Eugene Cho

rules of christian civility in politics?

Politics can get heated and messy.  You don’t just have to watch the various media and news outlets to know this.  You can also sense the tension within the Christian community which I think is perfectly normal and okay – as long as we get off our righteous soapboxes and consider what it means for us to live out our faith and convictions beyond the election season.

Personally, I don’t believe that followers of Jesus should be in bed with either of the two major parties.  We ought to remain “Independent” with a commitment to collaborate, listen, engage, and support the political system all while understanding that the political system is not our ultimate Hope or Answer.  In addition, we must never lose the courage or conviction to speak prophetically to a group of people because we are lured by the power associated with politics or a political party.  It concerns me how  some Christians were so critical of the “Religious Right” and yet, it appears that the “Evangelical Left” seem to be falling into a similar mindset.

While politics will be the rage for the next few months, including this blog occasionally, I want to share these “5 Rules of Christian Civility” that was posted by Jim Wallis on the God’s Politics blog and ask you one simple question:  “What do you think?”

  1. We Christians should be in the pocket of no political party; but should evaluate both candidates and parties by our biblically based moral compass.
  2. We don’t vote on only one issue, but see biblical foundations for our concerns over many issues.
  3. We advocate a consistent ethic of life from womb to tomb, and one that challenges the selective moralities of both the left and the right.
  4. We will respect the integrity of our Christian brothers and sisters in their sincere efforts to apply Christian commitments to the important decisions of this election; knowing that people of faith and conscience will be voting both ways in this election year.
  5. We will not attack our fellow Christians as Democratic or Republican partisans, but rather will expect and respect the practice of putting our faith first in this election year; even if we reach different conclusions.

On November 4, Christians will not be able to vote for the Kingdom of God. It is not on the ballot. Yet, there are very important choices to make which will significantly impact the common good and the health of this nation–and of the world. So we urge our Christian brothers and sisters to exercise their crucial right to vote and to apply their Christian conscience to those decisions. And in the finite and imperfect political decisions of this and any election, we promise to respect the Christian political conscience of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Filed under: politics, religion

27 Responses

  1. Kari Byrd says:

    Excellent post. I completely agree.

  2. Emily says:

    Me, too. I agree. Wonderful.

  3. becky says:

    So we urge our Christian brothers and sisters to exercise their crucial right to vote and to apply their Christian conscience to those decisions.

    especially loved this challenge

  4. Tyler says:

    I’m worried that while this evangelical shift to be more involved and open is a good thing, that we might be too closely aligning ourselves within politics.

  5. elderj says:

    I think Wallis’ list is good and would be more compelling if he wasn’t so obviously (if unintentionally) aligned with the Democratic Party. I believe that the Catholic Church has modeled this much more than Protestants have. Their fundamental ethics do not change and so they are free in ways that Protestants often are not to challenge the political system. Democrats and Republicans alike are bothered by them. I think the reasons are deep seated and historical. The Protestant church has ALWAYS been aligned with power and indeed the reformation happened much more by force than by choice in most places.

  6. Edward says:

    All of them speaks to me. It’s so difficult to hear and read comments like, “No Christian would vote for (insert candidate here)” or “There is no way that a Christian can be Republican or Democrat.”

  7. fan-friggen-tastic. Perfectly said.

    To remain truly independant we christians should be willing to vote third party if and when the leading two candidates have a warped sense of the government’s role, or policies which contradict our beliefs in life and human dignity. Voting for the “lesser of two evils” allows both leading parties to continue producing candidates that are a threat to life, liberty or peace; they need only be slightly better than the other guy. There is nothing noble about playing into that.

    No candidate is perfect, but we should be able to expect that the policies of a president reflect the principles by which our nation was founded and distinguished from so many others.

    -ian

  8. […] a friend who blog about their kids.  I surf around in WordPress for blogs that interest me, but this particular post intrigued me and I wanted to share my thoughts here.  I don’t necessarily agree with […]

  9. canadiancatholicblog says:

    I agree with most of the comments already posted. Thank you for a reflective and well-written article. Catholic social teaching is similarly comprehensive of many issues.

    Warren

  10. It may be a higher bar than Jim Wallis was trying to set but I’d add that politically minded Christians must: identify which groups and ideas cause them to feel threatened and deliberately practice gracious patience with them.

    I think it’s not our disagreement with somebody that makes us uncivil but our fear that they will have power over us.

  11. jonswales says:

    interesting. In the UK we don’t have the same problem as some on the US of seeing one party as being the ‘Christian’ or Kingdom of God’ party. http://www.ordinand.wordpress.com

  12. I don’t think that either candidate or party represents the teachings of Jesus Christ in full, and so I’m resistant to the use of the term “values voter.” I think that anytime we announce to the world that we are supporting a candidate based on our Christian values, we belittle the truly radical teachings of our Lord, which could never be contained within a party or platform. It’s not up to Barack Obama or John McCain to represent my values. It’s up to me, as a follower of Christ.

