Christians and Lobbying – Part 4

According to Wikipedia.org Lobbying is defined as “a concerted effort designed to effect influence, typically over government authorities and elected officials. It can consist of the outreach of legislative members, public actions (e.g. mass demonstrations), or combinations of both public and private actions (e.g. encouraging constituents to contact their legislative representatives). The term is normally used to describe the professional occupation, also known as “government affairs” or “public affairs”. Practitioners may work in specialist organizations or as part of government relations or as public relations consultancies.”

From time to time a big ticket item hits the nerve of Christian “leaders”. They make calls to people who make calls to people who make calls to other people. Eventually we have all of American Christendom refusing to shop at Walmart because they won’t say Merry Christmas, or refusing to buy a Ford because they support Homosexual rights, etc. There are more “political” examples too, such as, Christian groups lobbying to keep Mexican immigrants out of America.

All of this seems to go against what we need to be doing as Christians. Similarly to running in a political office or voting, these sort of things end up working against us. Not only are we seen as a nuisance to other non-Christians, but we end up ruining and breaking possible future relationships. A great example is immigration. I know many American Christians who want all Mexicans to be removed from America. It seems that this mindset is more American than Christian… not not even very American considering America’s history. I wonder how many of them have considered the consequences that has on their ability to witness to and disciple Mexicans. Not only are you trying to force them out of this country, but you are essentially cutting them off from you as a source for the gospel.

What we need to remember is when we lobbying against something, vote against something, or run against someone/thing then we are causing a division between us and them that usually has nothing to do with the gospel. It is one thing to show someone they are in sin and explain the gospel to them… it is another to take a different stance on Social Security than half the public and have that be the stumbling bloc that prevents you from sharing the gospel with them.

Thoughts?

Comments

  1. Alan Knox says

    Lew,

    I haven’t commented on this series, but as you know I’ve been reading it religiously… :)

    I like your focus in this posts, but I think people have been missing that focus. In this last post you’ve made the focus very clear: when we set ourselves against people about issues that are not related to the gospel, then we are setting ourselves up as a wall between them and the gospel – we become a stumbling block.

    Even if people do not agree with your conclusions, I hope they consider your point about focusing on the gospel.

    -Alan

  2. Bernard Shuford says

    At the heart, EVERYTHING I do is affected by what I TRULY believe about the gospel. I cannot escape that. If I really don’t believe in the power of it, I won’t be as concerned about sharing it with others.

    However, as I’ve mentioned in another comment but never quite at odds, I stand in loving disagreement with Lew here.

    The Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom. That was a political move. It took them away from MANY people. By your logic, they should have simply endured persecution and tolerated whatever was handed down to them. They were in contact with many of the leaders, jailers, and “soldiers” of the day, it would appear, and surely those people needed Christ, too, right?

    To preserve the ability of Americans to actually share the gospel with other Americans and non-Americans alike, Christians have a HUGE vested interest that your (Lew’s) position largely ignores. Sure, we can remain “politically correct” by dodging hot-button issues like immigration, abortion, taxes, international military action, and so forth, and hopefully win some souls by doing so – at least by your logic.

    HOWEVER! I maintain that we have a responsibility to future generations to behave in a political manner that help ensure their ability to serve Christ in free, open, and public manner. We may maintain that whether or not the Ten Commandments is on a courthouse wall doesn’t mean anything in the short term – and it doesn’t – but the age that we are living in will be seen by future generations as “the time that American refused to acknowledge God.” How will we be seen? As Christians who were ashamed of their faith and hid in their homes and churches without even attempting to stand for what we believe? When, in the year 2308, someone reads a history description of 2008 – or sees it reenacted on the hologram deck of a space exploration vessel – will they be proud of how Christians behaved, or will they see us as a religion that was afraid to stand up to an anti-religious establishment and say “Give me and my children Jesus, or give me death.”

