Christian right-wing politics
I read an article yesterday on the role of Father Richard John Neuhaus in the American right in a recent issue of New Republic Magazine. It was a biased article from a fairly agnostic perspective, but nevertheless it hit some points that I have been thinking about.
First of all, it is very much in vogue among concerned Christians to create a moral hierarchy of issues on which we must all march lock-step. First and formost among these are issues of a sexual nature (abortion, homosexual "marriage", etc.). The problem with this perspective is that we more often than not lose sight of how the Gospel addressed social questions. Who really gets it from Christ in the Gospels? Is it the prostitutes, the lechers, or perverts? Sure, Christ does not endorse their behavior and even condemns it. The only time he gets angry, and really angry, is when sellers cheat the poor in the Temple. And what about Lazarus and Dives? Do we get indignant over the same things Christ gets indignant over? Sure, we might say that economic crimes are wrong, but where is the passion of most concerned Christians when it comes to these isssues?
Secondly, it is the old question of the "sacrum imperium". Is Christianity a recipe for a good, civilized society, or is it a constant challenge to the social order in any society where the Gospel emerges? Like the "self-help" approach of many evangelical Christians, many try and sell the Faith as something that will make us all live in peace and harmony. (Images of "Leave It to Beaver" episodes should be flashing through your head.) Christ, however, said He would bring strife and the sword. So how do we reconcile these things?
Real Christian political theory is almost exclusively prophetic. It knows that you can't fix a hopelessly broken situation, that is, life here amdist fallen human nature. Christianity in society cannot be reduced to a system; indeed, that is the quickest way to kill the Gospel. Simply put, there is no such thing as a "Christian society", there are only Christians living in a fallen world. Our task is to care for the least of our brethren, witness the love of Christ, and cry against injustice when it emerges. This can be done in many ways, but always with the mentality that there are no perfect solutions this side of the Parousia.
Any other approach, no matter how affective it might appear at first, can only lead to the most tragic perversions of the Gospel.