Many argue one’s faith should be separate from the public square; Christians, in particular, should not be involved in politics, inaccurately arguing it’s unconstitutional.
Yet, faith, family, and freedom are—the Axis Mundi of life—that which is the center of everything.
Everyone believes in something or someone, even if their faith is in themselves. What differentiates between an opinion and justified belief, however, depends in what or whom such faith rests.
Christians believe Jesus‘ claims about himself are true. Not only is the biblical account of God ordering time and creation true, but also God’s guidance for right living leads to something beyond living—to a relationship with him. God first created a relationship between himself and man, then between husband and wife with himself, and later with their children. Each relationship was rooted in freedom—even to reject him.
It is no different today. People are free to believe whatever they so choose and live accordingly. But freedom of thought and belief is mutually exclusive from order. God’s order of the universe exists regardless of one’s belief in or rejection of it.
America, more than any other country in modern history, is undeniably linked to Christianity. Despite misguided claims about deist or masonic influences, history reveals Mosaic Law and biblical principles were foundational to the creation of American jurisprudence.
That’s not to say that Christians have consistently gotten it right. I most likely would have been killed for disagreeing with the Massachusetts Bay Colony magistrates, or the slave owners who wrongly justified slavery with proof-texted Bible verses, or with those who preached hellfire and damnation excluding grace, forgiveness or compassion. Self-identifying Christians have not always embodied the freedom the Gospel offers, let alone read the Bible.
But many self-identifying Christians, despite their flaws, genuinely seek to encourage human flourishing. They understand their Christian heritage includes advancing higher learning (and what eventually became the Ivy League), actively founding, funding and training others in establishing schools, hospitals, orphanages, and missions for the homeless, addicted, and destitute.
Christian involvement and concern for all things is rooted in their knowledge and love for Jesus Christ, whose life—before his birth and after his death—is perhaps the most political of anyone’s who has ever lived.
Before Jesus was born, Herod, the king at the time, searched for his mother to kill him. Unsuccessful in his attempt, after Jesus was born, Herod ordered his soldiers to kill every boy 2 years old and younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding region.
As an adult, Jesus taught (education, preaching) and healed (medicine, health care). He exposed corrupt individuals and organizations (law, advocacy, public communication). He also repeatedly instructed his followers to provide for the poor, disabled, orphans, and widows (societal care, philanthropy) and create disciples (evangelism, mentorship).
Roman soldiers (under Roman governor Pilate’s and Roman Emperor Tiberius’ authority) killed Jesus and guarded his body in a tomb. Government and religious officials were primarily responsible for publicly denying that his empty tomb existed. They also sought to discredit personal testimony given by those who spoke to and touched a living Jesus. And they tried to suppress eyewitness accounts of Jesus‘ ascension beyond the clouds.
Even the name Jesus Christ is political. The Greek Christos translated from the Hebrew Messiah to the English means king. To be a king and not be political is incongruent.
Christians committed to following Jesus cannot separate social involvement from their faith because social involvement is both the DNA and expression of their faith. Jesus‘ ministry engaged all of life, exemplifying the varying aspects of Christian ingenuity to teach, heal, create, seek justice, preach, and speak publicly about moral issues. A Christian’s motivation is first and foremost to glorify God from which the natural and joyful response is to serve others.
This is why supporting the development of families in which fathers teach their children moral principles and right action is paramount. As one minister told me, “governance begins with governing yourself. If you can’t govern yourself, you can’t govern society.” Learning self-governance also involves freedom to explore new ideas and thoughts, to make mistakes, seek correction, and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor—all within a child’s first society—the family.
Everyone’s faith influences private thoughts and actions. Individual ideas and actions impact public policies and other people’s lives, which is why no society is immune from anyone’s faith. In fact, one’s faith influences every area of society, which faith, however, is usually at issue.
The U.S. Constitution separates the church from the government and vice versa, but it does not separate religion from public life. And for Christians, their faith encompasses all of life—because God not only created them but all of creation and the time and purpose for which they live.
To not use their gifts, to not serve others, to not be involved in every area of society, Christians would insult God, contradicting everything Jesus taught.
December 14, 2014