Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is famous for developing her five-stage model for grieving loss. Those stages are:
- Denial and isolation
I want to encourage my fellow conservatives, and conservative Christian friends to move through the stages quickly so that we can recommit to making a positive difference. Personally, I am somewhere between Anger and Depression right now. Denial and Bargaining won’t get us anywhere, since we’re stuck with the results we’ve got.
So let me articulate the vision that I am focusing on in order to move past the perceived doom of the current election results.
1. The change starts with me
It is human nature to see the problem outside of ourselves, when really, our first and greatest responsibility and opportunity is to exercise control over the one thing we have rightful and full control over – ourselves.
I need to become better. I need to become ‘the change I want to see in the world’ (Ghandi). I can do whatever I want with myself! So let me start with that foundation.
For my Christian friends, let us also remember that first and foremost, our satisfaction, personal growth, and success are all founded on our intimacy and time spent alone with God. If you gain the outside world but ignore and lose this inner world, what have you gained? Even the great Apostle Paul wrote:
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:27
Bringing myself to the place of prayer and closing the door to the outside is a tough but necessary discipline, one that we all fail at. I am not just reminding you, but myself as well. Let’s do it!
2. My family is the next larger circle I must influence
If you are a parent, your next sphere of influence (a.k.a. Sphere of Government) is your family – the responsibility, privilege, and opportunity of having a healthy marriage and children is the greatest one in the world!
The nuclear family is the foundation of a healthy society. Healthy marriages make for happy, industrious, healthy people (did you know that both men and women live longer if in a stable marriage?).
And good marriages, with children instructed in the virtues of chastity, industry, tolerance, patience, generosity, and fidelity to commitments is the foundation of any society. Lack those and NO amount of legislation or government can save you.
That’s why, for example, government efforts at eradicating poverty have had only measured success – because the primary problem is a moral one – a lack of faithful, industrious, and chaste men (and women). When, for example, more than 70% of African American children are born out of wedlock, do you think that these children growing up in broken homes can really be happy and healthy without a change to the behavior of their parents, especially their fathers?
Let us consciously focus more energy where we already have influence and responsibility – arguably the most important human endeavor of all – our families.
3. The Church is the avenue of salvation, not the government
Why is it that we spend so much emotional capital and time on elections, but spend so little on our Churches?
a. Our churches don’t really contribute much to our communities
It’s a sad fact that, while evangelical churches are very active in our communities compared to other voluntary organizations, we are still largely a population that comes to church once a week, listens to a lecture, then goes home.
We should be less organized around passive learning, and more organized around participatory learning, service, and evangelism.
b. We forget what true salvation is
In this world, science and politics are powerful and important avenues for ensuring human well being. But let’s remember that you can ‘gain the whole world but lose your soul.’ And I don’t mean just ‘not go to heaven.’ I mean place your inner well being and hope in the temporal things of this world – power, position, pleasure, possessions.
And there is little hope for redemption or meaning in suffering in a purely material, non-spiritual view of the world. As atheist Richard Dawkins has said
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference. ~ “God’s Utility Function“, Scientific American: 85, November 1995
The gospel offers an experience of the loving, healing, transforming God in a real relationship in this life, not just the future. And a hope for full redemption of the pains of this life in the next.
c. We forget the importance of the Church in God’s plan.
The Church is the essential vehicle for delivering the work and message of God, bringing people into healing relationships, and displaying the power of God to overcome our own hopelessness and hate in this life. Not just nice Christian individuals, but healing communities. The gospel is displayed in loving communities, which is what our churches are supposed to be.
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~ Jesus in John 13:35
To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places… ~ Ephesians 3:10
Ultimately, government can only provide a societal framework in which the agents of moral change, in Christian context, the Church, can create virtuous citizens. And ultimately, this is the primary work of most Christians – not reforming government, but being committed to and participating in a healthy Church.
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~ John Adams
4. Four years goes by fast, and we need to continue to participate in public arenas
While the impact of a four year presidency can last well beyond those four years, so can the influence of the NEXT administration. Towards that end, we conservatives need to focus on doing a better job of developing just, appealing, and reasoned public policies, convincing the public, and ethically playing the ‘game’ of politics. That’s the American way.
I share the disappointment, sense of foreboding concerning our future, and frustration with the freedom-stealing potential of the Euro-socialist policies of the current administration.
But beyond name calling, building a storm cellar with food and guns, and retreating to our vices, let’s commit to being better people, better families, better churches, and better citizens.
Be the change you want to see.