Does this mean that pastors should ignore politics? No, it just means that pulpit time is too important to spend on campaigns that are like the grass of the field, springing up in Iowa and dying in Chicago. Here’s my key point: We don’t have to politicize churches, because churches are not the only venues in which Christians work together. All through the week Christians can and should form associations, organizations, and political clubs. We have six days of the week to study the issues and love our neighbors as ourselves by warning them about politicians who dishonor parents and defend abortion, unmarried sex, theft, lying, and coveting.
Just as liberals think that if government doesn’t do something, it won’t get done, so some Christian conservatives think that if pastors don’t head the parade, Christian values will be ignored—but that’s a lazy layman’s excuse. Pastors function well as reporters, spotlighting problems and teaching us their solution through Christ. God calls others to politics. A century ago Abraham Kuyper famously declared that every inch of this world is Christ’s. So is every minute, and if we don’t from Monday through Saturday form groups with our neighbors to apply what we learn on Sunday, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
I’ve twice heard Tony Campolo bring the Clintons and large Democratic audiences to their feet as he delivered his famous sermon, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” (In 1995 they were politically chastened and depressed; in 1997, after a big election win, they thought Sunday had come.) With Election Day coming soon, I don’t object to pastors, after exegeting Scripture, pointing out—to use Tom Sandlin’s words—“the duty of Christians to participate in the electoral process.” They can remind their flocks, “It’s Sunday, but Tuesday’s coming.”
The first Tuesday in November is especially important this year, with two alternative beliefs about government, debt, and compassion duking it out. God has given us liberty, and Christians have an obligation not to disdain His gift.