I recall reading Doug Giles before, and I can honestly say that we are kindred spirits. He addresses this issue superbly, and I would only add a #11 to his list which I posted after the column below.
10 Reasons Why Pastors Avoid the Culture War.
By Doug Giles
As far as I’m concerned, a silent or waffling pastor in today’s paranormal climate is about as necessary as Rosie O’Donnell is to CPAC. I don’t care how much the minister likes kitty cats, candy canes and if he cries at Celine Dion concerts. Look, voiceless vicar, if you’re not currently in the big middle of this crucial cultural squabble, pointing out what’s putrid and cheering on what’s proper, then you’re Dr. Evil in my book.
Given that this is an upcoming election year and that the culture-dividing issues are more obvious than Joan River’s last lip implants, it is mind-boggling to me that many ministers are mute or side with parties, policies and principles that are antithetical to the Christian worldview. I don’t know if you got this memo in seminary or not but pastors are supposed to not only salvage souls but also build the good society.
In some kind of ascending order, it seems to me there are 10 reasons why pastors and priests avoid political and intense cultural issues and thus aid and abet evil.
1. Fear of man. If you purport to be a man of God, then your regard for God and His opinion must trump the trepidation of the creature God created from spit and mud. Come on, man of God, don’t fear the crowd … we’re ants with cell phones that’ll shoot Botox into our foreheads. We’re weird and fickle weather vanes of what’s en vogue. You’ve got lead us. Therefore, go to the mountain … get a fresh dose holy terror and move into the Moses mode and command us to be and do what is holy, just and good. The grinning mild subtle Oprah approach doesn’t seem to be stemming the current flood of filth.
2. Ignorance. Most people are not bold in areas where they are ignorant . . . always excepting Britney Spears, of course. I know keeping up with all the pressing political issues is maddening, but that’s life, brother; and if you want to be a voice in society and not just an echo, you have got to be in the know. Staying briefed, running each political issue through the gauntlet of Scripture and determining God’s mind on a certain subject are par for the course for the hardy world changer.
3. Division. Y’know, I hate the current non-essential divisions in the church as much as the next acerbic Christian columnist. Squabbling over the color of the carpet, who’ll play the organ next Sunday or who is the Beast of Revelation, is stupidity squared. Hey, divisive Christian rebel without a clue-get a life, por favor! Or become a Satanist and go screw up their church. Do something other than make mountains out of your little molehill. That being said, there’s a time and place for a biblical throw-down and an ecclesiastical split from political policies and parties.
For a minister to seek unity with secularists when they are trashing and rewriting scripture with impunity is to side with vice and to allow darkness to succeed. On these kinds of issues, the minister cannot group hug or sing a James Blunt song to the secularist or the apostate Christian.
4. Last Days Madness. Many ministers do not get involved in political issues because they believe that “it simply doesn’t matter” since “the end has come,” and Jehovah is about to run the credits on this failed earth flick. These defeatists believe that any change in the jet stream, war, earthquakes, a warming globe, the success of a corrupt politician-even a new Shakira video-are “proof” that God is getting really, really ticked off, and that His only recourse is to have Christ physically return and kick some major butt.
They see the church and themselves as impotent and having no real ability to change things culturally with any long range ramifications. Thus, any stab at a better tomorrow is simply an exercise in futility for this rapture crew. Attempting to right culture is, in their eyes, equivalent to polishing brass on a sinking ship; therefore, they are content to simply pass out tracts, tramp from Christian rock concert to Christian rock concert, eat fatty foods and stare at Christian TV.
5. Sloth. Classically defined, sloth is lethargy stemming from a sense of hopelessness. Viewing our nation and the world as an irreparable disaster, where our exhortations, prayers, votes and labors will not produce any temporal fruit, leaves one with all the fervor of a normal guy who’s forced to French kiss his sister.
If you’re wondering why your flock is so apathetic, Pastor Eeyor, ask yourself if you have stolen their earthly hope that their valiant efforts can actually prevail in time, and not just in eternity. If you constantly pump the doom and gloom message, if you teach them that evil will ultimately triumph on our terra firma, if you spew messages that consciously or unconsciously convey “big devil” and “little God,” then you have effectively zapped what’s left of your parishioners’ passion.
