The difference politics can’t make
In about 5 minutes the polls will close on the 42nd Canadian Election. As I watch the news to see the updates of polls already closed, I am anticipating the social media posts of both joy and disgust at what is about to unfold in this great country.
I have a deep appreciation for politics. While I believe in the separation of Church and State, I believe the Church should be politically thoughtful. Politics informs policies, which affect people, and people matter to God. And I believe that political parties are trying to address the same problem that the church is, but don’t use the same word to express it.
Every election I am always intrigued by the party policies that get promoted. Each party presents a policy based on the ideologies that they hold to that they believe will best help the country, or at the very least get their party elected! But no matter who gets elected, will things ever really get better? Sure there will be some improvement, and personal perspectives will decide if things are better or worse. But ultimately, the change is somewhat minor in the grand scheme of things.
Because of sin.
That might sound strange and for someone who is not biblically minded this idea probably makes no sense. The reality of our world, though, is that it is infected with sin. One way of explaining what sin is biblically would be it is the thoughts and decisions that draw us away from the design God has for us to follow. Sociologically, I could describe sin as the decisions we make and actions we take that tarnish the good and beauty in others and the world. Sin is real, and sin is not a good thing. The reality of the world is that the line that divides good and evil runs right through our hearts, and when we embrace sin, we cross the line towards evil.
I believe each party is trying to deal with sin in society, even if they won’t name it.
Some parties are based on a philosophy that if we can create an environment where there are no societal evils oppressing people, they will make good decisions and benefit society. So they plan for affordable housing, policies around substance abuse and child care. Trying to create an environment that will give people every good opportunity they can imagine.
Other parties are influenced by ideologies that say we need harsher punishment for those who make wrong decisions that hurt others. So they develop platforms to be tough on crime and reward people who tow the societal norms of what it means to be a good citizen.
And there is a wide spectrum in between. I know this is an oversimplification to the nuances of politics and sin, but the reality is no policy can ever fix the problem of sin.
That’s why no matter who is elected in power for any country, it won’t really make that huge of a difference. There may be improvements in some ways, but people will still be infected by sin and chose to harm people. Whether it is the big business that accepts their tax breaks and pays minimum wage, the individual who chooses to embrace a life of crime, or the single mom who has to choose between paying her heating bill and providing food for her family. Or even the persons who serve in politics and choose to pass policies that benefit themselves in some way.
I believe that the ills of society find their root in the reality of sin. And no policy can manage that. But God has made a way to heal that. Which is why the church needs to be the church. It needs to offer the world hope and not get wrapped up into political parties and leanings, but focus on the reality of Christ. If the church corporately could be the church, it would be the hope of the world, and offer real change that no political party ever could.