Since the Hobby Lobby case, I have learned two things about being Christian.
First, being Christian means that you are right and that the other side is not only wrong, but a detriment to American freedom. Conservatives are boasting that their victory over liberals is a “welcoming gesture not only toward religious freedom, but also freedom of conscience.” The blog Seasons of Grace asks that we join the author “in a prayer of thanks at this ruling.” Joining in prayer is all well and good, but apparently it’s not a season of grace. Rather, it’s a season of violence. Immediately after her call for prayer, the blogger posted a meme of Batman slapping Barack Obama:
Prayer and violence, apparently, go hand in hand – or hand across the face, as the case may be. And isn’t that what we want? Our Superhero God to sweep in and defeat our enemies through political rule. Ahh, thanks be to our God for the sweet taste of victory over our political enemies! But don’t let up! Conservatives know that in the culture wars, the battle is far from over. In fact, the case should have been voted 9-0! The 5-4 vote shows just how awful and incomprehensibly far American culture has fallen. And damn that Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her “overwrought dissenting opinion”! So batten down the hatches! Prepare the ammunition! Conservative Christians are bringing the fight to their liberal counterparts.
Let’s all pray in a moment of thanks…
But if you are a liberal, you think that you are right and that the Supreme Court’s ruling is “a travesty of justice grounded in the same brutish sexism and classism that has always informed the most egregious and shameful rulings of the highest court in our land.” What the conservative judges on the court wrought on American society is such a travesty to freedom that even Lady Liberty holds her head in shame.
You also know that many women use contraception not for pregnancy prevention, but for help with serious health problems. You know that corporations aren’t religious, that this ruling is a sign of the corporate takeover of the world, that birth control pills are scientifically not an abortifacient, that this decision is actually bad for religious freedom, that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is your hero, and that if Hobby Lobby were a religious corporation its practices would be hypocritical because its retirement plan invests in contraception and it does business with China where workplace conditions are so bad that “Seventy thousand Chinese employees die every year due to workplace conditions” and where 13 million abortions are performed each year. But there is hope! Liberal Christians only lost 4-5. So batten down the hatches! Prepare the ammunition! Liberal Christians are bringing the fight to their conservative counterparts.
Is this what Christian politics is all about? Are we stuck in an endless political rivalry with our fellow Christians? Or, rather than fantasizing about slapping the other side across the face, can we choose a more gracious way to respond?
Those questions lead me to the second thing I’ve learned about being Christian. Being Christian, whether conservative or liberal, means being called to a different kind of politics. We have an incredibly important opportunity before us. We can either be known for the way we fight these political battles, or for the way we seek to understand the other’s position. Understanding our political enemies is, after all, part of what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ meant when he called us to love our enemies.
Our determination to defeat our opponents is a distraction from Jesus’ call to love our enemies. It’s important for Christians to participate in politics, but it’s even more important to participate in the Kingdom of God, which is an entirely different kind of politics.
Churches have an important opportunity to practice this different kind of politics. Its politics, its way of life, shouldn’t get distracted by rivalries and blame, but rather it should fulfill the mission God gave to Abraham to “be a blessing to all the families of the earth.” The church’s political goals should not be to defeat our political enemies, but to find ways to bless all the families of the earth.
Your political enemies? Find ways to bless them.
Women who, for any reason, need contraception and can’t afford it? Find ways to bless them.
Women who have chosen to have abortions? Find ways to bless them.
Women who have chosen to not have abortions and struggle to provide for their children? Find ways to bless them.
The Hobby Lobby case presents us with a choice. Will we choose to be a blessing or a curse to the other side? In this case, Christians are becoming known for the way we curse one another. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to bless and to love our enemies.
One thing that Christians can objectively agree upon is that our Lord and Savior calls us to do just that.