I want to talk a little bit about religion today. I think I've been pretty clear on this blog that I'm a Christian, specifically attending the Lutheran Church. Not all of my friends--either here on the internet or in real life--share my beliefs, and that's totally okay. I daily try to walk the line between being transparent about my own beliefs and how they tie into the way that I live my life, without being condescending or judgmental towards others who believe differently. As a Christian, I don't believe that it's my duty to "save" others who believe differently than I do, but rather to carry myself in a way that demonstrates Christ's love as I know it, to the best of my imperfect ability. I am certain that sometimes I fail at this, but I try daily.
I don't know if anyone else has experienced this, but I often feel frustrated within my faith in that there seems to increasingly be an expectation that all Christians share (or should share) a particular political worldview. And the fact of the matter is that I don't necessarily believe that there is a relationship between religion and politics. In fact, I'm not even sure that I believe that religion has a place in politics, except within the personal lives of those involved.
For example, I have often heard the war in the Middle East be justified through Bible scripture, and it always makes me pause. For a long time, I felt like I was one of very few Christians who took issue with this line of thinking. It was a hard place to be for me, especially since any time I vocalized this opinion, I felt like others believed that I was disrespecting the men and women who serve in our military. I have always felt like respecting those who serve, and taking issue with the way that the Bible is being used to justify the war are two separate issues. However, it's been my experience though that for many in my faith, they are completely entwined. Sometimes, I felt like I was one of the only ones who felt differently. However, I recently read a passage from a book by Rob Bell, and I wanted to share an excerpt, because he summed things up better than I ever could:
"The Roman Empire, which put Jesus on an execution stake, insisted that it was bringing peace to the world through its massive military mights, and anybody who didn't see it this way just might be put on a cross. Emperor Caesar, who ruled the Roman Empire, was considered the 'Son of God,' the 'Prince of Peace,' and one of his propaganda slogans was 'peace through victory.'
The insistence of the first Christians was that through this resurrected Jesus Christ, God has made peace with the world. Not through weapons of war, but through a naked, bleeding man hanging dead on an execution stake. A Roman execution stake. Another of Caesar's favorite propaganda slogans was 'Caesar is Lord.' The first Christians often said 'Jesus is Lord.' For them, Jesus was another way, a better way, a way that made the world better through sacrificial love, not coercive violence.
So when the commander in chief of the most powerful armed forced humanity has ever seen quotes the prophet Isaiah from the Bible in celebration of military victory, we must ask, Is this what Isaiah had in mind?
A Christian should get very nervous when the flag and the Bible start holding hands. This is not a romance we want to encourage."
-From Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto For the Church in Exile, page 18.
This passage was like a light bulb for me. It put into words so many things that I have been feeling about my faith and recent political events. For me, the last two sentences rang especially true, and have encouraged me tremendously.
But I'm interested to hear from you--if you're a Christian, do you feel like you're "supposed to" subscribe to a particular set of political beliefs? Regardless of your religious beliefs, what role, if any, do you think religion should carry in terms of Government? What are your thoughts, in general?
PS- It's 100% okay if you express opinions that differ from mine in the comments. I will not delete ANY comment for that reason. However, I WILL delete comments that are blatantly disrespectful towards the beliefs of others, so play nice.