November 7, 2006
Politics without the Voting
Colson's argument is, to me, mostly right. That is, in the normal course of human events, "Only by continuing to fight for our beliefs ? can we achieve the kind of moral reform and protection of human rights that Christians throughout the centuries and in every culture work for." When it comes to large, sweeping social justice, it is politics and war (politics when talking breaks down) that actually makes large social organisms (states) behave more justly.
And in one sense, Christians can never "fast" from politics. Not even the Amish do that, if we understand "politics" in its larger sense, of working with others in community to figure out how we live together in that community. Even if we don't vote, we are deeply embedded in "politics." Even when we immerse ourselves only in the life of the local church - that church, by being situated in a community, is being political: it is attempting in its own way to shape the community's values, even its very life. This is why I've argued in the pages of CT that the most political act of the Christian is corporate worship, wherein we point to a Reality - and are shaped by that Reality--that aims to transform our lives, our communities, our world.
"Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and blessed be his kingdom forever," begins the Anglican liturgy. If that is not a political statement, I don't know what is.
By implication, however, Colson seems to imply that to not vote is "to abandon the battle on behalf of the sick and the suffering, the prisoner and the unborn." I would guess that upon reflection, he might nuance that a bit. For even in a democratic society there are countless ways to battle for the sick and suffering besides voting. I doubt that Mother Teresa ever voted in an Indian election. Even if she did, her legacy on behalf of the sick and suffering was hardly her voting record.