Christianity’s Las Vegas: Part Three

We’re continuing the discussion prompted by Bryan Roberts’ article “Seven Things Christians Need to Remember about Politics.” Before we forge ahead, allow me to backtrack just a tad. Roberts’ fourth thing is “Thinking your party’s platform is unflawed is a mistake,” fits perfectly with yesterday’s first thing, “Both political parties go to church.” The policies of America’s political groups are formed by imperfect politicians fueled by worldly ambition. Not one political party or platform perfectly captures what a disciple of Jesus would stand for. Or vote for. If a Christian is going to vote, that Christian is certainly only choosing between the lesser of two worldly evils. Forcing Christians to choose between parties and then judging them on that choice isn’t fair and it isn’t right. By the same token, believing your party of choice has all the godly answers is short-sighted at best and outright sinful at worst.

Roberts’ second thing Christians need to remember about politics is “Political talk radio and cable ‘news’ only want ratings.” When these stations and hosts tell you they are on a moral crusade, they are lying. Straight up. These networks and personalities get rich by selling ads. And they sell ads by having more viewers and listeners. And they mostly use fear and hatred as a way to get those viewers and listeners.

You know it’s true, from the local newscast in your town to the national cable networks. “There’s something in your kitchen that could be killing your family! (long pause…) We’ll have the story at 10:00!!!” “Which national candidate’s policies contain direct quotes from Hitler’s manifesto? (long pause…) Stay tuned for the shocking story!!!” Come on. Most of these networks and nearly all the hosts are experts at fear and hatred. Their work is to divide the whole country into two warring factions that are each terrified of the other and then to continually stir up the hatred between them to make sure they stay divided. It’s so blatant and so over the top, I don’t blame anybody anymore for getting their news from John Stewart. CNN is a joke. Fox News is a 24-hour Saturday Night Live skit.

It is toxic talk that is poisoning our brains and killing our hearts. I know confessing Christians who watch Fox News five or six hours a day and then listen to conservative talk radio in their cars. That can’t be good for them! I promise these Christian brothers and sisters are not spending that much time every day with their Father in prayer or with the Holy Spirit in Scripture. So they’re filling their minds with fear and hate instead of faith and love. Labeling people and whole groups of people as evil instead of seeing them as children of God created in the divine image of our Father. Insults and threats instead of edification and comfort. Name-calling and angry slurs and violence instead of encouragement and good will.

We shouldn’t be surprised when we hear Christians use angry language to speak about “the other” political party or forward insulting emails around the church that castigate an entire race or socio-economic group or religious belief. It’s all some of them ever listen to! Isn’t it as clear to you as it is to me that most of this makes us less godly, not more? Certainly I’m not the only one who realizes this pulls us away from Christ, not toward him. We’ve been given by God in Christ the ministry of reconciliation; we’ve been commissioned by the Holy Spirit of God to reconcile. Political talk and political news feeds the opposite ministry and instincts.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” ~Ephesians 4:29

Roberts’ related third thing to remember is “Those who argue over politics don’t love their country more than others.” And that’s the point of all this, I suppose. All this arguing and name-calling and fear-mongering is a sin. Strife and quarreling are not gifts of the Holy Spirit; those things come from a whole other spirit altogether.

The talk show hosts and national networks are increasingly biased, inaccurate, and illogical. For their own benefit and gain. And directly against your continuing Christian transformation. If you’re giving more of your time and energy to them than you are to Jesus and the Word of God, you’re serving the wrong master.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Whitney starts her new job today. As of 4:30 this afternoon, she’s a bona fide, working, productive, tax-paying member of society. She’s sacking groceries at the United Supermarket at 45th and Bell. Congratulations, Whit!

Eggs and bread on top.

Peace,

Allan

9 Comments

  1. Rob's Dad

    I once heard an Elder address a congregation about budget shortfalls. He asked those who were doing well to increase their giving to make up for those who were having a tougher time. Nobody had an issue with it. Kinda funny that many of those same people get irate when a Democratic raises almost the exact point around removing tax breaks for the wealthy.

