[9]        Politics (3): Social Action

Background:

There are many anti-Christian organizations in North America employing legal terrorism to suppress Christian influence in the public square. With the help of liberal judges, they have won numerous legal battles. In the US, conservative judges have a bare 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court which acts as the last line of defence against radical secularization. In Canada, the Supreme Court is dominated by liberal judges which have pulled the Canadian society into faster and more extreme secularization. Meanwhile, Christians retreat again and again without any resistance.

42.  What is social justice? What is social action?

a.   The term “social justice” is not found in the Bible but God commands believers to seek justice in the society (Amos 5:24).

b.   The Bible specifically refers to 2 kinds of social justice:

(1)  legal justice in courts (Ex 23:6; Lev 19:15; Dt 16:19; Am 5:12,14) – due process and equal protection (absolute impartiality and strict fairness)

(2)  no exploitation or oppression of the underprivileged by the rich and the powerful (Ex 22:22-24; Pr 14:31; Dt 24:17; Mal 3:5) – proper standards in commerce and employment, such as fair wages

c.   There are 2 ways to achieve social justice:

(1)  Social assistance: the philanthropic activity to relieve human basic needs such as food and clothing

(2)  Social action is the sociopolitical activity to effect changes in social institutions, e.g. government.

d.   Modern usage of the term:

·         In modern times, “social justice” is broadened to include any pursuit of fairness and equality which unfortunately are based on secular standards. The quest for reproductive rights ended in the legalization of abortion. The quest for sexual rights ended in legalization of homosexual marriage.

·         A good term has now been corrupted by its usage in a bad way. Therefore, Christians should not accept any claim of “social justice” without discernment. Christians’ definition of social justice is based on the righteousness of God and is vastly different from the definition of secular humanists.

43.  Should Christians participate in social action?

a.   Christians have a duty to oppose degrading influences in our society (2Pe 2:4-10) when the government acts against moral principles (Isa 10:1-2; Am 5:11-12).

b.   Participation:

·         In a democracy, one effective way to influence government is to participate in social action.

·         The local church can participate in social action only to defend the Biblical standard. It can speak through Christian organizations such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC). It can also encourage church members to participate in social action.

·         Individual Christians can participate more freely but they should follow God’s guidance.

c.   Types of social action:

(1)  Communication: expressing opinions through the use of mass media (such as TV or newspaper), meeting with politicians, lobbying legislators with petitions or letter campaigns

(2)  Organized sociopolitical action:

o        public demonstrations and rallies: to show the unity and strength of opposition

o        block voting: to coordinate voting and elect likeminded politicians

o        civil disobedience: to disobey and protest against government laws or orders

d.   Civil disobedience:

(1)  Actions include boycotts, tax revolt (refuse to pay tax), strikes, even revolution.

(2)  Although the Bible contains examples of civil disobedience (Ex 1:15-21; Esther 4; Da 1; 3; 6; Ac 5:29), it may lead to disrespect for the law and may cause anarchy.

(3)  Christians must be careful and may participate only if:

o        The law or institution is truly unjust or immoral.

o        No secret activities are involved.

o        The participants are willing to accept the penalty for such action.

(4)  Revolution is an attempt to make a radical change in the system of government. Some Christians oppose to any kind of revolution arguing that God, as the only providential judge in history, is the only one to ovethrow government (Da 2:21). Others believe that revolutions can be just in extreme circumstances. Arguments appear to be reasonable on both sides.

44.  What are the barriers to Christian involvement in social action?

a.   Lack of interest:

·         Evangelicals believe that the world is irredeemable and can only be changed by God.

b.   Influenced of secular slogans (such as “separation of church and state”)

c.   Barriers created by Christians:

·         Edmund Burke (1729-1797): “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” A variation of this saying: All that is necessary for Satan to take over our society is that Christians do not resist. Inaction in the face of evil is as much a sin as wrongdoing (Jas 4:17).

·         Here are some of those barriers:

o        The mission of the church is evangelization, not social action. [BUT: The advance of secularism only results in greater psychological barriers to the gospel.]

o        The church must not involve in politics. [BUT: If the government openly encourages our children to take illicit drugs, should we simply let our children be influenced by this policy?]

o        Only God has the power to change history. If Christians are concerned about the government, they should only pray. [BUT: We are called to be salt of the world, meaning action is required. Can we say: If Christians are concerned about the souls of non-believers, we should simply pray and not do anything?]

d.   Some Christians may have the illusion that whatever happens in the society may not affect them. Yet, what happens in the society will likely affect us and our children. When homosexuality is taught in the schools, more of our children will become homosexuals.

45.  Does Christian social action make a difference?

a.   In the US, block voting coordiated by Christians elected many pro-life politicians since 1994.

b.   The result is a great reversal in US social policies.

·         Clinton was the most anti-life president in US history. He supports abortion. He twice vetoed the partial birth legislation. He tried to force the military to accept openly homosexual people but failed. He openly boasted that he would only appoint judges who support abortion.

·         In contrast, Bush restricted grants to international organizations that promote abortions. He promotes religious expressions in education. He signed the legislation to prohibit partial birth abortions. He nominated pro-life judges. In international conferences, the US delegation is now on the pro-life side and is opposite to secular humanist delegations sent from Canada and Australia.

·         Pro-life judges in the US Supreme Court have great impact. Many liberal court rulings have been reversed, including decisions on euthanasia, Boy Scouts against homosexual leaders.

c.   In Canada:

·         There are organizations that participate in social action. But because Canadians are less sensitive about socio-cultural issues, there has seldom been any political impact. The government has long been favouring “pro-choice” causes and has ignored all pro-life letter and petition campaigns.

·         Recently, because of the government’s push for homosexual legislations, Canadians, especially Christians, have expressed their concerns through public prayer vigils and demonstrtions.

d.   There are successful social impact despite events in the political and legal fronts:

·         Education campaigns on the evil of abortions have reduced people supporting abortion.

·         Education for abstinence before marriage have reduced the proportion of sexually-active teenagers.

·         Public opposition of homosexual marriage has reduced public support for homosexual marriage.