“Some people are relieved. Some people are devastated.” These were my words to one of my classes when we first met following the November 2016 election of Donald Trump as president. The relief stanched any worry over the delay, if not the loss, of the culture wars; the distress exacerbated worries over emboldened hostility to minorities, women, and immigrants.
While the responses are quite opposite, both share a common element: fear. I see this fear as a gateway to considering a Christian basis for political engagement about issues of greatest importance.
Why should Christians care about politics or other public concerns? The answer begins with the beginning, with creation itself. God has given humans the task of caring for his world (some call this the cultural mandate). The blessing/command of Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply…and have dominion…” (ESV) indicates a responsibility for stewarding life in this world. Politics is one way we do this. Politics manages our common life; government exists to uphold justice and facilitate the well-being of citizens.
To take this first commission in Genesis seriously is to care about what happens in the public domain. We concede a constant tension with life in this world as Christians, but unlike the earliest Christians, for whom the Roman Empire restricted genuine political engagement, we live in the United States, a republic where citizens have the opportunity to contribute to the shape and direction of the country. We enjoy the opportunity to participate in the political system from the local to the national level.
To view political engagement as Christian stewardship is to pursue a world where there is flourishing and justice. As a fundamental ...
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