26 May 2010 (Revee/Shavu'ot)|
Day #72, 5934 AM
A Voice in the World
Believers in the Political Arena
Once in my life I was a highly political animal. But then I had a rosey view of the world. As I began to realise how utterly corrupt the political scene was (especially party politics), and probably always had been and always would be, I completely distanced myself from it and advised other believers to do the same. That is still my default mode. There are, however, times when we may be forced to step into it from time to time defend basic freedoms.
This has happened to me in the homeschooling wars that are being fought in my current country of residence where a totalitarian political mindset, reinforced by years of conformist socialism, decided that all homeschoolers should become criminals. I came out of the political closet and began to speak loudly and forcefully. Not only am I defending myself and other believers but people from every religious and non-religious background who also believe in homeschooling. We are simply not criminals and no petty fascist is ever going to tell us that we are.
As a result of this sudden dehibernation I have been forced to re-examine the 'field', as it were, in which politics operates, and to define the boundaries for a Christian operating in it. You can't enter the political field wearing the hat of a minister because it is an entirely different field to that of the Gospel. It operates under a different set of rules. So I asked myself this question: 'I am defending the liberty to homeschool. If I am to be consistent in claiming rights to liberty, then I must be able to extend it to all areas of life in the secular realm. And if I do that, what liberties should I be defending?'
This has meant my crystalising out the Arminian, anti-Calvinist theology that I ahere to when it comes to free will. I believe, absolutely, that Yahweh has given us freedom of choice. He does not force us to follow Him, ever. We are genuine free-agents and we must therefore defend the right of others to make choices that we do not necessarily like, even wicked ones, just as He does. If we try to force non-believers to conform to a particular lifestyle then we are denying them what God has given them de facto as a result of being born here. So what is my position to be in the political arena which is highly secular and largely anti-Christian? I believe that to have a clear conscience in the matter of free agency we must essentially adopt this position of the philosopher John Stuart Mill who said:
In the spiritual realm, as we know, the choice is between Yahweh and Satan, and one or the other is sovereign over a soul. However that is not what we are talking about here. This is the right to make a choice one way or the other irrespective of what you call it and irrespective of whether or not you even believe in a God.
"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others,, to do so would be wise, or even right...The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign".
Earlier this year I was challenged to write a book on education that did not mention God at all. Personally I did not find that very difficult since I knew the principles I was defending and whence they came from. And a surprising number of atheists were actually in agreement. The love of liberty is something that we are born with. We instinctively know it. And if we ever meet God, we discovere that he is the one who placed it there and gave us this free gift. Why? Because the only authentic love is love freely given and not compelled.
When the Swedish government kidnapped the young son - Domenic - of the Johansson family and placed him in care just because his family was homeschooling him (he has been separated from his parents for a year now and they are only allowed to visit him once every five weeks for one hour) I knew that I absolutely had to defend theit freedom. And this was while homeschooling was (and is) still legal. This was evil. This was tyrrany. This was fascism. Being silent was no longer an option. If they can do it to one family that could do it to all of us. We had to fight. And we had to fight not just for the right of the individual to live his life as he sees fit but to fight for the family too. That's something else that's built-in, placed there by Yahweh-Elohim.
Though I am now involved in the political fray for a season I am still totally and absolutely trusting in my Heavenly Father to make the difference for the Johansson family, my family and every homeschooling family in Sweden and the whole world. Suddenly the Johanssons have become my family and all homeschooling families have become my family too. How interesting is that! For it shows that there is not only the Household of Faith but also the Household of all People - Yahweh's own children, whether they recognise Him as God or not.
Then I realised that I was a humanist - not the secular variety which rejects God - but the variety who worships Him with my whole might and strength. Suddenly love spilled over the wall of my Torah Garden and into the vast world beyond. And that, I think, is a wonderful blessing.