the primaries, my fellow pigeons were greatly prized.  Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina—talking heads were all agog at the percentage of evangelicals flocking to Trump.  In fact, I was quite surprised as well.  I myself had no intention of leaning his way.  None.

Strange indeed for a crowd that usually cries, “Character matters!”  Now the common thought among all Trump followers is, “He won’t get pushed around!  He will get things done!”

Don’t fret.  I will return to sexual matters eventually . . .

So I did some thinking and reading.  There is a great booklet by Philip Yancey titled “Christians and Politics: Uneasy Partners”.  Written during the 2012 election, Yancey traces church history for the uneasy relationship between Church and State, beginning with the Roman Empire and ending with our current morass.

Especially helpful is his assessment of the 20th century.  Early on Christians used all political means available to foist upon the country their beliefs about alcohol.  The final triumph was a constitutional amendment.  Yeah, that didn’t end so well.  The backlash was nasty, in fact.  Christians avoided politics for about half a century and focused on being the Church.

But then came the Moral Majority in the 80’s.  I was a seminary student and remember it well.  Representatives from Thomas Road Baptist Church held a meeting in our dining hall and stated that if moral people across the nation would unite their votes and voices, we could eventually reverse Roe vs. Wade and prevent such things as same-sex marriage.

It was a heady tonic and was passed around like a flask of whiskey at a high school dance.  “Hey, hasn’t God called us to be salt and light?  We can uphold Christian values!”

But like the Prohibition Movement of a century ago, I believe that has borne bitter fruit.  Using political power to impose our values usually does.

Yancey states that before Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, studies revealed a large majority of those without faith had a favorable view of Christians.  At the end of the century, however, that number had dropped to 3%.  Yep.  And the number one perception of unchurched Millennials is that we hate homosexuals.

Yancey quotes Miroslav Volf:  “Imposition stands starkly at odds with the basic character of the Christian faith, which is at its heart about self-giving—God’s self-giving and human self-giving—and not about self-imposing.”

In other words, imposing our will and values upon our culture is at odds with the very mindset of the One who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself and took the form of a servant.  Instead of imposing his values, he came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.  (Phil. 2:6,7; Mark 10:45)

Evangelicals and others are shocked at our moral decay.  Perhaps they see Mr. Trump as their last ditch effort to impose values upon our culture.    It is probably no coincidence that the first (and I think only) Evangelical leader to publicly endorse him was Jerry Falwell Jr.

People care less and less what we believe about sexual ethics.  They view us as cranky curmudgeons sticking our noses into other people’s bedrooms.

We’ve done enough damage trying to use the powers that be to impose our values.  I believe it is time we model ourselves more closely after the One who came from heaven.  After all, that’s where our primary citizenship lies.

So there you have it.  Let the comments fly!  But instead of blindly endorsing one candidate or another, try to engage with this matter of using the political system to impose our values.

  • Heather Escontrias

    Thanks for bringing up this point. I will refrain from a diatribe about Trump. I have several I could engage in, but this is not the forum for that. I think your point holds true. I’ve been considering what our role is as Christians in this new world in which we are increasingly in the minority. Obviously, we don’t live our lives to please other people, but there is a sense in which we do need to engage people where they are. I feel we do that best by humble interaction with people who are different from us. It can be pretty hard to know how to remain faithful to what we believe, but as you have stressed in the past, it is a heart change we are looking for, not simply a change in behavior due to externally imposed limitations.

  • Katheryn

    Nice to see someone agrees with me about imposing values on others. The best way we can preach is generally without words, as St Francis said. But with the pool of candidates available, where do we place our vote? If Christians are a majority, we cannot afford to be a silent majority.

  • Paul Morelli

    I struggled with the concept “Government is force” as a Christian when I was considering running for state rep … I was challenged to consider how to change the world from a Christian perspective and as I researched, I was amazed that Jesus never appealed to the government to achieve his agenda. I believe the reason is that all government can do is force people to behave on the outside and when the force is removed, the people’s behavior will probably spring back. I believe Jesus realized that if you change a person’s heart, the behavior will follow and will not require outside pressure of the government. I thus decided to go into ministry as an evangelist instead of politics as I believe it has the most potential for changing this world, and I believe that ultimately our goal is to live in our future kingdom now, here on earth by it’s principles and by doing that we will change this earthly kingdom by our presence lived out in community. As the church is about the church’s business of making disciples, the disciples can invade culture and affect it. (as individuals (disciples), we have the right to engage politics and voice our opinion and vote) When the church is busy in politics, I am not sure it is making disciples like it should…in my humble opinion.

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