Lutherans have often oversimplified the question of how we should think about government. We have often spoken as if the fact that there are two kingdoms ruled in two very different ways means that we can simply speak about the government however we want. We act as if we need to only be concerned with the Church. We are tempted to treat the rest as free since it is just the government which is ruled by the Law and not the Gospel.
And so oftentimes, Lutherans are found in lock step with one party or another feeling free to do so. We choose the Republicans because we value life and then swallow the rest of their platform whole. We choose Democrats because they speak of the weak and needy and then find a way to embrace the rest of what they say. We choose Libertarians because we do not value government period and then look the other way when they suggest any and every evil be sanctioned, even celebrated.
In some ways, I admire the Roman Catholic Church’s approach to political issues. While at times I think they get the positions wrong, as a body they do not simply line up with one party or another. One moment they have the Republicans raging mad with their incessant talk about the sinfulness of greed and consumerism. The next moment the blogs on the left are wildly posting about how Rome has spoken out again against same sex relationships on the basis of natural law. The Libertarians are up in arms whenever Rome suggests that the government is not free to sanction every action humanity wishes to take.
Government is to reward good and punish evil, keeping a special eye on the weak and needy (see Psalm 82). And the truth is that every party has wicked people seeking to mold their platform. And often they are successful. We must expose that whatever the party.
Oh yes, when we vote, we must eventually choose a proverbial lever to pull (does anyone still have levers?) based on our Christian beliefs and the other ideas we feel profitable for society. But between pulls, let us speak truth to all parties. Let us make clear what our Lord has revealed as good and what he has revealed as evil. Let us give voice to those without influence in our society. Let us just be the Church and not worry so much about aligning ourselves with one party or another. Surely such actions would be more profitable than the grumbling we often spend our time on now.