    The gospel is most important. Period. Opportunities to spread it should be seized with vigor. I find myself falling short of that on a daily basis, I confess. It is more important to spread the gospel than to plan a boycott – I agree (I despise boycotts for the exact reasons you mention.) I have seriously reconsidered my position on the AFA and the Ford boycott in past months, and I’m a big Walmarter. I basically don’t boycott. But at a political activism level, I think we have a responsibility to work to keep people in office who basically promote the ideals we espouse.

    We also have a huge responsibility to pray for our leaders.

  3. nomodiphas says

    Alan, I agree that we should try to avoid being a stumbling block, but the fact of the matter is we can never completely avoid it. The truth is laid out in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. The light came into the world, but the people rejected it? Why? Beause it was not preached correctly or because those who preached it did not live it perfectly? Not at all, they rejected the light because their deeds we’re evil and they loved the darkness.

    Jesus did not go out of his way to avoid offending people. He said in order to have any part in Him we must ‘eat his flesh and drink his blood.’ (John 6) When the people got offended at this he did not apoligize or try to explain what he meant, he just repeated it all the more emphatically. Why did He explain this truth in that manner? An analogy to canabalism would have been super offensive to that culture and it became a stumbling block, i.e. an excuse to justify rejection.

    One could say, but Jesus offended them with the gospel and not some non-essential argument. That is true. But Jesus also says a sparrow does not fall without God in heaven taking notice. How non-essential is that? God cares about little things. However, we need to be careful to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness — what good is it to gain the whole world and forfeit our souls? We need to be careful to put the greater first, if we put the little things first, like politics, we will lose all.

  4. nomodiphas says

    Bernard, well put. To whom much is given, much is expected. We’ve been given political power and freedom. I don’t think it is right for us to abdicate our power (though I admit I may be wrong). We should use the power we’ve been given for God’s Kingdom and glory. In my opinion this is best done by Godly principles of government (advancing freedom and justice).

    Jesus said: give to Ceasor what is Ceasor’s and to God what is God’s. We have a civic responsibility. In an empire, it is to pay taxes. In a democracy one could argue that our duty is involvement and the lowest level of involvement is voting.

    –It is great that in love we can discuss things and have unity in disagreement.

  5. Alan Knox says

    nomodiphas,

    First, I want to say that I have appreciated your comments, especially the tone that you have taken in your disagreements. I think I would enjoy meeting and talking with you.

    I would not disagree with anything you said in your reply to me. Yes, we are going to be a stumbling block, but I don’t think that means we have to be a stumbling block in politics. Jesus also said not to cause people to stumble, and Paul said that we wanted to be all things to all people. Certainly, there are limits to both of those, but I’m not sure that politics plays into it.

    Also, in my comment, I was not agreeing with Lew. I have not decided where I stand on this issue, or even if there is a reason to take a stand on this issue. Lew’s conscience tells him not to get involved in politics – he should not. If your conscience tells you to do so, then by all means do. Of course, I’m assuming that both you and Lew are indwelled by the Spirit and thus are following the Spirit and not simply your own ideas and opinions.

    I do believe that many people get involved in politics and care about government because they have a “representative obedience” view. When I say “representative obedience”, I mean that people think that they are obedient to God if their leaders are obedient to God. Thus, if their government takes a stand against sin, then they personally are taking a stand against sin. A similar thing happens in the church. If someone’s church has a visitation program, then that person feels obedient to God in the area of evangelism. I call this “representative obedience”, and I don’t think God looks at things that way at all.

    Again, thanks for the discussion and the Christ-like tone.

    -Alan

  6. Alan Knox says

    Bernard,

    I just realize that my response to nomodiphas may be read in a way to indicate that you are not disagreeing in a Christ-like manner. I did not mean it that way at all. I simply responded to him since his commented was directly addressed to me.

    I appreciate what you said about focusing on the gospel, and I would venture to say that most of us need to be more obedient in that area.

    By the way, just as an aside, the government cannot take away our ability to share the gospel – although it can punish us for doing so.

