BIG QUESTIONS #005 – Should Religion and Politics mix?

Read Matthew 23:27-28 to get started …

In this piece of scripture Jesus directly challenges the Pharisees and Sadducees and calls them hypocrites. These Jewish officials were the politicians of the time in Judah, (Israel used to be called Judah). The Romans who conquered and occupied the territory, (renaming it Judea), were quite happy to allow the internal affairs to be governed by the Jewish population. Jesus came head to head with these officials on many occasions. See the Further reading links at the bottom.

•  Jesus’ ministry gave healing

•  Jesus came to give Hope

•  Jesus came to teach, proclaim the good news, and bring us to himself.

Where society fails to heal or stands in the face of hope would we expect Jesus to challenge the policy makers? Should we?

It’s important to remember social justice is mission. In the Anglican Church the fourth mark of mission compels us to “transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.”

The main argument against challenging policy, which I hear from time to time, is some people feel the Church shouldn’t tell them what to do. I agree with this premise, to a point. However, whilst a minority in the Church do seek to tell people what to do, particularly on issues such as gender and inclusivity, the broad Church does not.

It, the broad Church representing a large majority, seek only to model Christs behaviour in the world. This model is then open for others to accept or not, to accept or to challenge, it is a free choice.

Only when policies spread hate, or when they are clearly unjust and cause real harm to people or Gods wider creation, should the Church seek to challenge such policy. This is an integral aspect of Mission, a vital aspect of Mission.

Of note is the C of E’s petition to the UK government to ban gay conversion Therapy nationwide. Something the government has so far failed to do.

As we traverse this world in the image of Christ should we not seek to transform society? Perhaps you feel differently, I’d love to hear from you.

Revd Stephen

Further Reading

Matthew 21:13 / Matthew 23:23 / Luke 4:18-20 / John 19:12