: Thanks to Carsonfire in the comments below, we read a most remarkable evangelical Christian editorial opposing attempts to extend FCC censorship to cable and satellite. It’s more than just tactical, political advice; it takes the evangelical imperative to say that such intereference is distracting and dangerous. Amen, brother. Jordan J. Ballor writes:
Such an unprecedented move speaks to the growing influence of evangelical Christian political activism. Indeed, some evangelicals have long supported huge increases in FCC fines and expanded powers for the governmental agency….
Christians should certainly be active participants in every facet of society, including politics. But Christian activists need to be wary of falling prey to the temptation to use political power to impose external standards of morality for a number of interconnected reasons.
First, there is a disturbing trend among American evangelicals to stress public exhibitions of virtue, often to the detriment of personal practice. The furor over the public displays of the 10 Commandments is one example, but the fight over broadcast decency has taken on a similar flavor.
For Christians, the significance of the new covenant means that it is more important that the law be written on our hearts than that it be displayed in our courtrooms. For Christian concern to be otherwise brings us under Jesusí condemnation of Pharisaical hypocrisy.
This truth flows into a second and closely related problem. Overzealous political activism poses a threat to the fundamental task of the church: proclamation of the gospel. Many criticize the relief efforts of nominally Christian groups, such as the National Council of Churches, which divorce evangelism and charitable work. But where Christians rightly decry such inconsistency in other quarters, we should also beware the temptation elsewhere to confuse or obscure the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
The gospel is not reducible to the institution of laws amenable to Christian morality.
Isn’t that wonderful? In short: You can’t legislate morality. You have to live morally.
And a disproportionate emphasis on such laws tends toward a position that is inimical to Christianity. Yet the perception often remains that the way the church is to ìengage cultureî is primarily, if not solely, through public policy.
Beyond these theological problems lies a prudential question of the wise use of political power. While Christians maintain the influence to form policy in a certain area, the laws are likely to remain in accord with Christian morality. The danger is that once the power of such regulation of speech and free expression has been ceded to the government, it is nearly impossible to get it back. And it is almost certain that the current season of Christian political influence will eventually wane.
Today perhaps the antics of a Howard Stern will be outlawed by increased governmental regulation. But tomorrow it may be that simply reading from Paulís letter to the Romans will be prohibited as hate speech, indecent or otherwise intolerant.
Couldn’t have preached it better myself.