What is the role of the Church in today’s politically-charged society? To many, the Church and politics do not (or should not) mix. After all, Jesus did not use his ministry as a platform to campaign for those desiring positions of authority. Jesus did not give impassioned speeches for or against secular laws or policies.
For all intents and purposes, Jesus provides an example of a life that is entirely devoid of politics – right? I’m not so sure.
It is true that Jesus did not concern himself with partisan politics. But then the society in which Jesus lived was vastly different from our own. And so we cannot use the absence of modern political engagement in the Gospels as an excuse to take the easy way out. Instead, we must consider what Jesus did do, and discern how we might faithfully apply the Gospel lessons to our modern lives.
Jesus was passionate about the marginalized, the poor, and the vulnerable. He did not let anything stand in his way when it came to loving others – not religious leaders, not traditions and norms of the day, not the opinions of those around him. Jesus loved with abandon, and calls us to do the same.
How do we love with abandon in a nation that fails to treat each person as a beloved child of God? I believe that the most faithful response is to speak up, to advocate for compassion, and to work for change. And if the only way to be a voice of love is to speak out against leaders and lawmakers and policies, then so be it.
Should the Church be political simply for the sake of being political? No. But nor should the Church remain silent when all of creation is crying out. Besides, I am fairly certain that remaining silent in this political climate is a political statement in and of itself.
And so I will continue to reject the notion that demeaning, belittling, and assaulting women is acceptable. I will continue to speak out when racial and ethnic minorities are silenced. I will continue to correct those who spread misinformation intended to make us fear “the other.” I will continue to advocate for the refugees, the oppressed, the poor, and the imprisoned. I will continue to oppose those in positions of authority who exploit their power for personal gain.
I will “be political” in public and in private, and in the exercise of my ministry as a religious leader. I will do so not in spite of my faith, but because of it. My faith does not allow me to turn a blind eye to those in need simply because bringing a difficult conversation into my community of faith might make people uncomfortable. How can we lift up our whole hearts to God in worship if we have hardened our hearts against those whom God loves?
The life and ministry of Jesus Christ has called us to love one another. How far are you willing to go?
The Rev. Amy Long is an associate priest at Grace Episcopal Church, Hutchinson.