    Thanks again for the discussion!

    -Alan

  7. nomodiphas says

    Alan, I totally agree about your comment on following one’s conscience. It reminds a bit about what Paul said regarding eating meat. On the one hand, all meat is clean, but on the other hand if one’s conscience bothers them about meating eat sacraficed to idols, then it is a sin for them to disregard their conscience and eat meat. Further, the one who eats meat is to defer in love to the one who doesn’t so that their faith may be preserved.
    (But of course this isn’t a perfect analogy because God declared all food to be clean, but didn’t say the same about politics).

    But still, I often think about this. How can I defer in love to my brothers and sisters in Christ so that their faith is not harmed by some important, but unessential, sphere of life? The conclusion I’ve come to thus far is to not discuss politics if it gets someone riled up and brings disunity between us. My thought is that Truth (as in the Truth of the gospel) must never be denied and I should not deny it in order to be on good terms, or even worse, ‘accepted’ someone. That seems to fall into a territory where I am fearing man above God.

    However truth (as in political truth — important, but non-essential truth) is not more important than the gospel and if I break unity over this truth and lose my witness, I am again putting the things of man over God.

    Yet, there seem to be times when one must fight and bring disunity and even die for a value (for justice or the freedom of others). I think of the Braveheart example. If I lived in a society where my wife and daugthers were systamatically taken and raped by the local ruler, I think it is justified (and maybe? expected) for me to stand up and fight and die if necessary on behalf of their value, dignity, and rights.

    Obviously any type of injustice we suffer is nowhere close to that magnitude. But I still wrestle with these things. How much should I lay down my right to an opinion that is non-essential because it is not the gospel and how much should I stand up for things that God values like freedom and justice?

    I want an accross the board, drawn in the sand answer, but I don’t think I’ll ever get one. I am constantly reminded that my walk with God is not an equation (punch the factors into a problem and out comes an answer), but rather an ongoing relationship where I need to rely on and be led by the spirit in every given situation.

    –All this is not to say that there is no black and white, the Bible makes it clear that much is black and white. But there is also much that appears to be grey that we can only discern the shades of as we grow closer to the light.

    All this weighs down on me because I am in a situation where daily I am asked to share, explain, and develop my notions of justice with people who are very much without the Truth. It can be a challenge to know when to speak and when to be quiet. When it is of God to speak and when my desire to speak is motivated from my pride, my desire to be proved right.

    -So thanks again all for an interesting discussion. I’m glad I found this blog. I’ll be away from a computer for about a week starting tomorrow, but I’ll hope to rejoin after that.

    One last thing, an interesting movie to check out is ‘Amazing Grace.’ It is about a British politician, William Wilburforce, who comes to the Lord while in office. At first he thinks he must leave politics for his faith, but with time changes his mind and decides to use his power to end slavery in England. –It’s a thought provoking movie in the least.

  8. Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney says

    Right now what is bugging me about the lobbying Christian blocs are the assumptions about who we’re going to end up voting for in the Presidential election!

    Because I’m a white girl, homeschool mom, Southern Baptist by membership (but not affiliation anymore), conservative, card carrying republican….everyone thinks I must vote for either Ron Paul or Huckabee.

    When I drop words like McCain, Thompson, or Romney everyone just drops their jaw and gives me the “Christian” lecture on my duties of voting and how I should do it and for whom.

    I’m getting really good at tuning out.

  9. Alan

    That is correct, the focus is that we ought not set ourselves against people because of these issues.

    Bernard

    You said, “The Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom. That was a political move. It took them away from MANY people. By your logic, they should have simply endured persecution and tolerated whatever was handed down to them.”

    The conclusion you have drawn from my logic is an accurate description of what I feel. It was a mistake for the Puritans to flee the persecution. However, I cannot say that I would not have done the same.

    I do, however, have no interest in being “politically correct” – just “politically unattached.” If the Christ thing to do is to not abort babies (and I think it is), I think we should do everything in our power to lead people away from aborting babies and towards a relationship with Christ. I just happen to believe making laws to prevent people from aborting babies does actually solve either of those requirements.

