Anyone who knows me knows that I'm all for conversation. I'm not one to taboo any kind of conversation, AT ALL. But the recent USA Today Article headline, PASTORS PLAN TO BAIT IRS WITH PULPIT POLITICS, grabbed my attention.
Evidently, next Sunday is political pulpit Sunday, and a group of 100 pastors are taking the opportunity to stand in the pulpit to endorse certain candidates. It's not a surprise that most of the candidates are either Republican or Tea Party Candidates mostly in support of Anti-Abortion campaigns and strong opponents of Gay Marriage. No matter what your opinion on these issues are, as a member of the professional faith community, I'm surprised we're still not learning anything about how to address issues like this. We still think there will be a political leader come to power to lead us out of the immoral oppression we're under. Sound familiar?
First, you have to understand, Abortion isn't going to be solved in the political arena. I wrote an article on this back in 2008 hoping that faith leaders could wake up and start this conversation in a new place. The facts are clear. After talking with several high power attorneys, and spending time with the most conservative judges, we have to face THE FACTS. 30 years of Roe v. Wade isn't going to be overturned in our current judicial system, and to be honest, it's not an issue for government anyway. Why do we listen to the drumbeat of fear when a politician stands up against abortion, only to get elected and TOTALLY FORGET ABOUT IT. (i.e. all politicians since the 1970's. exhibit A – we've had some of the most conservative politicians in the highest offices of the land, and abortion is still happening at a rapid rate.)
The heart of abortion in our culture must be highlighted head on, not in the courtroom, but with each individual woman facing the dark fear of unwanted pregnancies. Teen pregnancies need to be addressed, and un-wed mothers need to be cared for through the church's resources. I'm quite confident, if the scarlet letter syndrome would go away, many of our abortion candidates would re-think their position. Unfortunately the statistics show most abortions happen in the middle to upper middle class families with the means to erase poor decision making. What would happen if the church spent the time and money currently used to endorse candidates, and opened crisis pregnancy centers in their community, trained counselors with the heart of God, and helped people see REAL options?
Why are we continuing to beat the same old drum, thinking politicians will EVER do anything to change this? Another government rule isn't going to stop people from having sex, so how can we address this issue in another way that could REALLY help reduce the number of abortions in America? The answer is most certainly not in Politics.
Secondly, no matter your opinion on gay marriage, the issue is really how our culture is going to define marriage. Will we defined marriage between two men or two women, or continue the sacred time honored tradition of marriage given us ordained by God?
Once again, to think we can rule morality from the bench on this issue is to ignore the reality of a world in the hearts and minds of people. Regulating morality isn't going to change the issue. (Just try to force behavior modification on any teenager, and watch them run as far away from you as possible.) We must be well aware, morality isn't something the government can control, the only hope of change is in the hearts and minds of the people.
If we really want to be agents of change, we in the faith community have to get out and make the case with people, not with politicians. I realize the impacts of a culture accepting gay marriage as a viable institution. I know the arguments against it, and to be honest; I'm a proud proponent of defining marriage as one man and one woman. BUT…if members of the faith community think the answer is going to happen in local or federal governments, think again. It's not going to stop because someone passes legislation. The issue is at the heart of man. (Mark 7:21) Maybe we can get out and begin sharing God's love for all people, and trust the spirit to do what the spirit does through the word. (2 Timothy 3:16)
So the only natural reasons pastors would ever engage in these issues would be to help congregations understand the issues, not the politics. Why are we so intoxicated with the idea of thinking the church should endorse political candidates? We serve the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords; we don't need to fear governments here on the earth. We need to spend time galvanizing the moral position God has in the heart of man.
The duty of a citizen of America is quite a different matter. To guide people in the right spirit of an issue is to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to rule the hearts and minds of people. Are we so afraid that God can't change the heart of America that we have to risk the positions of our churches as sanctuaries for all people?
The only foreseeable outcome of this "pulpit politics" is alienation.
Think about it.
If you agree with the positions and the endorsements of a certain pastor, you'll feel comfortable sitting in the pew. But what if you don't? I have friends who have left churches because a pastor started to endorse certain political campaigns. Believe me…
I have wonderful Republican friends.
I have brilliant Democrat friends.
I have Tea Party friends, and Independent friends.
Are these pastors really willing to create division because of politics??
If anything, the division should come from the conviction of sin and the lack of a moral compass in the hearts of the people, no matter what political party they stand for. It shouldn't come from a pulpit like speech on whether or not they vote a certain way.
It seems some in the faith community are drunk with the idea of legislating the government but when the government tries to legislate the faith community, we are up in arms about issues like prayer in school, ten commandments posted in public offices, and whether or not Christmas can be labeled X-mas. How can we want it both ways?
In all honesty, it was the founders who came to the country for the sole grounds of religious freedom and liberty. That means we see the world from a different perspective, not through the lens of any governing on Capital Hill.
When will we learn? Jesus didn't come to re-arrange the political structure of the day. He didn't come to elect a new Cesar. His mission was a divine grassroots re-organization of mankind. He didn't use power brokers. He used fisherman, tax-collectors, cobblers, and farmers. He came to speak directly to the hearts of people. No matter what religion, what political party, or whatever social class, Jesus was about bringing to light the discrepancies and sins of men and their impact on their relationship with God and each other. He came for a bigger purpose than who was going to be the local governors. He came to reconcile ALL things unto Himself, one heart at a time.
If it's y
our God given gift to lead a nation, then we pray for wisdom that you might lead with the heart of God. And in our current democratic system, it's your job to prove to the American public that you can do that well. Please don't rely on the pulpit as your campaign rally.
If it's your God given gift to continue the revolution Jesus began 2000 years ago, then WE NEED TO THINK BIGGER than merely trying to influence elections. We, in the faith community, have been given the mantle by the words of the Bible to help officials see the truth. We've been given the voice to bring to light the issues of faith, not to munch frivolously on political snacks of the day.
I can certainly admire the courage of the 100 pastors to try to influence, I just hope we can do something of real value to end the atrocities that plague the heart of man, and not give into the temptation of the power game.
I told you, Nothing Taboo here!!