Why am I, the advocate of a Christian fast from politics, writing blog posts on politics? In Tempting Faith, I argue that Christians should take all of the time, money, and energy they have been expending on politics and expend them on the poor for a period of time–I suggest two years. Christianity in America has become so tied into politics that hardly anyone can hear the name “Jesus” without thinking of certain platform positions; that’s a problem we need to fix.
But if I’m writing posts about politics, it is because I want to keep advocating my position that political obsession is a spiritual disease. To that end, a quote from an article by Mike Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush:
“While many evangelicals are impatient with the priorities of the religious right, it would be a mistake to argue that they are disillusioned by politics itself. The new evangelicals are not calling for cultural retreat, but for broader engagement. Politics, at its best, has the goal of serving your neighbor. Those who, in their own personal disillusionment, recommend a ‘fast’ from politics are really recommending a ‘fast’ from the pursuit of justice—-which is not an option for Biblical Christians.”
Mike and I have known each other for a long time. He is a genius and perhaps the most talented speechwriter of the past 100 years. He loves Jesus and has a heart for the poor. He is a great husband and a great dad. But on this point, he is confused.
First, as Jesus’ followers our first goal isn’t to create a better world through politics. Jesus didn’t say, “Love your neighbor as yourself through Senate bill 184.” He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Similarly, Jesus didn’t say in his terrifying discussion at the end of Matthew 25, “Come into my kingdom all of those who spent time advocating for tax cuts for pharmaceutical companies so they can produce cheaper drugs.” He said, “Care for the sick.” Christians get confused when they think politics is the way to serve your neighbor. CS Lewis’ admonition for Christians to never use faith as a means to a political end is ignored, and Lewis’ prediction that their faith will become corrupt is realized.
Second, my recommendation for a “fast” isn’t for Christians to never again be involved in politics. Rather, it is for Christians to get a real perspective on politics. After all, the largest Christian political organization–the Family Research Council–doesn’t mention poverty, HIV/AIDS, Africa, or any other hurting class of people in their top 10 list of priorities. Defunding the ACLU is #2, however.
We need a fast to gain perspective. And we need it now.