Keep perspective when balancing politics and religion | To trust

Whoever said not to talk about religion and politics has made a mistake. I would suggest that perhaps it is more important to discuss those things with the people we have the most difficulty talking to. I didn’t say it would be fun. Those are the main things we can discuss.

Before I say much more here, I want to talk about the great thinker, CS Lewis. In Christian Apologetics, he said. “This raises the question of theology and politics. The closest I can come to a solution of the boundary problem between them is that theology teaches us which ends are desirable and which means are legal, while politics teaches which means are effective. Thus theology tells us that every man should have a fair wage. Politicians tell how this is likely to be achieved. Theology tells us which of these means are in accordance with justice and charity. On the political question, the guidance does not come from Revelation but from natural prudence, knowledge of complicated facts, and mature experience. Of course, if we have these qualifications, we may express our political opinions: but then we must make it very clear that we are making our own personal judgment and not under the command of the Lord. Not many priests have these qualifications. Most political sermons teach the congregation nothing but what newspapers are read in the Rectory.”

Given these thoughts, it is clear that we are starting many of these conversations on the wrong side. We start talking after we reach our conclusions about how to do what we think we should do. Or maybe we’ll start with politics rather than theology, which is suggested by the last sentence in Lewis’s quote.

In this time of division and judgment, it is worth taking the time to discuss what we should do and then try to determine how best to do it. I doubt we would agree, but we would have similar goals in common. If that doesn’t work, at least we understand why the goals are different.

From a religious point of view, deciding whether to start with “justice for all” or just for those “born here” can be challenging. Should it be extended to those of other nations, or just those in our borders? Should fair wages be paid only to those who live in our economy or also to those who work for a pittance to maintain it? Any faith that does not cross political, ethnic, or national boundaries is not a faith worth having. It is certainly not the one seen in Scripture.

It also seems rather strange to me to proclaim your faith and then lay a platform that berates opponents. Wouldn’t it make more sense to avoid the danger of breaking the commandment not to take the Lord’s name in vain? Maybe suggest a platform and let others decide if it’s consistent with the heavier cases.

We all understand that rhetoric can be taken seriously, but not always literally. However, it is the process of talking that moves us forward, and rhetoric has a way of muting opponents and talking becomes more difficult.

We are in election time. It will be over soon and we will have a few months of respite before it winds up again. It’s important to remember that our friends, neighbors, and family all have reasons (for them, good reasons) for choosing the way they do. Respect that.

May we all seek peace and wisdom as we exercise our right (a given political right – not religious) to elect our public policy makers. We are not each other’s enemies. We are all inhabitants of this planet. Keep perspective. Pray, and if you choose to do so, vote.

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