Take Up Your Cross in Politics
It is no secret that our society is in the midst of incredible political turmoil, but today’s post is NOT about taking sides in politics. Quite the opposite actually. As you know, I do my best to remain outside of politics unless such topics have a direct impact on the Orthodox Church. As part of our Daily Lenten Journey, I want to challenge you to take up your cross in politics, but I doubt it is in the way you might imagine.
When it comes to American politics, the US Constitution has established a system to protect the rights of every member of our society. The system might not be perfect, but as designed, the system acts very slowly to avoid either rash decisions, or the constant swinging of what I call the political pendulum. I’m not talking today about whether or not certain rights should or should not be legal in our society. The system is designed to answer that legal question. I’m talking about how we as Orthodox Christian coexist in our American society when those legal decisions are not in keeping with our Orthodox morals.
For many decades, our national moral codes and even many of our laws, supported the moral position of the Church, but times are changing. More and more the legal moral codes of our society no longer support our Orthodox thinking, so how are we as Orthodox to behave in such a society? We take up our cross.
The cross represents more than just suffering. It represents accepting the reality around us that we live in a fallen world. Jesus Christ took up His cross to save the fallen world, and we are called to do the same. In politics, at least in American politics, it means accepting that our voice is one of many. It means that as laws are debated and votes are cast, our voice is not the only influence. Sometimes votes “go our way” and at other times we find ourselves on the “losing end” of the debate.
When we lose, and we will lose more and more in the future I suspect, we must take up our cross and accept that the society has spoken. Moral codes change, but we must not change with them. Taking up our cross in politics also means standing fast to the morals of the Church even when the society is not in agreement.
What happens next is what will matter. When Christ took up His Cross, society mocked Him waging their fingers at Him. “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” (Matthew 27.12) He quietly accepted His cross as an act of love for us, and for those who mocked Him. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23.34) This should be our prayer when our society passes laws that go against God and the Church. When we take up our cross, we are asking God to forgive them, not smite them.
Recall the first century Christians who lived in a society that was much more against the Church than our current American society. They quietly took up their cross, prayed for their neighbors and through loved influenced others to join them on the road to salvation. If you love your neighbors, take up your cross in politics, and pray for them. Don’t try to beat them into submission.