Theology of Politics

It might be a good time to remind America that God is in control. It is at times like these that we need to have a sound theology of politics.

I know the idea of a doctrinal statement about politics, governments, elections and so on, will rub some people the wrong way. That is largely based upon a false doctrine in this country called separation of church and state.  But let me save that conversation for another day.

Today let me present a few things a Christian should believe about politics. First, we should believe that being a good citizen is a part of our Christian responsibilities.  There are a lot of verses that tell us as much, some very directly. For starters consider Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, and Titus 3:1-11.

But beyond citizenship we need to know that there is a cause and effect relationship between how well we perform the duties of citizenship and the state of our nation. If we lift God up, honor and revere Him, use our resources to spread His kingdom, and build into our country positive moral values, then we can expect God to bless us.  But when we are not behaving as Christians ought, then we can only expect to see judgment. Consider Joshua 23:1-13, Psalm 33:12, and 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Finally we also need to recognize a Biblical pattern. This pattern may not be as clearly stated as some of the other things we have discussed, but I am certain that it is true. God chooses and directs leaders as one of the major ways that he guides history forward. Part of that is rewarding those who have earned blessing with good leaders, and another part is condemning those who have earned judgment with bad leaders. This pattern is demonstrated in the exodus event by the idea that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It was not simply a matter of Pharaoh’s free will at work, but also how God was using Pharaoh’s decisions to create the history He wanted to bring about.

Another example is Proverbs 21:1 (NASB).

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; 
He turns it wherever He wishes. 

This verse tells us that God is guiding the decisions of the king. It does not imply that the king is aware of this process, or that the king is immune from responsibility for the decisions.  The verse doesn’t really say anything about how it is worked out at all, and reading it only for this purpose is missing the point.  The key point of the verse is that God is moving history forward by working with leaders.

That said then we have to believe God knows what His plans are for us by the outcomes of our elections.  Whether this past election will mark the beginning of judgment, the end of judgement, or some other great purpose of God, only time will tell. Whatever God is up to, our first priority must be to trust Him no matter what it is that He has planned.


A House Divided

Recently there was a debate in which MSNBC made mistakes such as accusing Dr. Ben Carson of business connections that did not exist and suggested other candidates should withdraw or resign. The candidates did what we hope politicians can do, point out the errors and confront them with truth.

A few days later President Obama, branded them as weak. Unable to handle MSNBC moderators.

Not long after that Democratic candidates backed out of a debate which was going to be partially sponsored by Fox News. While the initial reports I saw seemed to indicate this action was over comments made by Fox chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. I notice that many of the news outlets I researched did not connect it to Ailes comments, and the Democrats failed to define exactly what was said that crossed the line. But either way it was noted that Fox news might be biased against Democrats.

What I think is most important to point out is that many of those involved in the process, both politicians and news outlets, are furthering the gap in America.

The obvious result of dividing America will be that we no longer stand united. This point should be of more concern to Americans than demonizing our opponents. Jesus said it, Abraham Lincoln quoted it, and it’s still true, “A house divided cannot stand.”

The Politics of Victimization

Perhaps nothing is worse than being a victim. We fear it. We have compassion for those who are victimized. But in the interactions of human relationships some people have learned to gain favor by playing the part of the victim.

Politicians are sometimes elected based on pointing out the ways they feel victimized. The homosexual community has made great gains, not by discussing the issues, but by making people feel sorry for them. In the current attempts at immigration reform, we are being constantly baraged with images of children in order to motivate compassion—both pictures of unaccompanied minors crossing the border and the children of illegals that have grown up here.

Living in a society which is so prone to favoring the underdog, has motivated a large number of people to become underdogs. Never has there been so many applications for disability. Never has there been such large changes to the minimum wage as the proposals bantered around today.

Good policy and real truth ire discovered in facts, not in intentionally created emotional manipulation.

O’Donnell and the Koch Brothers

Lawrence O’Donnell this past week made a rather widely publicized statement about the Koch Brothers.

Apparently he is accustomed to disparaging these two men because they use their resources to promote conservative political agendas. But this time he was taking note that David Koch had donated a large amount of money to a hospital which proved beneficial to the liberal MSNBC host. Then he went on to talk about how he could hold these two conflicting ideas at the same time. He believes the Koch brothers do harm with their money politically, but he also believes the Koch brothers do beneficial things with their money by funding hospitals.

If he believes they are doing something immoral by contributing to conservative causes, does he also believe people who give large amounts to liberal causes should be publically chastised or branded? There certainly are large, liberal contributors who intentionally use their money to try and shape public policy. Mr. O’Donnell uses his position to promote liberal causes. He apparently believes a person who uses his influence to promote liberal causes is practicing their rights and freedom of speech, but a person who does the same to promote conservative causes is doing something unfair.

