I never thought any expression would surpass the look of pity I received when I explained that I studied History, until I began studying Political Science. Currently, my favourite pass time is examining the expression of utter dread of some religious persons when I state my major. ‘So… you want to be a politician?’ is usually the next question which I believe is more for verification than an actual query, so that the final nail could be hammered into my coffin and shipped to the burning fires of gehenna.
I must say that I do feel like a hypocrite at times. In fact,that was the word running through my mind whilst listening to the brother deliver a talk on the bible’s viewpoint of world governments. Apparently, being involved in political affairs is considered to be ‘part of the world’, something that should never be used in describing true Christians. For some this is unimportant and maybe even untrue, I’m even sure that I might be scoffed by some of my colleagues for even considering such beliefs. However, my spiritual side is not satisfied with the words fed to me from the never ending pages of well researched academic papers. Yet, my academic side, revels in discussions of political economy and democracy. So…the question remains, am I simply being human, and satisfying my spiritual and academic needs or am I, to quote Matthew 6:24, ‘slaving for two masters’
Perhaps, if I lived some centuries ago, let’s say 15th century France, I would not feel divided by my two passions. At that point in this great democratic country’s history, political power fell in the hands of the monarch, who was believed to be chosen by God to lead. Church and state were one entity and for one to exist without the other was unimaginable! Or maybe, for those of us who are sensitive to overused examples of the colonizers past, we could go the indigenous route, and take a look at the Mayans. The Halach Uinic as he was called, was the chief religious and political leader. Religious ideals shaped political policy and spiritual leaders sat even higher on the pyramid than governmental officials. This was a fusion of worldly and spiritual power maintained by most human civilizations, for a very long time in history, until the inevitable happens…i.e change.
The church lost its position of divine ruler in most western countries. For reasons, that even the deepest spiritual persons should understand…the corruption and inequality of some religious bodies. Fast forward centuries later, and the church and state are completely divided into two separate autonomous halves. I believe, the legislation of abortions, prostitution and gambling were some of the first hits to this age old bond, but the most controversial has to be gay marriages. A phenomenon that I would describe as a great big slap in the face of the church.Yet, liberal democracy, the political theory that acts as a centre of gravity for our political ideals, is identified by the equal rights of the individual. So what is done in this situation as a politician? Do you keep to your Christian beliefs of the ungodliness of same sex unions or embrace the cries of members of your electorate for the same rights as heterosexuals? I think we know the answer of some of the nations around the world.
The struggle to maintain my Christian values, whilst respecting the ideals of political affairs, is simply…too real… to use the current terminology. On another hand, some have a black and white response ‘Never mix religion and politics’, in other words keep your beliefs from both spectrums divided and never compare nor contrast ideals and values. However, the book of Matthew warns of the danger of this, “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other’. Hence my reluctance to take the aforementioned advice. I do believe that at some point my conviction will lie more with one, than the other. Leaving me to feel like a hypocrite in a church service or a political convention. Nevertheless, now my faith lies with God and my studies come second. Perhaps this makes me a really bad political science student but I hope it makes me above all a better human being. In the meantime, ironically enough, there is one doctrine of the separation-of-church-and-state-clan that I live by, ‘Never Talk about Religion and Politics’ (Oh well, I tried).