There is an old sports adage that tells us the best offense is a good defense. Of course, if you didn’t already know that it was a colloquialism of sport you might just as easily assume that it was referring to Christians’ M.O. for political engagement. Anyone who has observed the American political spectrum over the last several decades could have noted that the vast majority of issues that has engaged Christians—Evangelicals in particular—have been defensive in nature. We have defended traditional marriage, defended the value of life in its earliest and latest stages, defended prayer in schools, and defended traditional morality. But after all these years on the defensive, perhaps it is time to critique some of the negative aspects of being a defensive movement.
The first and most obvious problem is that being defensive means that we are essentially a reactionary movement. Being reactionary leads others to see us as a negative force in society, we are known for being against abortion, against gay marriage, and against evolution being taught in schools. It is difficult to draw much popular support when the nation sees you as being the faction of “no.” This is especially true in the political sphere, where anytime a party or person is known only for what they are against results in a sound thrashing at the polls.
More importantly, however, we must shirk this defensive posture because it makes our Gospel too narrow. The Gospel is so much more than simply saying “no” to moral decay in society. It is about freedom, healing, spiritual wholeness and unity with God (Luke 4:18-19). When we spend all of our time fighting against the forces of secularism and hedonism, we have little capital left to spend on participating in the expansion of Christ’s Kingdom.
Now, before I get too carried away I must admit that there are in fact times to play defense, and there are many good examples of Christians being on offense as well. The problem that I am seeking to address, however, is the negative consequences of most of society viewing us as the ones who are against this litany of issues. If we spent more time loving, promoting justice, and taking care of the needy we wouldn’t have the black eye in society that we are now enduring. My prayer is that we would encourage one another towards love and good deeds as we glorify God in our political engagement.