Anybody but me notice that this is an election year? It's an odd thing. The church—where we're supposed to be fearless, where we're supposed to challenge people on sin and be prophetic and face martyrdom—the church is also the place where we're told, "Don't talk about politics!"
Or at least we're told that in the kind of churches where I grew up. Other traditions are different. The African-American church, for instance, was for decades the one place where politics could be safely talked about, leaving a legacy that is reverberating pretty loudly this year.
Here's the problem: politics is an important sphere of human activity, and as such God is keenly interested in it. It was the Dutch theologian and politician (why don't we have more of those in America?) Abraham Kuyper who famously said, "There is not one inch of creation about which Jesus Christ does not say, 'This is mine!'"
However, as soon as human beings (including church leaders) start assuming they are in a position to pronounce God's political leanings, things get a little dicey.
Sometimes I have erred under the simple category of general stupidity. Years ago a national news story described how an East coast school district decided to distribute free condoms to public education students of an alarmingly young age. I gave a prophetic denunciation of this action in a sermon. I spoke of the problems of moral relativity, the lack of an adequate sexual ethic, of what happens when faith-based understandings of human sexuality are no longer welcome in the public square, and how all of this was resulting in the passing out of condoms in a public school.
I just forgot that it was Awana Sunday.
Suddenly I looked down and saw the open-mouthed stares of more Awana ...