Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Soapbox

     I know that I said I was going to be going with a theme here, and I am, but please allow this brief insertion  of a non related subject. Theme posts will be updated on Wednesdays and Saturdays (or was it Sundays?).

   So, today is the 6th of November, A.K.A. voting day - possibly the most infuriating and irritating day of the year. All of the political obnoxiousness on both sides of the spectrum has been building for this day. Facebook is a nightmare. I hate election years, and I hate politics. "But Mariah, as Christians it's up to us to try and reform society through politics in order to bolster the church and reform America! I still have faith in America!" Garbage like that makes me want to claw my eyes out. Do you know how horrible it is to have to hear stuff like that for MONTHS leading up to the election.

     Now, I know that the election is important for the country, but what really irritates me is the Christian perspective on politics. For Christians it is possibly the most unimportant event of the entire year, and let me tell you why. It is 100% impossible for Christians to reform the country through politics. In fact, the goal of Christians should not be to reform America. We are not bounded by political lines and geography. We are not even called to reform the world! We're called to interact with people and to save human lives, not countries. Let me try and structure this a bit more intelligently.

     I think that much of the problem with the American Christian's interest in politics comes from a very arrogant place. We, as Americans, tend to conceive of our Country as the "City on a Hilltop" the Light to the Free world, the most important country in the world and as the Last Hope for all mankind. We are a very patriotic people, and perhaps rightly so (although I would contend that), but I think that our nationalistic conception of ourselves betrays an underlying and very dangerous arrogance. "Well, is it wrong to have national pride. We're a great country, we've done great and amazing things!" In answer to that I'd say no, it's not a bad thing to have national pride - as long as your boasting is directed in the correct direction. As Christians we should believe that any successes or triumphs that our nation has had are blessings from God. The danger comes from believing that we have been a great nation to being proud of ourselves from having been born there, and many Americans cross that line (many Christian Americans too). Nationalistic pride is a foolish thing to have ultimately. You could no more have chosen where you were born than what eye color you have. And, in the end, America won't matter one little bit. The only country that really matters (according to Christian belief) is Israel. So, I certainly hope that America is not the world's last chance for a good society, since we will cease to matter very much before the end (much like Assyria or Rome [who matter in terms of cultural contributions, but are not real players in the political game anymore]).

   I also find the notion of "Having Faith in America" to be wildly disturbing. Any person who has faith in their country is misplacing that faith indeed. Especially in a liberal democracy, to say you have faith in your country amounts to saying that you have faith in your fellow citizens. I don't know about other people, but I personally have very little faith in my fellow man. Human beings are notorious for making terrible political decisions. In fact, almost always we make horrible decisions - why? Because we're a fallen people. The American government is made up of people who have the potential to be as tyrannical as the worst third-world leader. We have a system that keeps people like that in check - but so did the Romans. (let it be noted that I am NOT saying that some politician will rise up and dominate the American government. I'm merely making the point that terrible people live in America too). Should we then have any kind of faith in our country? Absolutely not. We should have faith in our God, who is not the American God, or the Republican God, but is the God of the whole world. Kingdoms come and go, but our God remains.

     And as for the idea that it is up to Christians to be actively involved in politics in order to reform our country - while commendable - is, I believe, ultimately false. There are some things we should fight for, but there also needs to be a realization that laws and legislation have never made man moral. They can control his behavior to some extent, but they can't control his mind and beliefs. Politics are divisive, you can appeal to one set of people using political methods, but you completely alienate another side. Instead of politics people need to be focusing on the culture and positively changing the world around them through their interactions with people and through positive contributions to the culture. What we've done is we've created a purely Christian sub-culture that is incapable of interacting on a meaningful level with the rest of the country. What we need is not more Christians books or music or movies, but books that are written by Christians. What I mean is we need more Tolkiens - people who are Christians and who create art that's not explicitly Christian but that their faith bleeds through.

     Now, I'm not saying that people shouldn't be interested or aware of what's going on around them politically. I'm just saying that the American Christian needs to be careful how much of his hope is tied to the political state of his country. Republican or Democrat, no matter who wins, God is still on his throne. Christianity was never made to pick sides in a political debate. To do so limits the power of the Gospel. We are meant to be at war the world, not to make peace with it through political avenues. Christians need to be engaged in life (that does include politics) we just always need to remember that the hope for our future does not rest in the victory of any political candidate or party. So do go out and vote toady, participate in the system of government that you were born into, but remember that no matter what happens our future is secure (in an eternal sense... life could very well suck here).     

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