The debate surrounding politics and spirituality or religion is always a heated one. As a newly ordained minister priest who worked in the sphere of politics professionally for several years, I feel somewhat obligated to give my two cents on the issue. There are many who are adamant about the “separation of church and state”, even though this was actually a principle of not having a state religion, as opposed to prayer in school, etc. Then there are those who feel that the pastors should be the ones leading the charge against a tyrannical government and its unjust laws, as they were in the days of the American Revolution.
One of the biggest problems I see in all this, is that the definition of “political” has evolved into something so broad that every issue now seems to have some political connotation attached to it. This has a lot to do with the fact that the mechanisms of force and control inherent in government is presented as the answer to ALL life’s problems these days; which really stems from our mistaken idea that our problems are external from ourselves and need to be dealt with in a similar fashion. I feel it is imperative to reign in our definitions a bit, so let’s see what the dictionary defines as politics and political.
1. Art and science of government and the management of public life and affairs.
2. Activities concerned with seeking power, status, etc.
1. Of or concerning government or public affairs.
2. Taking or belonging to a side in politics.
3. Concerned with seeking power, status, etc.
Working in politics, I will expand on this from my own experience: When an issue becomes “political”, it essentially means that one or more parties has the end goal of using some form of legislation that is enforced through the power mechanisms of government to force one or more parties to behave in a desired manner. In order to get sectors of the population to get behind the issue that a particular party wishes to have politicized, a set of memes and talking points are established, specifically used to invoke emotional response and often times and “us” vs. “them” dialectic. I heard and repeated many of these one-liner talking points over and over and over again in my career as an organizer. I still hear these very simplistic talking points every time I turn to MSNBC for shits and giggles. And of course, the “conservative” media, ie. Fox has their own set of talking points that I am also very familiar with.
The point I am making is that an issue is only political when one or more parties seeks to use it as a platform to divide, manipulate and control others, while seeking to gather more power for themselves. By doing so, they come into a false notion that they have actual power by exerting their will over others and gaining a political “victory”. The power given and taken by this form of action is illegitimate and illusory, as any attempt by man to make laws to control and subvert the free will of other men will be. Man does not have this power in truth. But again, our definitions and perceptions obfuscate this simple truth.
By today’s standards, Jesus was indeed political. When he challenged those who were going to stone the adulteress because she had broken Jewish law; this action could be seen as “political”. When he threw out the money changers from the temple; this action could be seen as “political”. The difference however, was that Jesus challenged people and their morals directly; taking action for action’s sake and reflecting people’s delusions back on them in a compassionate manner. He did not attempt to use coercion and rely on the force of Caesar’s soldiers to change society or make people “behave”. Jesus did not use manipulation or coercion to get things done.
People can interpret, and re-interpret Romans 13 until the cows come home, and in the end it really doesn’t matter all that much. For those unfamiliar with it, the 13th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans has been used as debate on how far a Christian should submit to government as far as it as seen as an extension of God. Control and imprisonment is not the nature of God, it is the nature of man who has forgotten his true nature. The nature of the governments of man is a desire for power through the implementation of force that by its very nature will trample on the free will that is inherent to us as God-Beings. This is historically accurate regardless of when and where.
This being said, I am also not advocating being completely passive or promoting a state of moral relativism. The two main commandments of “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind and being and Love thy neighbor as thyself” are not relativistic in nature. In other words there are actions that embody this principle and there are actions that work against this principle. Things like protecting God’s creation and honoring free will as well as seeking to alleviate the suffering of my brothers and sisters falls under these two principles.
There are things that are aligned with Light, Life and Love, and there are things that are antithetical to those principles, and work against there further development and nurture within a being. Folks who say ‘it’s all the same, so it doesn’t matter’ are missing a major point of being incarnated on this plane: the spiritualization of matter and the “Christening of humanity”. These things aren’t just going to magically happen; there is a level of personal responsibility to this objective. Yes we are ALL already Light, Life and Love, but the conscious realization of these principles still needs to take place within us in a full manner. However I don’t feel that taking away the life and freedom of others through the mechanisms of government is the path of Christ or a humanity walking toward Christ Consciousness. This is the path of the old way: the path of a human species that has allowed itself to become lazy and apathetic and has willingly given away; a human species that still wishes to be as children. In this New Age, it is time for us to not to ignore the problems of the world, but get a little more mindful, creative and compassionate in how we deal with them; it’s time for us to grow up, and put away childish things and become men and women in the fullness of Christ.