On the whole we’ve been fortunate in the West in having States which have tended to look upon the Christian faith with favour. This is not because those who led those States were Christians (although until recently most were), but because they’ve found the faith useful. Constantine set the example, others followed. Those, such as my own ancestors, who rejected the Church favoured by the State found out the hard way what the Church was for in the eyes of the State. There’s no doubt a lesson in the fact that a country such as the USA, with no Established Church, is more Christian than one like the UK which does; put not your trust in princes.
There’s a price to be paid for this. When folk go on about same-sex marriage, for example, as though the State were under some obligation to abide by Christian teaching, the reality of the situation is revealed. The State is under no obligation even to tolerate our views.If we are not tolerant of the views of others, some might ask why the State should tolerate us. My own line is simple. The State will do as it wants provided it has support from the legislature. It is our democratic right to protest and to put forward our views, but if we throw hissy-fits because the State is not on our side, we should grow up. God’s Kingdom is not of this world. This world hated Jesus and if we’re faithful, it hates us.
In the last UK General Election, both the C of E and the RCC gave the impression that unless one voted for a left-wing party, one lacked compassion and care for the poor. I daresay they’d deny it, but that was what most folk took away from it. I suppose Bishops are cut from the same cloth as left-wing politicians and can’t see the bias in our media and culture, bit they ought not to suppose others share that myopia.
Jesus was not a revolutionary zealot calling for the overthrow of the Roman Empire and national self-determination for Judea with human rights for all and a national minimum wage with good health care benefits. He was the Son of God calling for a radical change in our hearts and minds. He called us from the selfishness of our fallen nature to the generosity of recognising all are children of God. No one political system can say it is Christian – though it would be good for us all if some tried harder.
For an Evangelical Christian such as myself for whom matters such as abortion and the sanctity of marriage and family life loom large, it was hard to find anyone for whom one could vote in good conscience. I did my best and voted, because I think I ought to – my ancestors fought for that right. But I’m under no illusion that this, or any other political party, represents Christ. We shouldn’t be hasty in presuming those who don’t share our political preference lack a heart. We should ensure that as followers of Christ, we provide an example of how Christians live in this world.