I have never considered myself a very political person. As a proudly evangelical pastor, for a long time I possessed a somewhat bemused and distant attitude towards politics, focusing my attention instead on my calling to teach and preach the Word, which was above all worldly concerns. But that changed a few years ago. After my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, and our insurance company tried to terminate her coverage using the dreaded “pre-existing condition” clause, I became a vocal advocate for health care reform. Shortly after that, as a resident of a city wracked with racial tensions, I timidly called for greater understanding between Korean and African-American communities.
These brief forays into the public sphere have taught me a lot, and have given me a lot more compassion on the plight of pastors. Evangelical pastors are often lambasted for their lack of engagement with society and politics. We accuse evangelical leaders of being too passive and silent on the most pressing issues of the day, and wonder if this is due to a lack of conviction, or a lack of courage. We call them cowards, dinosaurs, unbiblical, irrelevant. And I hate to admit that I have often joined that chorus of criticism. But the truth is not nearly so simple. Although I don't seek to totally exonerate myself from wrongdoing, here are five reasons why I personally hesitate to speak out on controversial issues:
The Separation of Church and State
This might seem like something of a cop-out explanation, but you should remember that one of the foundational principles of American culture and government is the separation between church and state. It's an idea that ...1