Remember Net Neutrality? It’s the issue of whether or not Internet Service Providers should be allowed to treat some internet traffic preferentially, especially if some third party is willing to pay a premium price for such preferential treatment. (If that was a boring sentence to read, imagine how much fun it was to write!)
an eternity a brief period in late 2014 and early 2015, Net Neutrality became the subject of intense partisan warfare. Why was such a mundane issue the focus of partisan combat? In short, because it became politicized.
Moral Issues and Political Positions
The unfortunate reality of our contemporary political atmosphere is that when an issue is politicized, the exact content of that issue no longer matters. All that matters is fidelity to our own political ideology. We wage partisan warfare because Our Side Is Right, and the merits of the issue being fought are secondary to whether or not Our Side Wins.
The unfortunate side effect of this, though, is that often our fidelity to our political party obscures our actual understanding of the issue at hand. Our political affiliation winds up being the most important factor in how we see things.
The result is that we don’t (or can’t!) think about the issue dispassionately. We don’t listen to—let alone talk with—other people. Once the issue is politicized, we are under intense pressured to toe the party line, facts of the matter notwithstanding. This pressure, though, has a pernicious influence on our ability to think straight about our faith.
The problem is that people often mistake moral issues (that is, convictions based on our understanding of our Christian faith) for political positions.
When this happens, if we are not careful, we fall back into politicized thinking, and allow our political affiliation to drive our consideration on those issues. If we do that, we are in danger of not thinking biblically, but politically, and allowing our politics to trump our faith.The problem is that people often mistake #moral issues for #political positions Click To Tweet
One example of this would be the question of human sexual behavior. It is (in the humble opinion of this author) clear that God has imparted a set of guidelines regarding human sexual expression, including (but not limited to) the issue of homosexual expression, and these guidelines do not change according to the whims of cultural opinion.
One of our political parties has committed itself to achieving certain rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Americans. If we allow our political affiliation to be the most important factor in our thinking regarding these Americans, then our commitment to that political position might render us unable to hear the bible when it speaks about regarding the moral issue of human sexual behavior. If we do that, we wind up serving our political masters, and not our master in heaven.
The other of our political parties has committed itself to minimizing—if not eliminating—the government’s role in helping and supporting poor Americans. This, however, can lead to all manner of callous and uncompassionate attitudes toward people in poverty.We wind up serving our #political masters, and not our master in #heaven. Click To Tweet
Politics as an Idol
If we allow our political affiliation to be the most important factor in our thinking regarding these Americans, then our commitment to that political position might render us unable to hear the bible when it speaks about regarding the moral issue of care for the poor. If we do that, we wind up serving a political agenda, and not God’s agenda.
Doing so, however, would be unfaithful to God’s intention for his people. It is abundantly clear from both the Old and the New Testaments that God loves the poor, that He is on the side of the poor, and that any society that would be a Godly society must reflect that love of the poor, at every level of society.
We must not allow a political position to render us incapable of biblical thinking about a moral issue.
The danger, whether the issue is care for the poor, or sexual behavior, or anything else, is that our political affiliation will take pride of place in our thinking, and not our commitment to God’s will for the world as expressed in the bible. If we allow that, we risk putting our faith in the service of our politics!
We run the risk of subordinating God’s commands to political imperatives, of using a political measuring stick to interpret God’s word. In short, we run the risk of idolatry: making our politics supreme over everything else in our lives.
If we are going to be faithfully Christian in our culture, then we have got to allow God to be supreme over our every thought, on every issue—even the ones that have been politicized.
This means that we will, inevitably, have to part ways (at least in some measure) with our own political party and its ideology. When that ideology conflicts with God’s intention for his human creatures, we have to give way to God, even if –perhaps especially if—that means saying “no” to politics.
When God is supreme over our every thought, we will see the world with eyes unclouded by political ideology, with a mind gripped by the story of all that God is doing in the world. We must not allow ourselves to be pressed into the political—and politicized—pattern of this world.
Rather, we are to be transformed by renewing our mind, so that we will understand God’s will in, and for, this world. In other words, according to Paul, we will understand what is good, and pleasing, and perfect.