    I also tend to think that our ability to serve Christ in an “open, free, and public manner” has hindered us from doing so. Plus Paul lived in an age where it was illegal to proclaim Christ and his works and he still did so. So I am not too concerned with it becoming illegal in our nation. You asked about the age being seen as “the time that Americans refused to acknowledge God.” I am not at all concerned with that statement either… if you changed it to “Christians refused to acknowledge God” then we would probably have a debate as to whether or not they were christians. The way I see it, no matter what happens in the American political realm, Christians will still be here and we will still be testifying to Christ. Perhaps a better response to the Tend Commandments issue, would not have been scream crazy Christians outside the Courthouse that the press showed over and over again but a group of peaceful Chritsians saying, “You can take away the Ten Commandments, but that does not change who we are and who God is. By the way, have I told you about what Jesus did for you?” (or something like that).

    Nomodiphas

    I agree with what Alan said in his response to you, we cannot avoid being a stumbling block in all cases. You two pretty much had your own discussion going on, but I wanted to point something out about your last comment. you said that “there seems to be times when one must fight and bring disunity and even die for a value (for justice or the freedom of others).”

    I think I agree with this (maybe not if it is taken too far). As Christians we should always be seekers of justice and when we can we should help the world be treated in a just manner. Maybe this is where my political stance fails, but I sense that politics tend to get in the way of doing this stuff. Anyways, the point I like is that we fight for “others.” In America, we are fighting for ourselves and that is why we are a nuisance so often.

    I have heard of Wilburforce before and it is great that he helped to end slavery in England. I cannot say that he was wrong for what he did. I just happen to believe that we shouldn’t be involved in politics. As you have stated before, “I could be wrong”. :)

    Lindsey

    Yeah, if I am annoyed by Christian lobby groups, imagine how the world feels! I have an Aunt who answered directly to Bill Clinton, her jaw drops when I say “don’t vote.” She also didn’t like your bumper sticker :).

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  10. Bernard Shuford says

    Lew – One brief thing, not to belabor a point, and I’ll leave it at that…

    If you don’t consider fighting against abortion to be fighting for others, I must sadly say that you and I are on far different wavelengths.

    My primary position on abortion is that babies are living, defenseless human beings. The state (the government) presumes and is responsible to protect its citizens, by law enforcement agencies, rescue services, etc. HOWEVER, the state has the audacity to say that the rights of the mother preclude the rights of the child while that child is inside the womb, which should be the safest place it ever experiences. Due to the ATTITUDE of the state regarding this, the American public has come to accept abortion as being legitimate and acceptable. This leads to more and more abortion, and the state, which should defend helpless children, does nothing to counteract the trend.

    While I am terribly disappointed when an individual mother chooses to terminate her pregnancy by violent means, I consider the LARGER crime to be the fact that the United States government CONDONES such activity to the point that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a state or local government to outlaw this activity.

    My efforts (tiny as they may be) and position regarding abortion are driven by the fact that government should be required to fulfill its duty to all citizens, including the unborn. Babies cannot speak for themselves, but I believe they have a God-given right to life that we as human beings are called to honor.

    If good men do nothing, the situation of the world will continue to decline. It’s going to decline anyway, but I cannot agree with your position. I believe that Christians have a huge responsibility – a God commanded responsibility – to participate in politics and government in a way to be salt and light to the world around them.

    I speak in total love – I respect your conviction about this, and I understand that you believe you are following the leading of the Holy Spirit in this matter, but I believe you are very much out of line with the Word of God to say that NO Christian should be involved in politics. Your PERSONAL situation may be that it would be entirely out of the “will of God” for YOU to be involved, but I honestly believe that you are very wrong to say that no Christian should be.

    With that, I’ll cease and desist because I don’t want to argue endlessly and risk our friendship. I hope and pray that God continues to speak to your heart.

