The Silent Church and Political Correctness
by Providence Crowder
I admit I am no fan of the current U.S. President or his administration. Personally I feel that the path that the Democrat Party and modern liberals are taking this nation on is a disastrous one. But, putting my personal political preferences aside, I recognize that as a Christian, our political systems and governments are severely flawed and dominated by sinful people with selfish motives. Christians are waged in spiritual warfare with the powers of darkness—and the sources of our national woes go beyond what any Democrat, Republican, Constitutionalist, or Libertarian can remedy.
We live in a world filled with crime and violence wrought by men and women consumed with hate and motivated by selfish pride. With brother wronging brother, neighbor offending neighbor, and nation pitted against nation, it seems, as philosopher Edmund Burke has suggested, that evil has prevailed while good men sat idly by and did nothing—and the little that was done was like trying to put out a forest fire with a glass of water.
With human trafficking, abortion, divorce, homelessness, poverty, fatherlessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and age, sex, and racial discriminations among the many social ills running rampant all over this nation and the world, one may reasonably ask—Where is God in all of this? Or better yet, where are God’s people, the ones that he has chosen in the world, in all of this?
The people of God? We are here. Some of us you may not recognize, but if you look closely, you will see us on Sunday mornings climbing into our cars and heading to church. And, if you visit our church, you will see us singing praises to God from wooden pews, and waving our hands in the air, and you may even see tears streaming from our eyes. You will see us at the church picnic, the church concert, the church “revival,” the church car wash, the church bake sale, the church fashion show, Bible study, the pastor’s anniversary service, or any number of other church functions.
Don’t look for us in the streets, don’t look for us in the hospitals, or the prisons, or anywhere people are broken. We are busy tending to our church services. BUT, if you come to our church, you will be blessed! Don’t look for us to help the poor—that’s why some of us pay taxes, so that the government can do it. They will be fair, I trust my politicians.
Many of us stand with President Obama, and even praise his homosexual agenda in the public sphere and in our pulpits as being inclusive and just, but don’t look for us to stand up to our government bureaucrats and demand justice for unborn children who are being legally slaughtered by the thousands daily—abortion is a political issue that’s divisive. Most of us—aside from the extremists—are politically correct.
Sure, we will evangelize to the lost—the drug dealers, thieves, murderers, and prostitutes . . . IF they come to our church and hear our pastors preach. His words will surely prick their hearts. Don’t fret if you are unable to make it to our church service, we will add you to our prayer list and ask God to heal and deliver you.
Don’t expect us to openly condemn fornication, adultery, or homosexuality. We may casually mention it in a sermon or two, but the truth of the matter is, we are living in the 21st century and have realized our error in taking the Scriptures literally. We now understand that God accepts us all just as we are and we should not judge such matters—at least that’s what we say in the public sphere. But in reality, many of us know and believe what God says, but we struggle with the same sins secretly. We don’t want to live right—it’s too hard. Nor do we want to condemn such things too loud or too often because everybody is doing it! People don’t like to be judged. They don’t want to be told they are sinners. People may be offended and call us judgmental. If the government finds out, we are sure lose our tax exempt status.
So we can’t, God understands. If we were to condemn the actions of fornicators, adulterers, and homosexuals, people will tune out and stop coming to church. We won’t be able to fill our church pews and we would have no one to pay tithes and offering! Who would pay to keep the lights on in our impressive edifices?
Ok, I hope you get my point. “If the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the godless and wicked?” (I Peter 4:18). We as people of God have many shortcomings. We are imperfect beings commissioned to deliver a perfect message to the world—Jesus saves! But we fail in our mission when we are consumed with our own needs, wants, and sinful lusts. We fail when we are unconcerned with the needs of our fellow man.
With all the misery and human suffering, our indifference—our apathy—is literally killing people! The Word of God commands us: “Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:9). Yet, we have been silent when we should have been vocal, and have spoken when we should have remained silent. Many of us have believed the hype from the secular world that we should be silent on social and even political issues because faith, the world says, is a personal matter and those in the Church should keep their opinions and beliefs to themselves. The enemies of the gospel would have Christians hide their light under a bushel, but the Bible teaches no such thing. The Bible teaches, “Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16).
We as Christians do great damage to our witness when we are indifferent concerning human suffering, or silent in the face of evil. German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer boldly proclaimed, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Even philosophers such as John Stuart Mill recognized the mandate for action in the face of evil. He is quoted as saying, “A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.”
Finally, pastor and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., during the reigns of racial segregation and legalized discrimination in America, was forced to contend with spirited enemies on one front and an apathetic and sleeping Church on another. He used political pressure as one means to bring an end to unjust laws that denied human dignity to his fellow man.
Dr. King defined just and unjust laws as follows: “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law … Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”
Dr. King had much to say concerning the Church and its moral failures. In 1965 during a speech, Dr. King is quoted as telling his Georgian audience:
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the vitriolic words and other violent actions of the bad people but the appalling silence and indifference of the good people. Our generation will have to repent not only the words and acts of the children of darkness but also for the fears and apathy of the children of light.”
King was moved to remind us all that, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Just as Dr. King used politics as a tool to rebuke the unjust laws of his time, we can also, as long as we do not err by confining God to a political ideology. We all have personal preferences concerning politics, but we cannot confuse our personal political preferences with godly directives. For example, if our preferences lead us to vote for one political party over another, that is fine and well. As citizens of this nation, we are afforded a voice in governing. But as Christians, our political ideology or inclinations should be aligned with God where God Law and man’s laws are in conflict.
Where human laws and institutions infringe upon God’s supreme Law, Christians must decide who their allegiance is to—man or God?
As a Christian, I also understand that worldly governments (the systems by which a nations, states, or communities are governed) are godless entities without souls and without consciences. They are comprised of men, but were established by God to promote good and punish evil (Romans 13:1-7)—but how can sinful men promote good if they do not know what good is? How can our governments be just if the love for God and fellow man is not in the hearts of those who govern? The Bible teaches that “Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). These things are in the heart of every sinful man, rich and poor alike. That is why it is imperative for Christians to be vocal in promoting what is good and shunning what is evil. Dr. King argues that “the Church is not the master or servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”
Although laws do not change a man’s heart, laws are necessary to establish order and promote justice. As Dr. King has pointed out, “the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s important.” This is why a prudent involvement in public affairs has been essential to Christians past and present. Government sanctioned lynching of innocent men, women, and children was a pretty strong motive for the people of God to stand up in the face of evil and declare to the Pharaohs of recent times to leave the people be and do them no further harm!
When man’s laws are oppressive or unjust, it essential that men of good conscience do all they can to promote justice here and now—and declare what is good and denounce what is evil. As Dr. King has emphasized, when laws fail in this purpose, “they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”
People cannot see God in us, nor will they receive our message of hope, healing, and salvation through Jesus Christ, if we are indifferent to their suffering. God is concerned with justice.