    As for news sources,don’t forget E-news and Ticket Tickers.

  2. Sara R.

    Please tell Whit I hope her new job goes great! We’ll have to go in to see her soon!

  3. jason reeves

    Excellent! Congrats Whit!

  4. Jocelyn

    I have been thinking alot about this post. A lot of what you have said here in this post and the more recent one is true and good. Here is my humble opinion:

    We have to remember that we are Christians first. However, it is not wrong to be interested in politics, it is not wrong to watch PBS or MSNBC or CNN or FOXnews, it is not wrong to love your country. What is wrong is to make those things your identity.

    One of the biggest struggles as a Christian is to not get caught up in the “world”. I know people like you speak of who spend all their time and intellect in fear mongering and hate about politics (on BOTH sides and watching BOTH types of TV or listening to BOTH sides on the radio). However I also know so many people who are spending all their time and intellect on other unimportant things such as sports (ie watching ESPN all day, listening to sports radio for hours and watching or attending every game possible).

    However, I do think that being educated about what is going on in our country and being able to have thoughtful and kind conversations with the people we interact with every day is important. If you cut your self off completely from the world of politics you cannot do that. We cannot put on blinders and ignore the issues facing our country (and much of the world). We have to be in the world, but remember to follow Christ, not society.

    Like I said we have to do our best to make our identity Christian above all else and to spend our time in a way to perpetuate that. What do people think of when someone mentions your name? Christian? Or is it Democrat, Republican, Sports Fan, Hunter, Career Woman…etc etc.

    Thanks for always making me think. Congrats to Whitney, she’s such a wonderful young woman and I wish her the best in her new job. I’ve always been a big United fan 🙂

  5. Allan

    Oh, Jocelyn! I love the way you think. I always have. You and Philip are such wonderful blessings to your small group and to the Legacy church family as a whole. The way you think and act, always led by the Spirit of Christ, is informative and inspirational. You always seem to center me right back to where I need to be.

    Allow me to push back, though, or maybe just clarify my position based on this comment.

    I think spending personal time and energy on, becoming worried and anxious about, and campaigning and pushing for political parties and partisan candidates is a much more damaging thing to a disciple of Christ and a Christian witness than spending that same time and energy in worrying about and rooting for a local football team or sports league. Neither are good. I completely agree with you that both can be damaging. But the political thing poses a much greater threat to the Church and its mission.

    We can spend two or three hours a day watching ESPN, reading the sports pages, and arguing about college football with our neighbors and co-workers. We can spend another 30-hours every weekend watching football games on TV or attending the games in person. We can shoe polish our cars, decorate our walls, hang flags outside our homes, and even paint our faces with our team colors. (By “we,” I mean somebody else.) And, yes, too much of that is clearly unhealthy. But nobody ever thinks for a second that the Oklahoma Sooners or the Dallas Cowboys are going to fix the world’s problems. Nobody believes that the Chicago Cubs or the Red Raiders are going to solve what’s wrong with society. I’ve never met anybody who thinks the whole world would be better off we just adopted and practiced the policies of Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban or Nolan Ryan (OK, maybe Nolan Ryan.)

    With politics, we have a strong tendency to think the world will be a better place — my personal life and finances and security, my country’s economy and safety, the world’s peace and joy — if my party prevails or my candidate beats your candidate. We believe worldly politics will save us and protect us from harm. We believe our particular party is the solution to what ails the planet.

    For a Christian, that’s not only dangerous, it’s sinful. It stunts our Christian transformation and it cuts the legs right out from under our Christian witness.

    When we adopt temporary, worldly methods that are rooted in a fallen world and destined to be conquered and replaced to attempt to fix eternal issues that our Lord says can only be solved by love and mercy, sacrifice and forgiveness, we do great harm to our Savior’s mission. And to ourselves.

  6. Jocelyn

    Allan, I agree with you that putting your hope, trust and faith in anything or anyone other than Christ is wrong. I agree that no one but God can save our world. Yes, being hateful in your political views is unchristian. No there is not one correct political party or politician (people are imperfect). That is why Philip and I don’t label ourselves and are slow to back any candidate.

