Twitter is the best place for crowd-sourcing opinion on political matters. So thanks to Jamie Reed MP for putting it out there with this relevant question. Certainly, ‘Christian’ opinion has been in the news with increasing regularity over the past decade from a very low base – you could be forgiven for thinking that we folded as a company after the Keep Sunday Special Campaign. The key question of analysis then is this: What has changed to precipitate this? Firstly, I think the church has woken up to the fact that its influence has waned. More positively, the evangelical church has recognised that the creation mandate demands a greater stake in society – a narrow mission of words-only evangelism is a limited message to a hurting world. So the Christian involvement in the campaign against human trafficking (including legislative meat to enforce prosecution and care for victims) has been huge. Secondly, culture is moving at speed to challenge the assumptions and foundations of the past. What might have been seen as ‘sacred cows’ like the traditional formulation of a marriage relationship are suddenly up for grabs. This has led to a wide gap where a kind of ‘sacred/secular divide’ in understanding leads to all kinds of mistrust and talking past one another. And Christians have been guilty of purely defensive thinking, defending territory and not arguing positively for alternatives (granted the media aren’t so keen on positive stories). Thirdly, politicians do not declare their hands openly, especially on social issues. Perhaps this is because they cannot foresee the rate of change or maybe it’s because such scrutiny at election time is uncomfortable. Either way, it results in a sense of a democratic deficit. Which leads me to my final plea to fellow Christians: We are Christ’s ambassadors. Deal with it. I often tell the story of when I first met my MP. At the end of our first constituency meeting he said this: ‘Some of the nastiest, most aggressive letters I receive are from my Christian constituents’.
Where is our value of respect for human dignity in all this? We should be those who thank, those who encourage, those who pray and those who challenge recognising we have a human being in front of us. Yes, we sometimes have our backs against the wall, yes we are passionate about issues. But if we win the battle through dubious tactics we will lose the war because we deny the gospel a hearing. And deservedly so.