Is the “Right” right?

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For years I have been uncomfortable with the awkward and even unholy alliance in America between the political right and evangelical Christianity.

I think it boils down to two issues that leave me so cold when those who are identified as Christians become uncritically linked with political conservatism.

1. Selectivity. Many of those who are followers of Jesus gravitate toward the political right because there are some views on moral and social issues that are shared in common. But the problem is that the list of issues is rather narrow and selective. It is rare that this strange alliance goes beyond the issues of abortion and homosexuality. There is a whole slew of other issues that people on the American scene who are committed to biblical fidelity need to take seriously and these issues are usually nowhere to be found on the agenda of the political right.

Civil rights, the poor, the environment, social justice, racism and gender bias, business ethics, war and peace, genocide, HIV/AIDS, the treatment of immigrants, human trafficking, etc., are all issues to which the good news of Jesus directly applies but about which the “right” is strangely silent or espouses a position that is shockingly antithetical to the clarion commands of scripture.

Way too many of us who name the name of Jesus are selective in our obedience. We seem to be more intent on protecting our social prerogatives and sticking with our political biases than we are committed to applying biblical truth to every aspect of life.

2. Shrillness. Too often I am embarrassed. I am ashamed by those who may believe many of the same theological truths that I hold dear but in their behavior and speech are shrill and accusatory. I don’t want to be identified with such.

There is no excuse for the incivility that too often oozes out of the unholy marriage between the political right and Christian faith. The language is hurtful, adversarial and repels those whom we should be attracting. What is genuinely redemptive becomes ugly and repulsive. Christians unfortunately get stereotyped as a bunch of culturally marginal, angry, bitter and even bigoted people rather than gracious mediators of the love of Christ.

What results are what many social observers call “culture wars.” The sad thing is that I doubt being victorious in such a battle will make any contribution whatsoever to Jesus’ Kingdom agenda for a lost and suffering planet. Quite the contrary, such fights may actually inhibit God’s redemptive purposes and and do little to help his name be renowned among the nations. How sad.

3 Responses to “Is the “Right” right?”

  1. Matt Visser Says:

    Sam,
    Well said…we often seek to confirm our comfortability with how we read scriptures…this leads to focusing on things that don’t apply to me…as a straight man, I do not need to confront the issues of homosexuality and abortion in my life…I do need to confront that great list of complex issues you mentioned…

  2. e r i c . s p a n g l e r Says:

    Politically ‘Right?’...

    Here’s an interesting link to a post by Sam Metcalf, at his blog Under the Iceberg which I read from time to time. The title of the post: Is the Right right? Sam writes:For years I have been uncomfortable with…

  3. Tony Says:

    Sam,

    What an excellent post. I have often been embarassed by the political Christian right and disapointed by the message they are presenting. Its this group of people that keep some people who are close to me from opening their hearts to Christ.

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