Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Things of Heaven...Stuff of Earth

The whole sorry tale of Maurice Clemmons and his life of destruction has led me to think a lot about Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor is getting his share of blame for allowing Clemmons to walk free. Most of the political bloggers that I follow tend to view his road to the presidency as kaput.

Now I don't really like Huckabee's views on various issues. But right now, I feel sorry for man. Because while he made a big mistake in releasing an animal like Clemmons into the public, I think he did it for the right reasons.

What is interesting right now is how some tend think that relying on religious beliefs while in office is somehow dangerous. While one should rely on all aspects of knowledge, to say that a politician must not be informed by their faith is ludicrious. Christianity, and any other religion for that matter, is a worldview that informs all parts of an adherent's life. It is impossible to say that religious views be kept somewhere on the coat rack of life while we live our lives. For any adherent, it is the fabric of life.

Religion informs people's choices on all sorts of matters. Many of my liberal friends who support universal health care do so for religious reasons. Same goes for those who oppose abortion or war. The problem isn't that we have these views, the problem lies in how they are used.

The case of Clemmons poses hard questions because it strikes at the heart of something that both Huckabee and I strongly believe in: redemption. The belief that people can change their ways and live right, to turn away from wrong is at the heart of Christianity. We are taught of a loving God who cared for us even when we did wrong and compels us to live righteous lives. For a Christian, it is not enough that the we believe this, it is something that must be lived out, just as we believe Jesus did when on earth.

When Huckabee pardoned Clemmons, I have to believe he did it because he truly believed Clemmons' sob story of having changed. He wanted to live out his faith and he believed this man had been redeemed.

That's of course, the danger here. We try to live as followers of Christ in an imperfect world. We try to show love and mercy to a fellow human being and he in turn kills four cops who were just trying to get some paperwork done.

So what do we do? Some bloggers say simply that Huckabee should have simply thrown away the key. He should have known better. Once a skunk, always a skunk.

Maybe a future politician will do what many politicians do and ignore their religious beliefs and keep more felons in prison and maybe even execute a few to show the public he/she means business.

The citizen in me says just that: lock 'em up. But the pastor in me, the one who wants to try to live as Jesus did, wonders if doing that is the right thing. The pastor wonders if everyone that asks for mercy is a snake, or if some really are wanting to make a change for the better.

Joe Carter, in his excellent post about Huckabee muses that the governor was naieve. Maybe so, but isn't Christianity at its root somewhat naieve? It preaches love in a world filled with hate. It's hardly a rational faith.

The problem for all Christians, and maybe for everyone who has a faith is knowing when to as the Bible says, be wise as serpents and when to be innocent as doves. When can we allow for heaven to break through on earth, and when to realize that heaven is not here yet.

It's a problem I wish pastors dealt with more. Because while we want to have some heaven here on earth, we live in this world filled with grays. How do we strive to be a loving a forgiving people in a world of Maurice Clemmonses?

What has been frustrating to me is that few if any religious blogs are talking about this issue. I have searched and searched and found none at all. I find that amazing. Maybe we don't want to admit that this is hard issue. But it would be honest.

Mike Huckabee made the moral choice in wanting to give someone a second chance. But in this case, it was not the right choice and four dead police offers are the result.

1 comment:

Paul Wartenberg said...

Huckabee may have made a moral choice based on his Christian faith, but all this underscores is how Christian faith should not mix with secular matters such as governing, making legal decisions, and upholding the law and safety of others.

There are very good reasons for the rules regarding Separation of Church and State (something even Christ supported: Render unto Caesar's what is Caesar's, after all). This is one of them: a person's faith should not be the primary method or source of political decision making, as it will run against more pragmatic secular concerns.

I can't fault the man's faith: I can fault him for using it for political matters.