Last week (June 7) I noted that some gains have been made by the pro-life movement after all. But how should Christians view these advances? Does it suggest that the “welcome mat” is out and the door is wide open to push for further pro-life legislation? I don’t think so. Although there have been some setbacks to the pro-choice movement, Christians shouldn’t expect pro-choicers to admit defeat. In other words, we may be free to knock on the door, but don’t anticipate opponents to invite us in for tea and cookies.
Regardless of the response, I would like to offer the following thoughts about Christian engagement in the public square. I define the public square as that realm where citizens from a plurality of perspectives convene to deliberate on matters (e.g., laws, policies) that concern national and local community life. Like the apostle Paul, Christians can use the “marketplace” when possible to present truth (e.g., Acts 17, Paul in Athens). But wasn’t Paul primarily concerned with preaching the gospel? This is true, but my point is that Paul had an important message and he worked within the “system” to communicate that message. So the question is, “What can be done to promote life human dignity within the current system?” Although there is disagreement about strategies and the extent of engagement, Scripture clearly teaches or implies the following:
1) Scripture neither encourages nor forbids participation in the political arena. Thus, a Christian is free to follow his or her calling if that calling includes active involvement in political matters.
2) Christians have a duty to be good citizens which includes submitting to governing authorities.
3) Christians have moral obligations that do not apply to the general public (e.g., observance of the sacraments, prayer, church discipline, etc.).
I realize that I could be accused of an argument from silence, but whereas Scripture gives guidelines on church government, it says very little about political involvement. However, Scripture does not even remotely suggest:
*that Christians should impose onto the world the teachings of Scripture
*that Christians should have decision-making priority or the last word in the public arena
*that only Christians should be in positions of political or legal authority
*that Christians should attempt to establish a political theocracy