A Christian friend of mine recently posted a Linkedin article by Julian McCall to Facebook. The article purports to be sharing a letter by Marshall Kamena, the Mayor of Livermore, California. My friend’s comment on the post was ambiguous; it wasn’t possible to determine whether or not he shared the author’s perspective. As I read the article, I was deeply concerned for several reasons. First, the original author attribution of the article is incorrect. It was not written by Marshall Kamena, but Evan Sayet. This fact is pointed out at snopes.com and verified on the townhall.com website.
Second, what is most important and disturbing, however, is the ethical stance this article advocates. What is even more disturbing is that there is a Christian who would approve of the ethical stance advocated in the article. As I said, my friend’s post comment is ambiguous and could be a brilliant strategy for baiting people to make a point that the ethical position of the article is most unChristlike. I hope that he clarifies his position in a later Facebook comment on the post. What follows is my response to the article. (Please read that article before reading my reply by following the first link above.)
The goal of life is to do what Jesus did for the same reasons that Jesus did it. That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Practically, this means that as we mature as disciples of Christ we will reflect the character of Christ with more and more consistency. This character is to be demonstrated at all times in every area of our lives, including our political views and behavior. In theological terms, this process of becoming conformed to the character of Christ is called sanctification.
Sayet’s article argues that political conservatives (Republicans) are no longer in a context in which dignity, collegiality, and propriety are justifiable. The author argues that political conservatives have tried and failed at this approach. Therefore, the author opines that we should abandon this tactic in favor of an Alinskian/Machiavellian approach to politics. The author praises Trump for “fighting” using the same tactics that he claims the political Left (Democrats) have used for the past 60 years.
For the politically conservative (or liberal, for that matter) Christian who takes his or her faith in Christ seriously, who has any understanding of what it means to be a Christian, this stance is seriously problematic. As we are increasingly conformed to the character of Christ, that is, as we are transformed (Romans 12:2) at the core of our being (sanctified), it becomes impossible, or at least increasingly unlikely, for us to suspend or compartmentalize our Christlike character. Christ becomes so much a part of who we are that we find it impossible to act contrary to who Jesus is and to the “new self” that the Apostle Paul describes in Colossians 3:5-14. This applies to our politics and to every conceivable area of our lives. Paul tells us that we are to “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12).” As believers in (disciples of, followers of) Jesus, we choose to act compassionately at all times and in all circumstances until we are so transformed by the Spirit of God that lives in us that we no longer have to choose to be compassionate; eventually, compassion flows out of us naturally, at all times and in all circumstances, political or otherwise, as a result of the transformative process of sanctification. Disciples of Jesus choose to act with kindness in all circumstances until the Spirit of God sanctifies us so that kindness is such a part of our character that we no longer have to choose kindness; we act with kindness because we are kind like Christ is kind. This process is true for all the other virtues exhibited by Christ, as well. The ultimate virtue of transformative sanctification is love (Colossians 3:14). Love and politics frequently do not mix. But for the Christian, there is no other option than to love, with all of its deriviative virtues.
We are to emmulate Christ until we are sanctified including the political positions we adopt and the political behavior in which we engage, no matter where we fall on the political spectrum as Christians. We are imitate, to the best of our ability in the power of the Holy Spirit, the character of Christ. If we are doing this as believers, we cannot possibly adopt the course advocated by Sayet in his article. Sayet’s article advocates a position that is unChristlike, unethical, and void of integrity. Political pragmatism that violates the ethics of Christ is untenable for anyone claiming to follow Christ. Even if those who are politically conservative believe that the politically liberal are engaging in this kind of behavior (or vice versa), it does not justify following the path Sayet suggests (Matthew 7:12). Doing so contradicts our call to Christlikeness (Ephesians 5:1) and Christ’s call to love (Matthew 5:43-48; Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31).
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