Politics and Christianity

Recently, a friend of mine argued strongly against Christians getting involved in politics.

He said Christians should not try to impose their views on others in what is a non-Christian society.

He noted that the vocal Christian right in the United States has prompted a backlash among Americans.

His view is that Christians should focus their attention on the poor and the downtrodden and steer clear of politics.

I agree that Jesus avoided politics and spent his time helping people spiritually, physically and emotionally.

But I don’t think this means we Christians should stay away from politics.  Christians can do a lot of good in politics as in any other career.

I believe the guidelines for Christian participation in politics are the same as for any other walk of life – loving others, righteousness, integrity.  God should be at the centre of every believer’s work life.

When I look at the scriptures, I see that God worked through all kinds of people – carpenters, prophets, fishermen, kings.

It is true that politicians are much more in the public eye than most of the rest of us.  A vengeful act or a broken marriage can be used against Christian politicians.

But Christians would not be more popular because they dropped out of politics. Despite the wonders of grace, Jesus warned early believers that they would face opposition.

I was a reporter on Parliament Hill for 12 years and observed a number of Christian MPs in various political parties.  Most were exemplary human beings although they held different political views.

One person stands out in my memory – Jake Epp, a cabinet minister under Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney.

Everyone knew Jake Epp’s Christian faith.  He was clear on where he stood on spiritual things, but he was also compassionate and kind.  He did not force his views on anyone, but he was not afraid to share them.

I remember him sharing with a number of people on one occasion that we, as believers, should be helping and compassionate with people suffering from AIDs, even though some may have a sexual lifestyle that is contrary to Christian tenets.

The friend I mentioned earlier agreed with me that there is a place for Christians in political action – although he is against party politics.  For example, Christians can resist efforts to undermine family life.

In my view, our society changed radically in the 1960s and afterwards because Christians were largely absent from the debate about key social issues.

Again, the approach we take to politics is important.  We must present our views winsomely – not with a hammer and angry words.

Jesus and the prophets spoke out against injustices in their societies.  We can do the same in ours.

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