In his newspaper column of March 14, Cal Thomas says "Conservative Evangelical Christian voters have come a long way in a short time." He goes on to tell how they have moved from their condemnation of Bill Clinton for his "extramarital affairs" to a readiness to accept Republican presidential candidates such as Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and others, whose sexual moral track records are right there alongside Clinton's.
He goes on to claim that the phenomenon is "a sign of their political maturation and of their more pragmatic view of what can be expected from politics and politicians."
Perhaps Cal is right. Or perhaps it is a sign that many on the religious right have been captured by the Republican party. Many saw this coming and now it's here. When conservative Christians began to make common cause with the Republican party, they seemed to believe that they could take control and have a political party that would espouse their moral and social causes. Instead, I believe, the opposite has happened. I hear many of my friends espousing Republican political views as though they were Christian, biblical, or moral views, and it appears that many can't tell the difference. We hear many evangelicals adding a "thus said the Lord" to political opinions that often have little, if any, moral value.
It seems that, to many evangelicals, to be a Christian is to be a Republican, and vice versa. At one time they found agreement with conservative political groups on clear moral issues, such as abortion. But that time appears to be past. Many of the prominent Republican leaders are as pro-abortion as most Democrats. Other political issues have taken on moral tones, and many political opinions have become as important as theological issues. Many seem more concerned about what one believes about global warming than what one believes about the Trinity. They seem more concerned about what one thinks about some political figure or radio talking head than what one thinks of Jesus Christ.
And as we evangelicals move farther in this direction our witness is compromised.
Over 65 years ago, C. S. Lewis in a brief essay entitled “Meditation on the Third Commandment,” dealt with a similar issue in England. Many Christians were advocating forming a unified Christian "party," or "front," or "platform," in politics. He warned of the same dangers we see today. He spoke of "...the temptation of claiming for our favorite opinions that kind and degree of certainty and authority which really belongs only to our Faith.......On those who add 'Thus said the Lord' to their merely human utterances descends the doom of a conscience which seems clearer and clearer the more it is loaded with sin. All this comes from pretending that God has spoken when He has not spoken."
The title of Lewis’ essay seems strange at first. He doesn’t even mention the third commandment. Is he implying that when we attempt to tie God’s Name to some political party we are taking His Name in vain?