When Faith and Politics Collide, Pt. II
|This is a theme that keeps haunting me. How to integrate faith into the world of politics. I am not talking about the upfront, in some ways, easy stuff. I am talking about the nuanced things. The type of political behavior that often goes unchallenged by those of us who claim a position of faith.|
Yesterday I was driving home after taking out a loan to fill my up tank. Doing my best to stimulate the economy if you will. And listening to the radio. I happened on a radio show hosted by a guy named Mark Levin.
If you have never heard this guy, he is certainly worth a listen, catch him here. Anyways, here is what struck me. Levin, a former Reagan Administration official, is so angry, I can't see how he keeps it together. He is mocking of others, belittling, harsh, and at times, just plain mean.
And he offers the objects of his ridicule, the opportunity to come on his show so that he can "set them straight" and say it to their faces.
So that is the politics side. Let's take a look at the faith side. At least from a Christian perspective and what Jesus had to say in the Sermon on the Mount.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven...
..."You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.
Now as I read this stuff, a few things jump out at me. Especially the "love your enemies" words. I grew up in a church where the minister (that's what we used to call them before we switched over to pastor) one day preached on this passage. And then he prayed. For the people and soldiers of North Vietnam. And that day, people left our church, never to return because they did not believe we should pray for those Communist heathens. Despite Jesus' words.
The "do not murder" words present a different dilemma. Not those words per se, but the second part that equates our thoughts with deeds. As I read this, if I wish evil, bad, or misfortune on someone, I am as bad as a murderer. Because it is a heart issue. And for me, heart always precedes action.
Mark Levin certainly did not have a Christlike attitude on his radio show. But that's okay, because as far as I know, he is not claiming Christ. And I know that there is difference between radio people like Mark Levin and Michael Savage, and the Rush Limbaughs of the world. But it is a difference of degrees.
So here we go with the questions. Why is it that so many Christian conservatives like these guys? I don't think anyone can reasonably say that people like Savage and Rush do not mock those who have different views. A quick listen to any Paul Shanklin parody will prove that.
Is God happy with the attitudes expressed by these people? I would say no. Because I believe you can hold to most of the political ideas of these hosts and share them in a way that pleases God. Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager are evidence enough of that.
Now before you conservatives get all foamed up and ready to scream at me, I'd be remiss if I did not mention that yes, the other side is guilty of this too. And perhaps more so.
The manner in which Revs. Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pflegar have excoriated their political enemies is, in my opinion, inexcusable. Not only have their words been mocking and hurtful, they have been shared from the pulpit. By people that essentially have taken an oath to be witnesses of all that is good about God. We can agree to disagree about the substance of what they had to say, but the manner in which their messages were shared was filled with condescension, ridicule, vitriol, and evidence of a mean spirit.
For people of faith, how does any of this show love for our enemies, or for those who disagree with us? How is God honored by these guys, and more importantly us, when we hold them up as beacons of what we believe?