Christian Political Ethics Are Upside Down: “We’re adamant about politics and flexible about virtue.”

"To understand what I mean, let’s refer back to one of my favorite passages in scripture—Micah 6:8.... simple to understand yet tough to execute: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”" (So why is our political culture so toxic?) - David French

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Ken S's picture

From the article:

In the face of the moral complexity and difficulty of the true Christian moral call, we’ve created a hierarchy of values. It’s not that we absolutely reject kindness or humility or decency. It’s not that we’re going to condemn the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—it’s just that they’re “secondary values.” When push comes to shove, it’s our vision of justice that matters.

 

The fruit of the spirit is timeless. There is no political emergency that justifies a departure from these core values. Scripture anticipates that Christians will face evil, yet the command is clear: “See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.”

Christian young people are often taught that they should be countercultural. The youth group version of that admonition goes something like this: When the world is profane, your speech is clean. When the world is drunk, you are sober. When the world is promiscuous, you are chaste. How do you know we’re Christian? We don’t cuss, drink, or have premarital sex. 

But the call to counterculture is much more comprehensive. When the world is greedy, you are generous. When the world is cruel, you are kind. When the world is fearful, you are faithful. When the world is proud, you are humble. How do you know we’re Christian, by our love. 

Yes, we say. Yes to all of this. Right until the moment when we think that our kindness, our faithfulness, or our humility carries with it a concrete political cost. We think we know what’s just, and we can’t do justice without power. 

And so, in our arrogance, we think we know better than God. We can’t let kindness or humility stand in the way of justice. Yet we’re sowing the wind, and now we reap the whirlwind. The world’s most-Christian advanced nation is tearing itself apart, and its millions of believers bear much of the blame. 

This is a fantastic article. Christian nationalism is much more than just the 7 Mountain Mandate mentioned in another thread, although it includes that. It's the Christian virtues (or lack thereof) that we've been willing to overlook in order to accomplish our desired political ends. Jesus exemplified giving up power for the sake of love, something that we evangelicals have backwards all too often.

Ken S's picture

Here's a minor example from today's news:

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis called Dr. Anthony Fauci a "little elf" during a Wednesday speech and said that someone needs to "chuck him across the Potomac."

"I'm just sick of seeing him. I know he says he's going to retire. Someone needs to grab that little elf and chuck him across the Potomac," he said.

It's fine to disagree and critique policies and ideas. Mocking the individual is a different story. It's wrong and unChristlike, and much of the unsaved world knows it. They will be watching as millions of Christians will be laughing at this today and making Fauci memes.

Joel Shaffer's picture

This is a fantastic article. Christian nationalism is much more than just the 7 Mountain Mandate mentioned in another thread, although it includes that. It's the Christian virtues (or lack thereof) that we've been willing to overlook in order to accomplish our desired political ends. Jesus exemplified giving up power for the sake of love, something that we evangelicals have backwards all too often.

Christian Ethics is often assumed by the church-at-large but not a discipline that is taught. What French is doing is applying Christian Virtue Ethics to today's political climate. Even though the church, whether Protestant (Mainline or Evangelical) or Roman Catholic has a rich and deep theological and philosophical well to draw upon when it comes to virtue and deontological ethics, the majority of Christians embrace a post-modern spirit-of-the-age ethics that is rooted in enlightenment thinking.  The majority of Christians used to base what is right or wrong based on the action itself (Deontological Ethics-which Christians also have a rich theological and philosophical well to draw upon) However, right or wrong is now based upon the result (often times perceived personal happiness and fullfillment) that it brings (consequentialist ethics) to the greatest amount of people. That is pure pagan utilitarianism and pragmatism.  

I've noticed that some conservative Christians throwing around the terms, Biblical or Christian Worldview as they join with or justify or completely ignore the unethical actions of cultural and political figures who are fighting the culture war against the Left, even when their attacks are based on lies to create more fear or disparage the character of their opponents.  But one cannot hold to a Christian/Biblical Worldview without a standard of right or wrong and the virtues that are produced by our union in Christ.

Now I realize that the left often lies to create more fear or disparages the character of the cultural, religious, and political right in order to score points in the cultural war (Think about all of the lies, slander, vandalism, and character asassinations that the cultual and political left is bringing against the Crisis Pregnancy Centers across the nation now that Roe vs. Wade was overturned in their battle for unrestrained reproductive rights).  But I expected it from them because so many don't hold to a moral standard of absolute truth and will freely admit that they're ethics come from consequentialist and utilitarian thinking. What I see is that its not just those on the cultural and political left that have been seduced by post-modern thinking. Its us conservatives too. Too many conservative Christians think they have to fight dirty against the libs who have always fought dirty in order to win or survive, which is such shallow, unprincipled, and short-term thinking that will eventually lose in the end.