The Gospel of Christ, and Politics
It is deeply disturbing to me to have witnessed the politicizing of Christianity in this nation. The conjoining of politics and faith have led to a polarization of our nation that has not been seen since just prior to the Civil War. In our having politicized Christianity, we’ve reduced the Gospel of Christ to a battle between political and social issues that have alienated many from the ultimate message of Christ, that we are in need of redemption, and that repentance and conversion of heart are to become the priority of each and every one of us.
By insisting that we are still a Christian nation, we’ve allowed a polarization to take place that has pushed Christianity to the brink, having linked values, and moral teachings that are based on the Gospels, while the world around us has become jaded, even hostile, to whatever the Church has to say. Thus, the primary message of the Gospel is dismissed, before people can even be brought through the door of our temples.
Today’s youth are leaving Christianity in droves, as has been demonstrated in the demographics of America’s “Bible Belt”. The number of young people, even in the conservative South, who are giving birth out of wedlock, or having abortions, has skyrocketed. The support of civil marriage for same sex partners, has increased dramatically. These moral issues are of course a concern for Christians, but our acceptance of the moral standards set forth in the Scriptures, are received by us, not as law, but as a result of our personal encounter with Christ. Legislative action ignores the fact that Christ changes the heart, and a society that is to be transformed, must see this transformation take place in the hearts of its people. For we Christians to foist our beliefs upon the nation, only creates resentment, and Christophobia.
Society must be transformed, but it can not be done by force of law. It must be done by bringing Christ to the center of our national scene. This can only be done when Christian love and charity rule, and when the nation can see in it’s Christian peoples, an honesty of heart, and an authentic witness to Christ, that is not based on an angry polarization that contributes nothing but distrust, and disunity.
Chuck Colson, who was one of President Nixon’s Watergate people, and who, during his incarceration in prison, converted to Christ, said: “We made a big mistake in the ’80s by politicizing the Gospel … We [thought] that we could solve the deteriorating moral state of our culture by electing good guys. That’s nonsense. Now people are kind of realizing it was a mistake.” Change must begin with us, not with our society. Laws will not make this a Christian nation, for many of these very laws some politicians would enact, are also the basis of Islamic law. Biblical morality can only become an integral part of our nation, when we, as a people, have taken Christ into our hearts, and allowed the Holy Spirit to change us.
As Christians, we must not detract from the central message of the Gospels, by making it appear to be a part of one political party. To do so, will eventually lead to the total discrediting of the institution of the Church. History has proven, time and again, that the Church must remain aloof from political parties, or movements, for when the party is out of office, so is the Church’s influence. Christianizing of a nation can not be the result of legislation. It must come with the conversion of its people.
Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), Chairman of External Relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, boldly delivered the following address before an assembly of the World Council of Churches: “When are we going to stop making Christianity politically correct and all-inclusive?……Why do we insist on accommodating every possible alternative to the centuries-old Christian tradition? Where is the limit, or is there no limit at all? Many Christians worldwide look to Christian leaders in the hope that they will defend Christianity against the challenges that it faces…..Our holy mission is to preach what Christ preached, to teach what the apostles taught, and to propagate what the holy Fathers propagated.”
Love in Christ,
Photo: My spiritual son, Shayne John Swenson of Spokane, gifted the monastery this beautiful icon of Blessed Seraphim Rose. Many of the icons in our temple were painted by Shayne, including the icon of my late spiritual father, Blessed Dimitry of Santa Rosa.
Thursday July 23, 2020 / July 10, 2020
7th Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
The Placing of the Precious Robe of the Lord at Moscow (1625).
Holy 45 Martyrs at Nicopolis in Armenia, including Leontius, Maurice, Daniel, Anthony, Alexander, Anicetus, Sisinius, Meneus, and Belerad (Verelad) (319).
Venerable Anthony of the Kiev Caves (1073).
New Hieromartyrs Alexander, Basil, Peter ans Stephen priests, Gregory and Nestor deacons (1918).
Venerables Eumenes (1920) and Parthenius (1905) of Gortyna.
Venerable Silouan of the Far Caves in Kiev (13th-14th c.).
Martyr Apollonius of Sardis (3rd c.).
Martyrs Bianor and Silvanus of Pisidia (4th c.).
10,000 Fathers of the desert and caves of Scetis martyred by the impious Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria (398).
“Konevits” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Translation of the relics (1609) of St. Basil, bishop of Ryazan (1295).
St. Gregory, bishop of Assos near Ephesus (1150) (Greek).
New Hieromartyr Archpriest Joseph of Damascus and Companions (1860).
Synaxis of All Saints of Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos.
The Scripture Readings
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. 28 And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.
The King on a Cross
32 Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.
1 Corinthians 7:24-35
24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.
To the Unmarried and Widows
25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.
32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried [b]cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
12 Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”
13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”
15 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.”
16 So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
A Gentile Shows Her Faith
21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.