Awkward Questions for Everyone

It is a universal truth that any political/social movement has awkward questions that it must ask of itself, if for no other reason than so that it has answers for when its opponents ask them. And, also, so that the aftermath of their goal doesn’t end in everything falling apart for the people they were supposed to help–see the post-ACW abolitionists for an example, due to their lack of forethought in figuring out what to do with all those freed slaves.

Yes, any movement, or cohesive group.

Today this is mostly directed at the politically active factions of evangelical Christianity, the right and left, which are mirror images of each other in nearly all ways. Both tend towards interventionist government in those areas they believe to be relevant to Christian practice, while favoring a more hands-off approach in those areas they deem to be less crucial. Both tend to claim that the other misrepresents the teachings of Christ, especially as regards government-enforced morality (both are correct in this regard, in my opinion). Both also believe that they are on the right side of history, although the left is currently buoyed on a tide of court decisions while the right is counting babies. Both also have tendencies towards self-righteousness.

So, a few awkward questions are in order.

First, is the Christian right willing to deal with the fallout from supporting God’s Word in all its teachings, particularly those on sexual morality, as the surrounding culture grows more hostile to such?

Second, is it willing to concede that it has largely failed to make the case for the benefits of the free market for the poor and the downtrodden, and for why it is not unjust to deny people what they feel they want?

Third, is it willing to go to the effort to make that case?

Fourth, is it willing to understand why people see it as the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector?

However, the Christian left has some awkward questions of its own to answer.

First, is it willing to deal with the temptations of the halls of power and to not give in to them?

Second,  is it willing to concede that it has largely failed to make the case that taxes are charity and that feelings supersede Scripture?

Third, is it willing to deal with the consequences of trying to shove its co-religionists onto the dust heap of history?

Fourth, is it willing to ask if the tax collector in the parable would have been forgiven if he had said, “Lord, I thank you that I am not like that judgmental Pharisee?”

I don’t expect anyone to have the answers to these questions–in point of fact, I don’t have answers to any of these, beyond the notion that human behavior is self-centered.

But these will be answered, either now in word and thought, or simply in action later. The latter is inadvisable.

‘Til next time,

Lowell Van Ness


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