As a true Gen-Xer, I once again find myself angsty as I fully live between two dominant generational movements. I standing in the middle of the evangelical boomers who are beat down after a dramatic ride as spearheading the religious right and the rising millennial evangelicals who are firmly embracing the religious left.
Back in the good 'ol days the boomer evangelicals realized that they could join forces and become a political powerhouse. The moral majority or the religious right led by James Dobson and others took shape and has been played a major role in the political world for 20+ years. And in the predictable pattern of the pendulum, the next generation of evangelicals have pushed back on the way the religious right used their power and influence to crush, belittle, stereotype, and marginalize those who didn't agree with their positions. Abortion, Darwinism, and homosexuality were the issues that the religious right took up and made a stand for God and used the power of the government to get others to comply.
For a ton of reasons, the moral majority and the religious right have now gone the way of the dinosaur.
They over played their hand and in the process have given the church a black eye in the process. When the church felt like it had to defend Bush's invasion of Iraq because he was an evangelical Christian, this movement truly jumped the shark.
But what I have noticed over the past four years is that we evangelicals have not forsaken our ways and balanced our views of politics, and the role the church should play in government. Instead we completely missed the correcting season and have jumped head-long into embracing the other end of the political spectrum.
The religious left is doing the exact same thing:
For as self-righteous as the religious right was and for all they ways they sold out many of their convictions just to have a seat at the table of political power, the religious left has done that in spades. I am blown away and actually horrified at my "tolerant" and "open-minded" Christian friends who have bought the exact same lie as the religious right did. This lie is that political power is a dangerous and dirty game of money and power. And when we has the church jump in with one political party or the other, we lose our God given role of being prophets and priests in our culture.
I can not believe how little we have learned as the church over the last 30-40 years. I am heart sick to see the political discord of our country be simply about cheap shots and character assassinations. And as a Gen-Xer living between two great generations expressing their faith in two completely different political expressions, I would love to offer a little nudge of correction.
Political self-righteousness is an anathema!
There is no place for those of us who follow Jesus to be self-righteous in general. We all know who got blown up in scripture the most, it was the self-righteous pharisees. But political self-righteousness, in my opinion, is an even worse form of self-righteousness. Because now you are hitching your faith and convictions to a political system that is fraught with abuse and corruption. To think that your political allegiances are righteous is an oxymoron. And to turn a blind eye to them in order to advance your particular passions is exactly what the world does and the church should flee from.
The religious right has been beat over the head with this for years. And rightly so. But I hope my friends on the religious left will not turn a blind eye to their just as blatant self-righteousness when it comes too their political preference.
We are ambassadors of another kingdom:
The moment we, as the church, give any political party our allegiance, we have so missed our unique role in ushering in the kingdom of God. As good citizens we should be in the middle of the public square, we should debate our ideas, we should strive for the common good of all citizens and we should vote! But we must not buy into the lie that the other side is evil, and make our opponents caricatures. We see the humanity in all people and we raise the tenor of the discussion and of the debate.
As followers of Christ our hope is not found in the outcome of the election or in the government at all. Our hope is found in Jesus Christ alone. We are citizens of his kingdom and work our butts off partnering with him to help usher in his kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. And if we have learned anything from the religious right, it is that thinking politics is our main avenue to accomplish this only hurts the church and the cause of Christ. My the religious right learn this lesson sooner rather than later so we do not have an entirely new generation become disillusioned with politics and the church.
Debate well, love better, and may grace and humility be the markers of the religious left as well as the religious right. And my our strongest defense and our most vigorous debate be for Jesus and his bride, not in the politicians who are simply pandering for our vote.