In part 1, we looked at the politics of the dragon and politics of the Lamb and began to ask how we might consider voting in this presidential election. In part 2, we will look at the two candidates themselves. In part 3, we are trying to imagine what the politics of the Lamb might look like and how that might guide us this political season. The opinions expressed are my own and do not reflect the stances of any church or organization.
The political leaders in America flirt with and follow the politics of the dragon. The politics of the Lamb provide a creative, truthful, faithful witness to the Lamb.
The politics of the Lamb are creative, meaning both that they work outside of the normal political structures in surprising ways and that they create and build new ways of engaging the city of the dragon, ruled by the beast. Just because the American political lens leaves us without good options doesn’t mean that the lens is right. God is creative – that is, He makes something out of nothing, He makes sinners into saints, He brings life out of death. Godly, Lamb-like, creative politics tells us to find a new lens, or build one. That may mean building a new political party (like the American Solidarity Party, new as of this Spring). Many Christians have renewed their focus on local politics and deemphasized national politics. But it may also mean rethinking political engagement entirely. Rod Dreher‘s “Benedict Option” explores ways that Christians might impact the culture without winning elections. For many years, Stanley Hauerwas has been calling for the church to be the church and worry less about elections. And various intentional communities are living out Gospel politics throughout the country and the world in ways that rarely or never get national attention (like the New Monastic communities and various kinds of communities around Classical Christian schools, to point to a few).
These kinds of creative engagement with the world build new lenses and structures that work outside of and stand against the structures of Babylon. We don’t yet know the effectiveness or staying power of these projects, but they are all creative ways of maintaining Christian identity and supporting Christian politics without just giving in to the politics of the dragon. It may be important to note that these efforts may never have the national impact that a presidential election has, but that is not the point. If our lenses teach us that we must have national impact, then our lenses are already stuck in the politics of the dragon. God may call us to small things, and those small things may have greater impact in His Kingdom than the “big” things which take our attention, because the God in Whom we are trusting can multiply the impact in His creative way.
The Lamb’s politics are also truthful. That is, they are based in the reality of creation and support those who tell the truth about themselves and the way God made the world. The dragon tells lies about who is in charge and whom we must worship. These lies coerce humanity to worship the beast and the self and prevent us from raising our eyes to the Creator and Ruler of Heaven and Earth. The lies permeate all of our common life, from our politics to economics to entertainment to the structure of the household and marriage and sex: the human person is a blank slate; I can create myself so that I become whatever I want to be outside of God-given limits; my child is mine, not God’s; human sexuality is a game; the market is God; freedom is freedom of choice; my wants and desires are my master, and they define my identity. All of these lies convince us to seek other gods, and, in our culture, most of the lies point us to worshipping ourselves instead of the One who created us.
The Lamb would have us worship His Father (and Himself and the Spirit). True worship consists of Trinitarian worship – and true politics, economics, marriage, sex, and all other forms of human expression are best done in relationship with the Triune God. The human person is a person in community; I am bounded by God and by my duties to others; everything I have – including my work, spouse, and children – is gift from God; human sexuality is a gift and a sacrament of God; God is God, and the operations of work and money are meant to reveal His love and grace; freedom is for the sake of goodness and virtue; my wants and desires must be mastered for the sake of serving the Kingdom of God. A truthful politics would emphasize the value of human life, humanity’s role in caring for God’s creation, the destructiveness of false sexual narratives, the damage of greed and consumerism, and the worship of God that leads to justice.
Following the Lamb requires that we speak and act for truth in our politics. Solzhenitsyn reportedly said [I haven’t found the source on this – if you know, let me know]: “You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.” This represents a truthful kind of politics – though the lie may be winning, I will continue to speak the truth. We can trust the truth because we worship the God who created and cares for reality as it is. He made all this good and He will fulfill His promises to creation – to crush evil and eliminate it, to resurrect what has suffered and died in the old creation, and to unite Heaven and Earth in a New Creation and live in intimacy with us. Because God is who He is, we can worship and live in truth.
Finally, the Lamb’s politics are faithful, and in Revelation the faithful reject both idolatry (the New Jerusalem only worships God and the Lamb) and adultery (the New Jerusalem is a faithful bride to the Lamb). The Lamb’s army refuses to flirt with the beast or compromise with the other forces of the dragon and instead its members dress themselves in the white linen of those who are faithful no matter the cost. Power, victory, wealth, even life – these are not reasons to compromise with lies and violence. In the Lamb’s army, victories come by faithful witness to the Lamb, not by defeating enemies or gaining offices. God is in control of outcomes, above and beyond the executive, legislative, and judicial branches or the beasts and dragon.
The Lamb’s followers do not have to support politicians or parties when those politicians speak untruths or work to destroy life or invite idol worship. When no one is speaking for the oppressed, the church can reject all of the dragon’s politics. When both parties advocate for war, the church can fight for peace. When the dragon’s politics call for unjust policing and sentencing rules, the church can argue for justice. When politicians appeal to self-interest, the church can speak grace and love. Too often, Christian leaders have supported the evil decisions of political parties because of their affiliations with those parties (Evangelicals tend to support the Republican Party and their evil; Mainline Christians have tended to support the Democrats and their evil). Why? These parties do not represent Christ, even though they both occasionally advocate for policies that are agreeable to the church. The parties do not worship Christ, they worship various kinds of freedom and the self. They are drawing our loves and inviting us to adulterate ourselves with them.
The Lamb would have us remain faithful to Him, and to reject all the politics of the dragon. It is more important for Christians to faithfully celebrate our intimacy with Christ in the Lord’s Supper than that we vote. We should remember and honor the saints and martyrs more than American military heroes. Our loves should be ignited more by the Nicene Creed than by the American National Anthem. Our baptism must be nearer our identity than a flag or passport. Our fellowship must be closer with Syrian/Korean/Iranian/Russian Christians than with Americans who reject Christ. When these things are not true of us, then we know that our loves are being drawn to lovers other than the Lamb. Our hearts are wandering, and we are being invited to repent, to turn back, and to seek our First Love with faithfulness. In this sense, regular worship is an act of faithfulness; loving my spouse and kids is an act of faithfulness; rejecting the pull of money and power is an act of faithfulness; caring for the needy and oppressed, loving the unlovely, daily prayer and regular fasting, reconciling with those who have done evil, struggling and winning against the lusts in my heart, seeking unity in the church, and sacrificing myself for the sake of peace are all acts that reveal faithfulness to the Lamb. God the Father, His Son the Lamb, and the Holy Spirit are faithful to their promises to creation and to the church. While we, His bride, were prostituting ourselves with other lovers, the Lamb bought us out as a bride for Himself by His blood. While we make eyes at old ways and beasts and dragons, He is making us into a pure bride. While we are still faithless, He remains faithful to us and to His own promises. Because He is faithful, He is making us faithful.
And so, the Lamb’s politics are creative, truthful, and faithful, because He is Creator, the Truth, and our Faithful Bridegroom. Following our commander, we are an army doing battle against the evil ways of the city ruled by the dragon and the beasts. And, no matter who wins in November, our armies will have ultimate victory because of the sacrifice of the Lamb and the creativity, truth, and faithfulness of God and expressed by His people.