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The good life as a political agenda

Religion

Evangelical political conservatives over the last 30 years have fallen into an oppositional crankiness. Abortion stops a beating heart! (It does.) Two men don’t make a marriage! (They don’t.) Keep Christ in Christmas! (Obviously.) But the problem with the culture war is that we haven’t accomplished much, if anything. And for our efforts, too many people see Christianity as political and cultural nay-saying.

But the life to which Christ has redeemed us is a good life. It’s the life of incomparable joy and human flourishing, though also of trials and suffering. Biblical is better!

God made the world good, but it functions at its best for us only when we use it in particular ways. If you want to go beyond walking and running to flying, you have to observe and follow the created order as it pertains to aerodynamics. If you want to build not only with wood but also with strong, lightweight plastics, you have to figure out how God made oil to behave under different conditions.

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But God has given the world not only a physical but also a moral nature that, to be enjoyed, must be obeyed. Morally, some behaviors “work” better than others with a view to the good life, both for oneself and for a community as such. Christians may be more culturally preservative and even transformative if we focus on presenting that good life rhetorically as well as actively.

This leads first of all to a renewed focus on the life of the church as a biblically faithful and distinctly Christian corporate life. This goes beyond personal morality to how we live as a holy community, as the body of Christ. If your only relationship with people in your church is on Sunday mornings, that’s one of the first problems you need to address.

How is a distinctly Christian family a joyful nest for happy marriage and sweet, maturing children? People should ask you, “How do you do it?” You should be able to answer, “I don’t. Christ does it.”

How is a Christianly run business a better place to work? It should be obvious to your receptionist that her cheer and your godly management are closely associated. Your workers should greet any call to unionization with puzzled stares.

How is it life-enhancing when the love of a Christian community addresses the needs of the needy? The early church took in orphans. Today’s church can take in single mothers and wandering, fatherless young men. Christians can reduce government budget deficits by making government social action unnecessary.

There are believers and churches everywhere in this country crisscrossing economic classes, theological traditions, and ethnic backgrounds. It should not be difficult to make the beauty and goodness of Christ obvious.

Like any father’s watchful supervision of his children, God’s commands are for our good. It’s an American truism that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. The good life is a promising campaign.

D.C. Innes
D.C. Innes

D.C. is associate professor of politics at The King's College in New York City and co-author of Left, Right, and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Russell Media). Follow D.C. on Twitter @DCInnes1.

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