    However, the government does make decisions that effect us and all people here and abroad. If we are silent, ignorant and uninvolved about politics what are we saying? In your previous post you brought up things you support (such as pro-life). I think Christians can help save many unborn children and we can do it in loving ways and that might require politics at times.

    I know what you are saying is meant with the best intentions. And a lot of it is true. We do have to be careful and intentional in our words and actions in all arenas and especially politics. But, sometimes I feel like when you are speaking about politics you are saying that being interested or involved is sinful. I just don’t agree with that.

    I realize that this is not a good forum to personally discuss such a complex issue. I hope I have been respectful and kind. I sometimes have a hard time keeping my mouth (or hands) shut.

    Oh, and I have had ‘Christian’ sports fans tell me they hated that I was a Red Raider fan (the school that helped me become a nurse thank you very much)…that’s not so good for the church is it 🙂

  7. Allan

    Jocelyn, I forgot you were a Texas Tech fan. I can’t talk to you anymore.

    Let’s talk about pro-life. Signing petitions and protesting abortion clinics, writing our congressmen and campaigning for politicians, voting for party platforms and pushing for new laws will never stop abortion. The ideal, as I see it, would be for the people of God’s Church to vow to adopt every child in danger of being aborted. The women’s clinics and shelters, hospitals and doctors’ offices, will all know the churches will take care of these kids. Abortion could be legal in every city in every state; there could be legal abortion clinics next door to schools; you could get an abortion at Wal-Mart. But all those abortion clinics would be out of business because nobody would be using them. The churches would be adopting all the babies. There’s something kinda like that going on in Colorado Springs. And it’s beautiful.

    There’s something like that going on with CareNet in Amarillo. No government funding; no protests or petitions. Just a bunch of churches and church people from all denominations who vow to join these young mothers, to walk alongside them, to mentor them. Special Delivery — again, no government funding, no political campaigns and voting drives — works with them to adopt the babies into Christian homes. The local numbers here are staggering. It’s beautiful.

    Martha’s Home, a local shelter for abused women, was begun in Amarillo 30-years ago by a group of ladies from five or six different denominations who were concerned about the growing numbers of battered and homeless women. So they got their churches to go in together and start the home. They got the program going and it’s just beautiful to see what God is doing with these ladies.

    To me, that’s the Christian way; that’s the Jesus Way. It’s not easy. No, it’s actually quite difficult. It requires sacrifice and time, money and energy. But this is the kind of action that will foster authentic change in a society and eternal impact in altered lives.

  8. dbyrnes

    “Tax paying member of society.” Good luck when her first check arrives. I anticipate some feisty discussion that falls very close to this series.

  9. Jocelyn

    ok….I’m going to comment one last time.

    I agree that protests, picket lines etc are not the way to go, are damaging to the church’s image and I do not participate in those activites.

    I have heard of many of the organizations/groups you mentioned and agree that they do great work. There is one in Dallas (Save the Storks) that has a sonogram truck that drives around giving out free sonograms and does wonderful work as well (and is a private non government funded project). I think we should fund and support these types of groups/projects more.

    I’m not sure if you know this or remember this, but I am a labor and delivery nurse. Unfortunately I see the effects of abortion in my work. It saddens me how many women are afraid of/unwilling to give birth to a child as well as how many are afraid of/unwilling to be pregnant. Adoption of all babies into Christian homes would be a wonderful thing, but many women choose abortion because they don’t want to go through pregnancy, not just because they don’t want a child.

    In my opinion, education is a crucial missing part of this problem. Women need to be educated more about this issue and the real physical facts and options (starting in middle school if you ask me). In our country, government greatly influences and runs education. Therefore, I believe that we cannot solve or improve the problem of abortion without working with government.

    I look forward to reading the book that I am shocked to have won. It may take a while because Levi and Joel don’t give me very much reading time. Once I do I will let you know what I think, since you say you want to know:)

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