Sunday, September 07, 2008

Taking Issue with the Issues

It's a debate that cannot be avoided--education, abortion, environmentalism, gay marriage, poverty, energy, taxation, war...and a host of others. These are the issues we bring to the table in the political debate. Hot-button words that have specific associations and specific opinions for each person. A candidate's stance on one or many of these issues will dictate how we vote. These issues will be what we campaign for with our representatives on the local, state and national levels. Some will spurn letter writing campaigns and phone calls to congress. Some will gain national note through the media. They are the issues of the day in American politics and society.

Yet, in the debate I am beginning to take issue with the word "issue." I'm wondering if as Christians we should allow ourselves to be narrowed into a particular set of issues. Aren't we called to be a more wholistic people than that?

For instance, the hot-button topic of abortion. A good portion of this country is either passionately for or against abortion. But as a believer, I find that pro-life has to mean a lot more than an anti-abortion stance. Pro-life has to mean that I care about the quality of life a person will have throughout their life not just whether or not they are born. It means that if I am a proponent for adoption that I care about the state of the foster care system. It means that I care that people receive adequate nutrition, have access to health care, and have access to quality education. It also means that I care about decreasing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. And it means that I care about the health of the women who will continue to have abortions illegally if abortion is criminalized.

The wholistic approach is the example that Christ gave us. The woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery. The infighting between the Sadducees and the Pharisees over resurrection. The questions over Caesar's taxes. Christ didn't narrow any of these down to a specific issue but rather opened up the debate to look beyond into a bigger picture--into a redeemed creation.

Neither political party in this country has a hold on the Christian agenda. And it's not because there are not issues out there that we as Christian's should care about, but because Christianity is bigger than an agenda. Being a disciple of Christ means radically following a man who taught the armies that followed him to lay down their swords in order to break bread with one another, breaking bread notibly through the power of a miracle of loaves and fishes. We are called not to create our own political agenda but to live counter-cultural lives that dispel political agenda. We are called to be good stewards of our citizenship not for the sake of our country but for the sake of our Kingdom. When we enter the political realm and express opinion on the issues, we must strive to be wholistic people looking into the hope of a redeemed creation.

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