What Politics Can Teach the Church

As Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville move toward redefining marriage in regard to personnel policies for their employees, I couldn’t help but think about my worst experience in 19 years of politics. And the Church could take a lesson from it. (Read more)

My mistake was saying something in anger about the way some money was being thrown around, in my opinion, to curry favor with voters.  I asked a rhetorical question to the effect that the legislation was so poorly worded that the money would wind up going to pay for “coke” and for keg parties.

Two days later, I was in the first Senate committee meeting of the day.  The caucus press secretary came into the committee room and told me not to leave the room for any reason. Apparently the press was lined up in the hall ready to jump all over me. This was the first I’d heard of anyone trying to put an evil spin on what I had said.

Then he handed me a draft statement I could read, responding to my political accusers. He told me to do whatever I wanted, but be ready to “face the press” when I walked out of the room.

It was just a taste of what has become a necessity in politics – the ability to be ready to respond to anything an opponent might say or do in a matter of hours, not days.

So what’s the lesson for the Church? It needs to be prepared to respond quickly to public policy issues that strike at the very heart of something so fundamental to very meaning of the Church as marriage and life.

The Church is prepared for some things.  It quickly has meals and clothes ready when natural disasters strike.  Hospital visitation teams and prayer chains are on-call when sickness or death occurs.  And an individual church can quickly open its doors to those who want to pray when catastrophes like 9-11 happens.

That is all good and should be done. But what about being ready to speak to elected officials when bad public policy is proposed that would deface and mar the very meaning of the institution God established to reflect his Triune nature and the relationship of Jesus to his Church?

When it comes to state or local issues, the answer is zip.  Nada.  Nothing.

That doesn’t mean that there are not groups of ministers who meet together at some regular intervals to pray with and for each other and share fellowship. That is great.  But do they ever come together to take on something like what we’re seeing happen now?

Not to my knowledge.  Not a single pastor of a local church in any of those three cities has contacted me about what could be done. Nor have I seen or heard of any group of pastors coming together to speak to our elected officials about same-sex marriage nor issue a united statement of any kind.

No doubt some pastors don’t even know about the issue, which, in itself, is a problem.  Unlike the other things churches are ready to respond to, the vast majority of pastors have no mechanism in place to make sure they are informed about these things.

I am very thankful for the handful of minsters that I have contacted who have said let’s get together to figure out what to do.  But the vast majority I have contact so far are silent. Dead silent.

Martin Luther King saw an injustice – men being judged not by the content of their character, but by the color of their skin. He acted.  And he got others to act.  He went to jail over it.

Here is what Dr. King said in 1963 in “Strength to Love”:

“If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”

That prophetic zeal was evidenced by Biblical men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Nathan and a host of others who went before Kings to tell the truth about what they were doing before God. They believed that God would judge their nation and would judge them if they said nothing.

I don’t like saying this. It won’t make me many friends, but I feel compelled:  Where are those men in our day?