I think he missed an opportunity to learn something. He is not allowed to tell others how they spend their money, but if he could, his own quality of life would have been negatively impacted.

Potty Retraining

One of the more awkward trends in America right now is towards, non-discriminatory bathrooms. A number of places are setting laws, under pressure from the LGBTQPXYZ community, to allow a person to use either the men’s room or the women’s room at any time and at any place. The goal of this law is to protect individuals who feel they are a different gender in mind than they are in body.

This is another example of the amazing amount of power our society has given to this specialized community. If this relatively small group wants a law or a community standard changed they will probably get it. In this case, they will get it even if it is beyond all common sense and contrary to the safety of the average citizen. Did anyone who worked to create and pass these laws consider the ways in which they could be misused?

Anyone who wishes to do harm will simply have to claim they felt like the other gender at that moment. This claimed feeling will give them permission to hang around in a restroom which in reality is not for people they associate themselves with, but people they intend to victimize.

I think the point of greatest concern should be schools. This law allows a curious boy to claim identity issues in order to get access to the girl’s locker room. For most boys they will go through a stage in their development when they would do anything for that opportunity. Is this really what lawmakers think is wisdom?

I noticed as my kids were going through middle and high school that gym classes had gotten very lax about the shower requirement. In today’s world children are so fearful that it has become impossible to enforce. Simply stated they believed some of the other kids were certain to be homosexuals, who would be looking at them in predatory ways. Now I wonder if they will begin to fear to even use the restroom at school, for similar reasons.

The Sands of Benghazi

Recently we have learned a little bit more about the inane story that the Benghazi riots were spontaneous, based upon a movie produced in California. An email has been finally disclosed which instructed Susan Rice to point to the movie instead of failings in the administration.

For many people this is direct evidence of what they wanted democrats and the United States as a whole to finally admit and accept. There was an intentional spin put on the story in the first few days to avoid having it impact the elections. This spin was in the form of the preposterous lie, that the protests occurring on the anniversary of 9/11 were not planned, premeditated terrorist attacks.

For me the Benghazi debacle is disturbing for this reason, but it is much more disturbing that the false story then caused a number of other riots at different embassies around the Muslim world. This is a fact which seems to be forgotten. It is also very disturbing that we allowed the embassy to be so vulnerable. But what really gets my blood boiling is that the chief official in charge of these matters would testify emotionally, “What difference does it make?” without all of America standing up to remind her, it was on her watch.

Despite how aggravated these items make me feel, I have serious doubts whether another investigation into the events should take place. I am sure this conclusion surprises some of you. But my reasoning is simple. Since most of the citizens have stuck their head in the sand and pretended this was not a failure of the administration and ignored the blatant attempt to cover up the failure, why do we expect them to behave any differently now?

The Cowardly New World

There is a lot of concern over whether or not Russia is about to seize additional territories from among the former Russian territories. My expectation is, of course they will. When I answer this so directly I am not claiming to know the future, I am simply observing the pattern of the past.

When a country ramps up its patriotic and nationalistic rhetoric internally, they are on a path to act on those emotions. Putin gave a speech recently about the restoration of the former glory of the Soviet Union in which members of the audience were brought to tears over perceived wrongs done do them when those nations seceded.

Nations led primarily under the leadership of one ideologue, will take greater risks when attempting to secure or expand national interests. Putin is the national hero in Russia. He has carefully crafted his image as a strong leader, a man’s man, and the people look for his leadership either by direct mandate or more subtle orchestration.

Hostile forces, if not opposed with equal or superior strength, tend to keep going until they meet such a resistance. The US response to what has happened in Crimea has been to state there will be severe circumstances, but everyone is quick to say, “No boots on the ground.” This is really all Putin needs to hear. In addition, we really haven’t tried the economic sanctions which would be most painful to them, energy related sanctions, because they would also affect us.

Many of the former Russian states have large numbers of Russian sympathizers. Once these groups are riled up by the rhetoric of Russian nationalism, they likely will act in their regions to seek reunification. When efforts are met with resistance, or especially violence, Putin will go in to protect the Russians in that region. Then hold a referendum, started and controlled by the sympathizers, which of course will result in favor of reunification. This is exactly how it happened in Crimea. Putin didn’t have to start the problem, he only had to be ready to take full advantage of the problem.

The United States has made it clear military options are off the table. No one else will have the gumption to stand up without the US. Whatever financial or other resource consequences we put on them, they will see as less significant than returning the USSR to its former glory. They also have reason to believe we will treat these other consequences in a similar way, namely we will lose heart to continue once it begins to affect the American public.

