I’m currently reading Has Christianity Failed You? by Ravi Zacharias. A brief portion of it (p. 32) deals with the issue of political solutions to moral problems, and his message is as appropriate today as it ever was. Ravi observes that political solutions to moral problems always involve fear of punishment. Jesus, alternatively, offers freedom.
His point is well taken. A political solution to any spiritual problem may produce external compliance but will also likely produce internal ambivalence at best. It’s been my experience that most Christians endorse forced compliance with moral values, either through political laws or religious rules.
Governance is, ideally, a social contract in which we all agree on the best solution to a group problem. For instance, we all agree that we will drive on the right side of the road in order to maximize safety and expedite the flow of traffic. I don’t know anybody who has a problem with that solution. Many issues are much more complex and difficult, such as how many refugees/immigrants the country should accept and from which countries. A great deal of time has been spent arguing about the temporary restriction on inbound travel from seven Middle Eastern and African countries, and nothing productive is really coming of it.
Unfortunately, the discussion taking place today on this issue (and most other issues that affect the country) are almost pure rhetoric and no reason. The discussion, if you can even call it that, is polarized and is characterized by a political power struggle. There is no rational dialogue in attempt to find a common-sense solution. What we have is an almost universal alignment in one of two camps: Republican and Democrat. The two camps are locked in a life-and-death power struggle. If the Republicans are for something, then the Democrats absolutely must oppose it in an attempt to undercut popular support for the Republican position. And the Republicans do the same thing. It doesn’t matter that one side will support an issue today that the other side supported a few years ago. This is combat, and no ground shall be yielded, and no quarter shall be given to the enemy.
As I’ve said before, I’m not calling for compromise. That’s been tried and has induced more problems than it’s solved. What I’d really love to see is for our Congress to come up with rational, balanced solutions to national-level problems. This, however, is not going to happen, if historic trends can be extrapolated into the future. No big deal. Horses and water, I say. So rather than joining the ranks of the squabbling politicians, I propose that as followers of Jesus, we largely ignore the political stuff and begin taking small steps to alleviate suffering to whatever extent we are able.
What many Christians are forgetting is that Donald Trump can’t prevent us from assisting refugees if that is what we truly want to do. They also don’t seem to consider that opening the floodgates to refugees or creating sanctuary campuses/cities/states is not necessarily going to help them either. That simply transfers the refugees’ plight from one geographic location to another.
If you want to help refugees, then help them. If you want to protect America, then start strengthening your community. But bickering amongst ourselves is not a solution.
Many Christians are absolutely wedded to politics. I understand, because I used to be in that camp. I don’t hold the view that Christians shouldn’t vote or participate at all in governance, but I can say confidently that the Republican Party is not going to save America. The Progressives are not going to save the world. Politics isn’t going to save us or refugees or immigrants or anyone else.
We’ve been given the task (dare I call it a privilege?) of shining light into a dark world. Political bickering, finger-pointing, and name calling are only going to distract us from that task. If Jesus is the answer, then let’s follow His lead, and reach out to those in need in whatever way we can. The President, the Senate, and the House can all get on board or not.
God is not bound by politics. There’s no reason we should be.