10 August 2007

The Great Internal Struggle-Resolving Conflict between One's Faith & Politics

I'll let you all in on a secret.......I'm involved in the political arena. And here's a bigger surprise-I'm a Republican (although some would take issue with that). Because my faith is something I don't just profess, but honestly try to live, I find there is a great internal struggle between the two worlds. Mostly because politics is void of morality. It seems right, unto itself.

Beyond the more major and polarizing issues involving faith & politics is the single, overwhelming and most difficult issue of personal integrity of those who would seek political office. I would guess that most Christians who initially seek office believe in their hearts that they will not compromise principles and will do what in their hearts they believe is the right thing.

Then they are elected, and due to enormous pressure placed on them, they buckle and begin to think self-preservation is more important than voting for what may be the right thing. Because, they think, what good can I do if I'm not around? Enter the art of compromise. Politics is a game of compromise, faith is not.

Within three months of being in a small town, elected office, a vote trade was presented to me by a fellow Republican. If I backed off of one issue, then I would get support for another. One issue was a loosely moral issue-at least I considered it such. The other issue wasn't so much moral-but clearly needed to be determined on what was right (little r) for the community. I stayed the course on both issues and they both worked out appropriately. That was the last time a vote trade was presented to me.

If you demand from yourself what you believe is God's call on your life, to live by His Word and to model Christ, you will find yourself in conflict with the political process. I have no doubt. One quickly finds themselves drawn into a method of deals & denials in order to further their cause. It is justified because that's the way politics work. Believe me, there is no requirement to act politically-maybe if fewer did so, the needs of the public would be met.

The truth of the matter is that to be wholly committed to living out Christ, one cannot fully accept the precepts of either political party. While it would SEEM that Republicans may have the upper hand on certain social, moral issues such as abortion & gay rights; it is difficult to find a sympathetic ear in the party for social justice issues facing the poor or for the appropriate God-appointed stewardship of His creation. These latter issues find a home in the Democratic camp.

Part of my difficulty is having to call myself a Republican knowing who else does. I believe that God, through His Word, calls us to protect and assist the poor. I believe we are also called to be stewards of our environment, which may run contrary to broadly accepted economic development ideas. Most Republicans (especially in Indiana, unfortunately) would refute, ignore or find a convenient way to dismiss these God issued decrees. And should you, as an elected official, act out of the conviction of your heart on these two issues specifically, be prepared to be side-lined and denounced as not a good Republican, whatever that is.

And then, of course, there is the pressure to look the other way when it is your own party breaking the rules, because of course, everyone does. And further, to assume that all of one party is moral, therefore a safe vote to cast, is entirely wrong. I know of more moral indiscretions within the "right" party locally than the left.

I know this very well may have upset some of you, but here's my charge: know who you are voting for, as much as possible. You will be surprised.

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