    As in the past with matters of church attendance, etc., I hope that you and I can disagree peacefully and in Christian decency. :)

    God bless!

    Bernard

  11. Hey Bernard,

    I think you may have misunderstood me. You seem to have gottent he idea that I don’t consider fighting against abortion to be fighting for otehrs. But this is what I said, “If the Christ thing to do is to not abort babies (and I think it is), I think we should do everything in our power to lead people away from aborting babies and towards a relationship with Christ. I just happen to believe making laws to prevent people from aborting babies does actually solve either of those requirements.”

    I think we agree, abortion is a very sad thing. I think however your focus is more on the babies life, than the mothers decision to terminate the babies life. I can totally understand this point, but I tend to think it is a point that is not ours to deal with.

    Have you ever heard for the act of exposure? It was what people use to do (and sometimes still do) in the Roman Empire. It probably occured many other places, but I find it interesting that Paul never mentioned this. The act of exposure is also known as child abandonment. It was done for many reasons, such as poor people couldn’t afford to have children, so when they gave birth they would set the child out in a field to die. This is a horrible and awful thing to do. There were other reasons why people would exposure their infants, such as worship of gods, etc.

    Paul and other N.T. writers are amazingly silent on this issue. I do not see anyone writing on either side of this issue. Now I do think that Paul would condone such activity, but we do not have any evidence to suggest that he tried to make it illegal. What is interesting is that history shows that Christians were known for taking in these children and raising them as their own.

    This is how I see the abortion issue. We need to do what we can to take in these children. But ultimately if a mother wants to get an abortion (legal or not) she will. It is a sad and horrific thing, but in reality it is in Gods hands.

    I hope that clarifies my position on abortion.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  12. Correction.. “I do NOT think Paul would condone such activity…”

  13. Bernard Shuford says

    Lew – Argument from silence? Not convincing to me. I’m not applying Biblical COMMANDS, I’m living by Biblical principles (in this particular issue).

    I don’t want to play arugment games, so I’m going to nod, say “I understand your point”, and go on.

    Thanks for the discourse and for lucidly stating your beliefs.

  14. Alan Knox says

    Lew, Bernard, et. al.

    Since Scripture does not tell us “vote” or “not vote”… “get involved in politics” or “do not get involved in politics”, etc… isn’t everything we’re discussing here arguments from silence? If someone argues that Christians should vote, the argument may be derived from Scripture, but Scripture does not speak directly concerning the issue. If someone argues that Christians should not vote, the argument may be derived from Scripture, the Scripture does not speak directly concerning the issue.

    So, yes, Lew’s argument is an argument from silence. But, Bernard, your argument is an argument from silence as well.

    -Alan

  15. Bernard Shuford says

    Alan – Argument from silence was concerning Lew’s discussion of the abandonment of children, which he specifically pointed out as an argument from silence. I wasn’t referring to his position on voting as being an argument from silence.

  16. Steve Sensenig says

    Bernard, you wrote:

    Due to the ATTITUDE of the state regarding this, the American public has come to accept abortion as being legitimate and acceptable. This leads to more and more abortion….

    The problem is, the numbers don’t actually support your thesis. Check out the following link:

    Report: Abortions at lowest number since 1974

  17. Bernard Shuford says

    Steve – In this case, I’m glad that my numbers are wrong. My joy at being wrong, though, is tempered by the fact that there are that many abortions. That’s 2.28 PER MINUTE.

    My heart breaks. I’m glad for a decline, and MY logic behind all this may be wrong, but the logic behind allowing abortion on demand is even more wrong.

    I’m not an activist, but I support a CERTAIN TYPE of political activism. I do not support “street marches”, picket lines, and T-shirts which disparage women who need help. I approve of ministries that HELP those women, and I approve of activists who work at a legislative level to make abortion less freely available.

    Again, I’m trying to not argue this to death. I understand Lew’s point. My mother believes very much the same way he does.