Can / should Christians operate in the political arena?

Having been brought up in a Christian setting where it was considered taboo for a Christian to be actively involved in politics and later to take an opposite view, I was taken with two items on my social media feed when I arrived home this evening to do with this very subject that got me thinking along the lines: it is all well and good for Christians to get involved politically if they can do good and act according to their conscience but there are consequences operating in our present politically correct paradigm.

The first was a call: “Tell the BBC to stop bashing the DUP for being socially conservative” that wrote:The BBC and other media have been vilifying the DUP over the past few days for believing in traditional marriage. This follows last week’s election outcome which is likely to see the Democratic Unionist Party (the largest party in Northern Ireland) give support to the minority Conservative Government. There has been a sustained attack on DUP MPs simply because they are socially conservative. Two issues are always quoted – their opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. The BBC in particular has seemed far more interested in pursuing this than asking about the DUP’s policy on Brexit or the economy. Even if, like C4M, you are not party political, I expect you are outraged by the media’s actions. John Humphrys laughed on Monday morning when a former DUP assembly member explained they are a compassionate party. Humphrys immediately claimed that “most people” think their stance is “intolerant”, citing opposition to same-sex marriage as an example. And yesterday, the BBC reproduced a long series of satirists’ cartoons lampooning the DUP. In response to the whole controversy, Roman Catholic commentator Dr Tim Stanley (who does not support the DUP in general) defended the DUP’s right to hold religious beliefs and argued “it has become politically toxic to be a Christian”. The freedom to advocate traditional marriage in politics is under siege. Marriage supporters must speak out now and hold the BBC to account. Funded by your licence fee, the BBC is acting with massive liberal bias. It is flagrantly breaching its Royal Charter which says the first purpose of the BBC is “to provide impartial news and information” and output “championing freedom of expression””.

The second wasFarron quits as Lib Dem leader over clash between faith and politics. It goes on to say “Tim Farron has said he is to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats, less than a week after the election. In a statement, he said he was “torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader”. He said he should have dealt “more wisely” with questions relating to his faith during the election campaign, including his views on gay sex… But he said he could no longer reconcile his strong Christian faith with his responsibilities as leader of a liberal party. “The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader,” he said. “A better, wiser person may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to remain faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment. “To be a leader, particularly of a progressive liberal party in 2017 and to live as a committed Christian and to hold faithful to the Bible’s teaching has felt impossible for me.” He said he was passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believed differently to him, but said he had been the “subject of suspicion” because of his own beliefs. While questions about his faith were legitimate, he said they “distracted” from the party’s election campaign. During the campaign, he was asked repeatedly in media interviews to clarify his views on gay sex but did not, to begin with, answer directly. He later insisted that he did not believe it was a sin and that, while he believed political leaders should not “pontificate on theological matters”, it was right to address the subject as it had become “an issue””.

Regarding the first story, besides regretting the BBC are not as neutral as they claim, it is regrettable when good people, in this case members of the DUP, are vilified because their “Christian” views are not compatible with those who lay claim to being able to say what views are acceptable and what aren’t. In the second story, much hammered Tim Farron has decided to call it a day and another good man has been sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. All of which I will have to bring to peoples’ attention because we are in danger of further punishing those who speak truth. As for Christians being politically involved, my response is it is something between you and the one you follow – Christ. But if part of our earthly remit is to do good then political involvement can’t be ruled out. But take stock from these stories: besides good people, there are also fools and villains and they will play a significant part in our journey and will do their worst to trip us up and bring us down. It is also worth remembering that while religion may and indeed should inform our politics, the politician’s first duty is to humbly represent his/her constituents, whether they be straight or gay etc. Yet above all: as Christians we are Christ’s representatives here on earth, and we are told to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. And whatever we do, we must maintain our integrity (and sanity).

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