By Jon Kauffman
A friend attended a local political convention. Strongly pro-life, my friend wanted to help elect a pro-life candidate. The “Christian” and pro-life candidates used devious and dishonest means to win the convention vote, just as did the pro-abortion candidates. My friend was quite disappointed.
“Crooked as a Politician” (Forest Gump’s Doctor describing Forest’s back.)
Governments do what governments do. Politician’s goals are to ensure their own power, money and re-election and they are filled with compromise.
Politician’s make great sounding promises and often break them.
Trump said he would end the war in Afghanistan. The longest war fought by the United States continues and no one knows why we are there. The number of enemy participants has increased.
Obama and Bush made promises similar to Trumps promises and they broke their promises.
Tempted by Political Power
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Matthew 4:8-10 NIV
Have Christians succumbed to the temptation to the political power, a temptation that Jesus conquered? Are Christians bowing down to Satan and grasping for political power? Are we worshiping government instead of the Lord our God? Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness to seize political power. I am certain that Jesus could have ruled better than the Emperor Tiberius. If Jesus rejected political power why should we grasp for it?
When Roman political power put him on the cross Jesus did not resist. Jesus overcame Rome by not resisting. Jesus overcame Rome through love, non-resistance and non-violence. Why would it be different for us? Jesus forgave and loved those who were killing him before they knew they needed to repent. Should we not show the same love?
By Jewish law, the woman caught in adultery could have received capital punishment. Jesus refused to support a law that incurred violence. He forgave the woman and said “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
Many want to use government coercion to enforce morality held as right by Christians. What about the logs in our eyes?
When we vote we show our allegiance to the gods of this world: Wealth, health and personal security. Sometimes we call these gods “religious freedom” or “patriotism” or “Obamacare.”
Government, Violence and Coercion
The disciples wanted to share political power with Jesus.
42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10: 42-45 NIV.
If we are striving for coercive political power, how can we love and serve our enemies? Jesus exercised authority but those who accepted that authority followed him voluntarily. Church leaders may exercise authority in their church but the submission of church members to that authority is voluntary.
Jesus objected to involvement in government authority because exercising that power comes through coercion and the sword to force the citizens to obey. The tax collector may be a gentle person who treats the store owner with gentleness, but if the store owner refuses to pay the sales tax the IRS may garnish the store owner’s bank account. If the store owner still refuses to pay the IRS may send the police. If the store owner refuses to go with the police the store owner will be forced to go and if he resists he may be shot. All political power is upheld by the use of a Gun and violence.
If we vote, we make laws and approve politicians who are involved in this coercion and violence.
We become part of that violence.
The Christian’s Job
The Christian’s job is to teach people to obey and follow Jesus. As lives are changed, society is affected. Government actions improve as people change. For example, women and children were little more than slaves to men in the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus. Because lives were changed by Jesus, societies now have much greater respect for women and children and even people who do not follow Jesus hold women and children in greater respect than did the early Romans. Followers of Jesus have made many other improvements to our society because they followed Jesus.
But the changes were voluntary.
A History of Violence
Since the time of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, (339-397) the church has participated in politics and violence. Ambrose was the first to write arguing for Just War. He encouraged the government to reinstate the anti-pagan laws first started by Constantine’s son Constantius II.
The anti-pagan laws allowed the killing of pagans for religious reasons. Later the Orthodox and Coptic Christians parted ways with the Catholics Christians. Orthodox killed Catholic and Catholic killed Orthodox. Orthodox and Catholics refused to love their enemies and even killed their own Christian brothers and sisters.
Europe fought the 30 year war for religion (1618 – 1648). During the 30 year war Catholics killed Lutherans and Calvinists, Catholics killed Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists killed Catholics, Lutherans killed Lutherans, all killed Anabaptists. Some Anabaptists joined in the killing, refusing to love their Christian brothers and sisters. 25-30% of Europe’s population died in the 30 year religious war. 8,000,000 people died as a result of the conflict. Prior to the war Europe’s estimated population may have been about 25,000,000 people.
In World War II, Catholics, Lutherans, and Mennonites supported Hitler in his destruction and persecution of Jews. In World War II, Catholics, Lutherans, and Mennonites killed their Christian brothers and sisters from Germany. 75,000,000 people died in World War II
Now the US military kills innocent men, women and children and some who are Christians all over the world. US Catholics, Lutherans, and Mennonites join in the killing of our brothers and sisters in Christ from foreign lands. We refuse to love our Christian brothers and sisters. In the Middle East, the US has killed a minimum of hundreds of thousands with estimates into the millions since 9/11. The US has suffered thousands of casualties.
When we vote, we participate in this “Christian” violence. When we vote for the lesser of 2 evils, we still vote for evil.
If both major political parties are using devious means to get elected and are keeping only the convenient campaign promises, how do we know which candidate is the lesser of two evils.
When we vote we tacitly say that it is OK for others to participate in government policy that are counter to the teachings of Jesus. When we vote for Christians we are saying that it acceptable for them to represent me and disobey the teaching of Jesus.
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Copyright © 2019 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.