I remember a run with some friends, back in the winter. I don’t recall exactly how we got on the topic of politics. However, I do remember some wise words about politics spoken by my friends. As a matter of fact, I remember these words verbatim because I wrote them down, for personal reference. And in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, as well as the subsequent emotional outcry from the public, I remember with vivid detail these musings about resetting the relationship between Christianity and Politics.
I think our running conversation started with the phrase, “You need to break up with your political party,” as a potentially provocative title for a men’s retreat workshop. It was designed to be a reminder of what politics can and cannot accomplish, even under the best of circumstances.
But then, my friend Grace said something that seems more relevant than ever this week. “People have become distrustful of people: both individual humans and human institutions. But they have also become more self-reliant, trusting their own judgment above all else. The irony in that, of course, is that they are forgetting the fact that they are also humans.”
We can’t trust ourselves more than we can trust anyone else. That’s discouraging, of course. But also potentially helpful in pointing us back to God.
After listening to Grace share her thoughts, on that same run, my friend Mark chimed in. “I’m becoming more convinced that the relationship between Christianity and Politics needs to be re-examined. It’s not necessarily a sin issue. But there may be a need for extra discretion in the public sphere. Maybe kind of like Christianity and the Alcohol Industry. It’s not a sin to be a bartender. But it can be problematic, serving drinks to people who have drinking problems. It’s not a sin to do shots. But it may not be a wise witness to others.”
Christianity has often been at its best when it’s been an undercurrent, a resistance movement, a counter-cultural minority working from the margins of society. We don’t do well with power. In fact, the pursuit of power may even be a form of idolatry for many Christians. So, the more I’ve thought about things this week, the more I’ve fallen back to the need for the rest in the relationship between Christianity and Politics. I don’t know exactly what that looks like or feels like. But I’m thinking and praying about this a lot these days. And I’d love to encourage other Christians to join me in this.