As we approach the upcoming election, I’d honestly like to bury my head in the sand. I agree with Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren that this campaign season has been marked by “irresponsible personal attacks, mean-spirited slander, and flat-out dishonest attack ads.” Quite frankly, politics is an ugly business – and I’d rather avoid the rancor.
I’d also like to avoid becoming the target of gross misrepresentation. Today, those of us who believe in the sanctity of life and biblical marriage are often equated with extremists who bomb abortion clinics and hate gays. These false caricatures hurt us personally, but even worse, they alienate people from the church. This has prompted even some Christians to urge us politically-active brothers and sisters to stand down. As popular blogger Rachel Held Evans implores, “Is a political ‘victory’ really worth losing millions more young people to cynicism regarding the Church?”
Of course, the knee-jerk answer is no, but it’s not that simple. Scripture commands believers to stand for justice and to protect the weak; to be salt and light; and never to tire of doing good. I’m not under any illusion that political action will save the world. Still, government is God’s means of restraining evil. And, as believers in a democratic society, can we really stand by idly while 1.2 million babies are aborted in our country every year – when marriage is dismantled, and peoples’ religious freedoms trampled?
Jesus called us to be obedient – not popular. Rarely are those who oppose societal evil popular. Abolitionists weren’t popular. Dietrich Bonhoffer was executed. Even Martin Luther King, though today regarded as a hero, was largely reviled in his lifetime. These men understood what theologian Carl Henry once expressed – that “passivity in the face of evil is acquiescence to it and, in some cases, even partnership with it.”
So, though I’d like to ignore politics, I can’t. If that makes me a social pariah, then so be it. And, if it repels some from Christ, then that’s heart-breaking, but it’s not cause for an about-face. After all, Christianity has never been socially acceptable – and God help us if it ever becomes so.