Saturday, October 14, 2006

Politics and the Kingdom of God

It has made the news here in Tennessee over the last 24 hours that country music star Sara Evans has asked for a divorce from her husband. It seems that Sara's husband, who by the standards of Southern womanhood hit the jackpot with the beautiful Sara, stands accused of compiling and keeping a regular list of sexual liasons, women he met on the internet. According to at least one affidavit, he stands accused of arranging tawdry sexual encounters with hundreds of women.

This would be stuff for the supermarket tabloids were it not for the reality that the husband in question isn't just "that idiot that cheated on Sara Evans," but Craig Schleske, former Oregon Congressional candidate and self-styled Christian conservative leader. Well-read Nashville paleoconservative blogger A.C. Kleinheider, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, writes:

The divide in this country isn't liberal and conservative, it is the elite and the people. These kinds of scandals the Foley debacle and this Schelske fella are the biggest argument for separating religion from politics.

Not because of some leftist and imagined constitutional motive but because politics, and entertainment for that matter corrupt religion and true faith.

I don't agree with Kleinheider's supposition that religion and politics should be completely separate, not when he also says:

Faith is important and it should define your politics...

Well you can't have it both ways, either your faith defines your politics or it is separate from them-there really is no middle ground on that matter. The problem when people like Mr. Schleske or Mark Foley comes along is that it reminds Christians of the uncomfortable reality of the fallen and imperfect nature of humanity.

Christians who choose to be involved in public life open themselves up to the shady and sometimes tawdry world of the political elite. I agree with those who say that these folks (the elite) live in a different universe than the rest of us, but for us to say "political life is off-limits to the Kingdom of God because it is too dangerous" is for Christians to say that they surrender a part of the world over to the forces of darkness, lest those fighting on our side sustain terrible injury. We must carry on even in the face of knowing that people have fallen in spiritual warfare because retreat is the same as surrender in this battle.

That's not to say politics is something that every Christian should be involved in or that our lives need to revolve around political things. On the contrary, politics is something that is entirely to be found in this present world and like Christ, we represent a kingdom that is not of this present world. Politics should be used by Christians as a tool to bring us good civil ministers of justice-nothing more and nothing less.

When things like this divorce or the Foley scandal happen, it is common to hear people on the Left call all Christians involved in public life "hypocrits." We recognize the fallen nature of humanity and we call wrongs exactly as they are. If Craig Schleske were an upstanding liberal Democrat, we might even hear a few on that side of the aisle try and defend the man-it wouldn't be the first time. The Christian reaction is to condemn these wicked acts and pray for Craig Schleske-an altogether different reaction than the secular left, unless the guilty party is a conservative Republican, then condemnation is shouted from the rooftops.



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