Politics Has No Place in the Pulpit
[This is a piece I just submitted to The Logan Daily News, the local paper in the community I serve as pastor. It’s part of a continuing series to which local clergy are invited to contribute. It is overtly Christian, not, I hope, as a means of pushing my faith down people’s throats, but to (a) let non-Christians see that many–I believe most–Christians do not believe that the Church should be a political institution and (b) assure other Christians, forced day after day to watch as some Christian voices hijack public perceptions of our faith, that they aren’t alone.]
Several weeks before the war in Iraq began, I heard from two different pastors who had differing views of the impending conflict. One argued that followers of Jesus couldn’t possibly support the war. The other claimed that it was the moral duty of followers of Jesus to do just that.
Both of these pastors were sincere followers of Christ. But their conflicting opinions show the difficulties that arise when members of the clergy decide they know how Jesus wants us (or our members of Congress) to vote.
“Christianity,” C.S. Lewis once wrote, “has not, and does not profess to have, a detailed political [program] for [application at every] particular moment.”
Christians, I believe, should be interested in politics. And I hope that committed Christians run for political office. But no pastor or congregation can claim to know God’s partisan or political preferences, if in fact, God has any. Instead, preachers and churches should focus on other things.
Jesus once said, “…when I am lifted up from the earth, [I] will draw all people to Myself” (John 12:32). Jesus wasn’t only talking about His being lifted up on a cross here. He was also saying that when followers of Jesus lift Him up for the whole world to see, in our words and in our lives, others will follow Him. That, in turn, will affect how they live their lives as citizens and politicians. If God wants to guide them in their voting, God will do so without the meddling of preachers or Christian organizations.
Preachers and churches are to keep sharing Jesus Christ. We’re to trust that as we lift Jesus up, at least some in the world will come to see Jesus in our lives and believe in Him.
Except in the face of horrific evil, like slavery, racism, or prejudice, social issues that must be addressed politically as well as in other ways, politics has no place in the pulpit.