    Sometimes I get a little depressed about this, because I feel so alienated from the evangelical community during election years. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has charged, “How can you call yourself a Christian?” when they find out I plan to vote for Obama. I guess I never thought my faith was at stake.

    Overall, I really liked the five points. Thanks for bringing them to our attention! May God preserve us and give us patience through the next two months!!!🙂

  13. ken says:

    …you make a great observation here Eugene—“I don’t believe that followers of Jesus should be in bed with either of the two major parties”. While I think we need to vote and some of us even may be called to enter the political arena, being tied at teh hip with any polital party or movement isn’t our calling.

    Greg Boyd has a recent post that would be of interest to you I am sure.

    http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/the-audacity-of-hope-a-foreigners-reflection-on-obamas-speech/

    Thanks.

  14. Tom says:

    American evangelicals are in bed with the Republicans and conservatives and enjoying the late night jollies and afternoon delight of money and power.

    If the progressives politically become all that, we should avoid getting as naked and willing as we did over the last 30 years and regain some personal integrity.

    My crude summary of your clearly pastoral post :^)

    But from a prophetic and not a pastoral standpoint, I think the real issue right now is that evangelicals are lost in right wing politics and conservative culture in a way that we weren’t 30 years ago and in a way that doesn’t honor the full teaching of God. I know that’s not true of the folks that read your blog, so I’m probably preaching to the choir.

    I don’t think it serves–from a prophetic standpoint–to try to do the normal Christian progressive thing where we spend a lot of time warning people about the dangers of all forms of idolatry without identifying and straightforwardly opposing the actual and current idolatry that’s doing major damage to the American church.

    elderj’s take, in my mind, was pretty spot on except for his first sentence.

    I think Jim Wallis is playing it sharp and close to just right. Seems like the times require warning against all political idolatry,–which he does–but especially warning against the actual political idolatry that’s infected and severely damaged the evangelical church–which he also does.

    Maybe that makes him too closely aligned with the democrats for some. Not for me.

  15. Joel says:

    For more on this topic I recommend to Pastor Eugene and fellow blog-readers “The Case for Civility” by great Christian writer/thinker Os Guinness.

    Good stuff…

  16. gar says:

    Great principles to guide any discussion, though on the internet, they aren’t applied as much as I would like.

    The power of anonymity tends to bring out the flame war potential in everybody, especially in regards to religion + politics.

  17. […] speeches and other non-linear stuff from the DNC and RNC.  As usual, remember to respectfully share your thoughts, opinions, and […]

  18. torduange says:

    I am super glad to hear that Christians should remain independents. I am showing up to post just to express that. It really really really bothers me as someone who’s more ‘evangelical’ in outlook how that segment of Christians has aligned itself with one political party, and failed to confront its racism and classism and sexism.

    But that’s a digression. Kudos for just advocating independence from the two-party system.

  19. […] manners (although heaven only knows we as a society could use a few more of those). This is about rules of engagement for those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers, and how we conduct ourselves in the middle of […]

  20. Sallie says:

    I wrote a similiar post on my blog and published it today.. as christians we have to remember it is ok to stand for our convictions but when we start passing “what if” kind of judgements, then that is not acceptable.

    God bless,
    Sallie

  21. Dear Eugene……What do I personally think in regards to “Rules to the Chrisitan Civility …and their purpose…..” #5 offers that of distinct character…and enlightment.. Leaders succumning to embracing differnces of opinions is actually offering a high-light of uniqueness-tht eventually will bring a fellowship into order; if not, allows a humbleness and a true witness before God…It makes great mention that “The Body” is made up of many parts…..therfore…….embrace it. It is of great importance before God tha we allow our fellow brothers to walk “right where .. with thier individual understandings” — having a full Faith in God–For HIS Discernments to bring forth His Holy Spirit for any questions pondered….It does NOT take a master mind to figure this process–its rather God watching for certin humbling behaviors too unfold before His presence….a NO Brainer again. Unless you live in afalse Pharisiess world–doomed from the begining-a festered cancer if personal power not withdrawn. Its a choice a great Pastor would make mention….or a ….. lingering to destroy. A Choice.

  22. […] Quest has a long way to go but one of the things that I appreciate the most about our church is its diversity – including folks with varying opinions on politics.  Certainly makes for an interesting conversation – provided we abide with civility.  […]

  23. […] There were some interesting comments in response to yesterday’s post about reasons why I liked Sarah Palin…but not that way.  But come Novemer 5, can fellow Christians from different political views – particularly in the same church – respect one another and be in genuine fellowship?  I hope so.  Remember the rules of civility. […]

  24. Minnie says:

    I agree with the above Five Rules of Christian Civility and want to add Christ’s own words:

    “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:37-38

    I think we can safely assume that we can’t love anyone OR anything (political party included) MORE than Jesus or He views us as ‘not worthy of’ HIM! The above scripture says a LOT to me…

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
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Forget my street cred.
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She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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