Politics: To Care or Not to Care

blue and red light on mans face
Politics can’t save us. But that doesn’t mean we get a free pass to be uninvolved citizens.

I’m a little tired of all the Facebook posts dealing with the election that I see on a daily (hourly?) basis. Is anyone else with me on this? I know the election is important, and I’m glad to see people have views on this topic, but sometimes I feel like I’ve hit my saturation point with political posts.

So what’s the answer to this feeling of exhaustion? Do we crawl in a hole and pretend that there isn’t an election happening in November? Do we find ourselves in a more “enlightened” Christianity that says authentic Christianity equals a disinterest in politics?

I think that my friend Ivette answers the question of why many Christians feel disinterested in the political process in a helpful way:

I understand. The history of Christian political action is a mixed legacy, especially in recent years. Our nation tires from deferred hope and stump speeches that spin realities. Government is slow and inadequate to fully solve the multi-dimensional crises we are facing and, yes, politics can sound like a heap of confusing jargon that makes Honey-Boo-Boo a more welcome distraction.

I also respect Christians who are honestly politically neutral, yet faithfully serve their communities and share the hope of the Gospel where they are called. I know not everyone is called to politics and yet, I’m still disappointed at the trendy disregard for civic engagement.

As Christians, I believe we need to go beyond frustration, disappointment and disillusionment.  The reality is that, as Christians, we shouldn’t expect life to be a cakewalk. We know the reality of living in a sinful, fallen world: It means there will be parts of life that are messy. There will be gray areas and situations that are less than ideal.

So why do we assume that the world of cultural and political engagement — whether that’s being informed about what issues are swirling in the world of politics or simply choosing which candidates to vote for on Election Day — should be easy and that there should be politicians that perfectly align with our every viewpoint? We don’t give up on the rest of life because it’s hard; we don’t give up on friendships because we might have a differing opinion on some issues. So why do we turn our backs on being informed and engaged in the political process when it falls in line with every other area of life, messy and imperfect?

That leads me to the question: How should we live as Christians who are politically and culturally engaged? The reality that so many of us know — and often overemphasize — is that politics can’t save us. But that doesn’t mean we get a free pass to be uninvolved citizens of this world, while we wait for the world to come. The answer to political apathy should be the realization that there are issues that we care enough about — that are close to God’s heart — that motivate us to get involved.

So what matters to you? What issues do you care deeply enough about that you’re willing to get your hands dirty in the world of culture and politics? For me, there are a handful of issues — fiscal, economic and social — that form the basis of what is important to me. When I look at these issues, they speak to the worldview I have, which in turn informs how I vote. So while I use these issues as a grid through which I view my cultural involvement, they also give me very specific guidelines for how I vote — everything from a vote for a city council member to the President of the United States. These are values and issues that I hold dear, so they involve every aspect of my cultural-political involvement.

Before you throw in the towel with the political process because it’s not easy, remember that most things in life that are worth preserving (say, freedom) also aren’t easy. What are the issues that you care enough about that you’re willing to get involved?

Copyright 2012 Dawn McBane. All rights reserved.

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