6. They don’t want to lose their Tax Exempt status. Many pastors, priests and parishioners have been cowed into inactivity by the threatened loss of their tax-exempt status if they say anything remotely political. This can make pastors who don’t, or won’t, get good legal advice about as politically active as Howard Hughes was during the flu season.
The church may, among other things, register their members to vote, pass out voter guides, invite all candidates in a race to speak (even if only one of them shows up) and speak directly about specific issues.
Off the clock, in his personal capacity, the pastor or priest can endorse and support (or oppose) whomever or whatever he wishes-like any other citizen. There are no limitations to the individual; the ones that do exist under the 501(c)(3) statute are only for the church entity and/or the pastor in his official capacity, not for the pastor or the members who make up the church.
7. They bathe in paltry pietism. Pastors avoid politics because such concerns are “unspiritual,” and their focus is on the “spirit world.” Yes, to such imbalanced ministers, political affairs are seen as “temporal and carnal,” and since they trade in the “eternal and spiritual,” such “worldly” issues get nada.
This bunch is primarily into heavenly emotions and personal Bible study, and they stay safely tucked away from society and its complicated issues. How sweet. They forget that they are commanded to be seriously engaged with our culture and or fall into the worthless category Christ warned them of (Mt.5.13). Snap.
8. They have bought into the Taliban comparison. Pastors have muffled their political/ cultural voices because they fear being lumped in with Islam by the politically correct thought police. The correlation made between Christians’ non-violent attempts at policy persuasion and the Taliban’s kill-you-in-your-sleep campaigns is nothing more than pure, uncut crapola.
Ministers, please blow off the tongue-wagging blowhards who try to intimidate you into silence by making quantum, ludicrous, scat-laden and analogous leaps in equating the implementation of a gracious, Biblical worldview with the Islam-o-fascists cross-eyed wet dream.
9. They can’t say, “No” to minutiae. Some ministers can’t get involved in studying or speaking out regarding pressing issues simply because of the ten tons of junk they are forced to field within their congregations. Spending time wet nursing 30-year-olds without a life and being bogged down in committee meetings over which shade of pink paint should be used for the women’s ministerial wing of their church, ministers are lucky if they get to study the Bible nowadays-much less anything else.
This is the fault of both the ministers with their messiah complexes and the congregants with their me-monkey syndromes, and they must all have their foreheads thumped if the church is going to tackle cultural issues.
10. They likey the money. The creepy thing about a lot of ministers is their unwillingness to give political or cultural offense when offense is needed, simply because taking a biblical stand on a political issue might cost them their mega-church, which means their seven homes, their Bentley and their private jet. Oh well, what do you expect? Christ had His Judas, and evangelicalism has it money loving hookers.
If the ministers within the good old US of A would crucify their fear of man, get solidly briefed regarding the chief political issues, not sweat necessary division, not get caught up in last days madness, maintain their hope for tomorrow, understand their liberties under God and our Constitution, not become so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good, focus on the majors and blow off bowing to cash instead of convictions, then maybe . . . just maybe . . . we will see their righteous influence cause our nation to take the needed sharp turn away from the secularist progressives’ speedily approaching putrid pit.
I think Mr. Giles could add this #11 here:
11. They bought into the Politically-Correct Jesus. Yes, American liberalism has constructed a whole new Jesus for this generation that pastors have either been forced or are forcing acceptance of. Whether it’s Global Warming Evangelism, or Anti-war Pacifism – the Secular Left is laying claim that Christianity has been hijacked from it’s Socialist roots and that the REAL JESUS, stands for the values of the Democrat party in terms of a pro-union/pro-choice liturgy; a Jesus that preaches the Judge Not Sin Doctrine and Good Christians support bureaucratic charity in big government and Free Healthcare compassions.
Clearly this requires the accepting Christian viewpoint that all religions are equal, lead to the same place and that there is no sin, except ‘intolerance’, which is really nothing more than pointing out bad behavior. Celebrating bad behavior and sin is good, and demanding good behavior is intolerance.
As Mr. Gile alluded, pastors need to get God out of their boxes, and realise the fact that Jesus did not call us to be taken out of this world, but to impact this world, to fulfill Matthew 28:19 – and that requires ENGAGING the culture – not running from it.