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Shawn McEvoy Christian Blog and Commentary

"Here I am, Stuck in the Middle... with You?"

  • Shawn McEvoy
    Shawn McEvoy is the Managing Editor of Crosswalk.com. He is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Shawn is married with two children. In addition to writing for the leading online evangelical publication, he has also written for fantasy sports and pop culture websites.
  • 2008 Aug 24
  • Comments


In Fall of 2004, and for every year since and many years before,
I was the commissioner of a fantasy football league with 14 players, each of whom considers himself an evangelical Christian. At some point during that season, the discussion on the league message board turned political, and someone asked, "How can you be a Christian and be a Democrat? Seriously, I want to know." Our most left-leaning (relative term) league member left the league over the question and resulting fifth-degree, it so disgusted him. I don't necessarily defend his reaction or decision, but I understood.

 

In May of the next year, I sat in the office of a community college professor - a self-described "flaming feminist liberal" - from whom I was seeking a position as an adjunct English instructor. When she found out what I did for a day job, she politely asked me: "I'm curious, I've just finished reading the Gospel of Matthew, and, well... how can someone call themselves a Christian and be a Republican?"

 

I just smiled. The irony was not lost on me. I've always felt caught in the middle. Maybe that's because I don't think any of my 39 years were directly made appreciably better or worse by who was in the White House. Among many of my peers at Oklahoma Baptist University, where I earned my B.A., I was jokingly called a leftist, a libbo, one who just couldn't join the Bill Clinton bashing. Later, while earning my Master's degree at Virginia Commonwealth University, I was lovingly labeled as that conservative intolerant evangelical who probably couldn't be trusted by the enlightened environmentalists, Wiccans, and homosexuals who were my classmates, and who just couldn't join the George W. Bush bashing. As far as I knew, I was still the same person - a person who has always tried and mostly failed to live out a biblical Christianity, and aimed for Paul's goal to be all things to all men. I hadn't changed, but my surroundings had, and they somehow defined me.

 

But back to the questions of the fantasy football owner and the prof - how can a Christian be a Democrat? Don't Democrats have as their primary objectives the killing of the unborn, the sacred union of people who lack compatible body parts, the loving of trees and animals over the real-world needs of mankind, and the over-taxing of my Protestant-work-ethic-generated paycheck? That's how I took my comrade's question. How can a Christian be a Republican? Aren't all Republicans selfish, hypocritical warmongers who try to arrogantly police the world in order to deviously pad their own wallets, who have little interest in minorities, social programs, or feeding the poor while exhausting natural resources and refusing to live in harmony with those who are different unless they can change them? That's what the professor seemed to be asking.

 

Those are pretty much the over-the-top, "I-can't-imagine-Jesus-approving-of-this!" broad-brush generalizations of the moral and religious issues both sides have with one another. That's one reason I've never picked a side. I know where I stand on abortion but it doesn't make me a republican. I know where I stand on gun control but it doesn't make me a democrat. Another reason is that, as I read it, Christ Himself didn't pick a side, at least not a worldly one. Some of His own followers grew pretty frustrated with Him because they believed the Messiah would be a political deliverer. Oh, He told us to pay our taxes, honor those in authority (who wouldn't be in authority had God not ordained or allowed it), and above all, trust God and not government to meet our needs. He also told us to take up our own cross daily, and wondered why we would strive for this world at the expense of our souls (Mark 8:34-36).

So I find it odd how often I encounter Christians on both sides of the political fence - so bothered by the other party's "immorality" - who resent or try go get out of paying taxes, have no respect for those who are trying to run the country the best they can, and argue about bigger or smaller government when their answers are more likely to be found in the bigness or smallness of their time spent in prayer, ministry, and Bible study. After all, regardless of who is in power or what happens on this earth, we've already been told how things are going to end. God wins - but only after it gets really ugly for a while, no matter what we do.

 

Does that mean we shouldn't take a stand for what's right, try to make the world a better place while we're here? Of course not. Honestly, I think that's what Christians of all political views are, at heart, trying to accomplish. 

I believe we're all trying to do good - to do our best as we see it. It's just that we've forgotten what "good" is, if we ever knew at all. We want the Bible to be an instruction book, to show us what is right and what is wrong in the simplest terms for the here and now. Our intentions are good.

 

But we're not. Not at the root. So it doesn't work that way, and God has already told us he prefers obedience to sacrifice. So how do we obey? How do we do what is good?

 

The prophet Micah said that "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (6:8).

 

Against such things there is no law, nothing that must be done on Capitol Hill. Paul admonished Christians not to draw lines between themselves and so hinder the effectiveness of The Church. As noted theologian Bart Simpson once said, "It's all Christianity, people. The little stupid differences are nothing compared to the big stupid similarities!"

Then there's me, still stuck in the middle, which is still no comfort zone, considering biblical warnings about friendship with the world and compromise. I simply hope I'm always being fair, compassionate, seeking to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 in The Message sums up where I try to live: "So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good," says God. "Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself. I'll be a Father to you; you'll be sons and daughters to me." 

 

Sounds like good politics to me.