Without the courage to stop Russia early on, we will have to contend later with whatever it is we allow them to become.

Right of Refusal

The right of refusal is the legal ability to refuse to do something which has been requested of you. When a child is told by their parents to go to bed at their appointed bed time, they have no right of refusal. When a military man is commanded by a ranking officer to do his duty, he also has no right of refusal.

When a businessman is asked by a customer to do something he finds offensive, does he have a right of refusal? The most common assumption might be that, yes, he can refuse to do something he finds offensive. But this is not very clear in America today. 

Every person on the planet has a sense of right and wrong. I am not saying everyone’s opinions agree, but every person has an opinion. If a customer asks a shop owner to do something that violates their own personal moral code, whatever that may be, do they have the right of refusal?  Should they have the right of refusal?

Phrasing the question this way I assume most of you are saying, yes, they should. But understand this. When a person is refused there is someone on the other side of the counter who may have some question as to whether they are being treated fairly. Perhaps the shop owner is harboring some prejudice against the type of person that customer is. Maybe that customer is being discriminated against. It feels like the word maybe is killing us.

Let’s pick a few examples:

  1. A man goes to a kosher Jewish deli, and asks them to put bacon on his sandwich.
  2. A woman goes to a gay printer, and demands he prints fliers stating homosexuality is sin.
  3. A baker is asked to bake a wedding cake which is all angel food, he thinks the idea is tacky.
  4. An Islamic man is asked to make a custom ring which has a Star of David on it.
  5. A Christian photographer is asked to shoot a gay wedding, even though he believes it defies the sanctity of marriage.

Do any of these business owners have the right of refusal?  Should they have the right?

Number three is different than the others because it is about personal taste, but the other four are about religious freedom. The question of the day is, when religious freedom encounters the right to be served, which gets the higher priority?

If you answer the same for all four, then congratulations you are consistent. If you said all of them have the right to refusal you chose religious freedom as the higher value. If you said none of them have the right of refusal, then you avoiding all possibility discrimination is more important than religious freedom.

But if you answered 1, 2, 4 and 5 inconsistently, then perhaps you are caught in the trap of discrimination. Namely that some groups deserve rights and privileges others do not have. What you chose reveals either, who you favor, who you disfavor or a combination of both.

Cooperating with a Hostile World

This past week a man reported to have a history of mental illness and criminal activity was allowed to stand a few feet away from the President of the United States for an extended period of time. He was not searched nor were agents close enough to intervene if he had taken actions against the president. It seems apparent the sign language interpreter was not vetted by the president’s security team in any way.

This happened because the security was handled in the cooperative model this president likes to build into his foreign policies. He doesn’t want us to be arrogant and assume we are the only ones able to vet a sign language interpreter. He doesn’t want us to be conceited so as to double check the arrangements made by the host country. He prefers for our country to appear humble and cooperative.

I don’t happen to like this president much, but honestly I would have been furious if this lack of attention had resulted in his being attacked, injured or even killed. I may not be fond of his politics but I am tired of sending the world a signal that American cannot defend its own.

I hope something is learned from the episode. Not everyone, around the world, is who they claim they are. Not everyone is capable of doing what they say they are capable of doing. Not everyone who claims to be our friend has our best interests at heart. Sometimes the only way we can be sure something is being done appropriately is to take charge of it ourselves. Cooperation is a great trait at the appropriate time and place. But there is also a time when nothing substitutes for direct supervision.

Shielding the president would fit in this category. Protecting the national healthcare website would fit in this category. Guarding embassies and collecting intelligence also fits in this category. We have paid a terrible price in these issues and in other matters in the past few years simply by valuing the opinion of the world too highly.

The Free Press

We live in a changed economy.

Not necessarily a good economy, but most certainly a different economy.

In our new economy companies have to behave differently in order to make a profit. For fast food places this might mean making everyone, including management, part time. For manufacturing facilities it might mean moving jobs to a country with less regulation and cheaper workforce. For media outlets it might mean eliminated investigative reporting, greater reliance on the wire for news, and a reluctance to risk telling unpopular stories.

We will miss the jobs. We will the made in America label. But what I expect will be even more disastrous is the lack of information and accountability the free press use to provide.

Instead we get whatever story is contrived at the top levels of the media carried down to all other media outlets. It doesn’t pay for the local outlets to determine if it’s true or false. They just need to be able to print something and stay in business. In the process they become enslaved to the popular story, without any time or money to check the facts.

It’s a function of the failing economy keeping the fifth estate from acting as a free press.

But the absence of a free press gives unrestrained control to policy makers who are destroying our economy, freedoms, and ultimately our country.