House of Commons

C.S. Lewis on Christianity and Politics

After so much thought about how a Christian ought best to engage with politics, the most helpful comment I have found on the subject is this paragraph from the unanswerable Mr. Lewis:

This raises the question of Theology and Politics.  The nearest I can get to a settlement of the frontier problem between them is this: that Theology teaches us what ends are desirable and what means are lawful, while Politics teaches what means are effective.  Thus Theology tells us that every man ought to have a decent wage.  Politics tells by what means this is likely to be attained.  Theology tells us which of these means are consistent with justice and charity.  On the political question guidance comes not from Revelation but from natural prudence, knowledge of complicated facts and ripe experience.  If we have these qualifications we may, of course, state our political opinions: but then we must make it quite clear that we are giving our personal judgement and have no command from the Lord.  Not many priests have these qualifications.  Most political sermons teach the congregation nothing except what newspapers are taken at the Rectory.

C.S. Lewis, Christian Apologetics, 1945

Are you a politician?  Rejoice that God has given you both goals and guidelines, but has also given you the freedom to put creative energy into the formation of effective policy.  Are you a theologian?  Don’t presume that your conscience is so tender, and your heart so steeped in scripture, that any opinion which seems to you to be common sense must be the only one within the boundaries of godliness.  For to truly shepherd one’s flock in grace is to preach God’s word as far as it goes, and not one millimetre further.

A child turning on the stove

I love you, that’s why I’m voting “No”

Australia is about to vote on whether or not same-sex marriage should be legalised. What has been very strange for me is to see so many Bible-believing Christians who are seriously considering voting “Yes”.  So I want to leave aside all the tangential, political issues for a moment, and look at the biblical case that homosexuality itself is simply a bad idea.

Romans 1:26-27 says the following:

For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

According to this passage, a homosexual lifestyle is something that God gives people over to, as a consequence of our continued rebellion.  Theologically, it is part of the “passive wrath” of God.  It is a natural consequence of our continued sexual rebellion, which God allows us to experience so that we will see that sin leads to death.

How then could I, as a Christian, encourage same-sex marriage?  How could I not try and discourage people from something that I consider part of God’s wrath?  If I love them, I will hope that they could be spared from that suffering.  So out of love, I will be voting “No”.

There are many people, very dear to me, who are same-sex attracted.  I will still love them, I will still care about them and I hope I can still have a good relationship with them.  But I cannot, in good conscience, encourage them towards a lifestyle that I think is deeply harmful to them.  I love them far too much for that.

The Impotence of Secular Christendom

Perhaps the most immoral of all is the injunction to love your enemies.  That I will not do.  I know who my enemies are.  At the moment, the most deadly ones are Islamist theocrats with a homicidal and genocidal agenda.  I’m not going to love them, you go love them if you want.  Don’t love them on my behalf, I’ll get on with killing them, destroying them, erasing them and you can love them.  But the idea that you ought to love them is not a moral idea at all, it’s a wicked idea, and I hope it doesn’t take hold… What a disgusting order, to love those people!  Destroy them.

– Christopher Hitchens

This is where the difference between Christianity and mere Secular Christendom shines forth.  The Christian says wholeheartedly “we MUST love our enemies!  The Lord Jesus loved us when we were his enemies, and he commands us to do likewise!”  The secularist who has merely inherited the culture of Christian values finds this infuriating and intolerable.

As Islam becomes a primary issue in elections around the world, we need to be reminded that secularism is impotent to address the problem of evil.  Both the atheist-left and the atheist-right can offer no solution.  A secular society that has inherited Christian values will be much better off than a society without them.  But it is not sustainable.  When attacked by true evil, the impulse of Secular Christendom is simply to return fire.  Only true Christianity gives a basis for facing the evil in the world, addressing it with wisdom and force if necessary, and yet remaining determined to love the people who are doing that evil.

Our society does not primarily need more “freedom” (the right) or more “equality” (the left).  It needs more of Christ.