I first heard about this book when I was with one of my lady friends watching late night television (the sort that you don't actually watch, but rather have on in the background while you talk about absolutely nothing in particular and are drinking some form of alcoholic beverage). Anyway, this friend of mine particularly hated Christians (with the exception of me, because she thought that I actually gave Christianity a good name, or at least until we had a falling out, and then I became like all the other Christians out there) and as we listened to Jim Wallis advertise his book, she simply thought that he was reciting tired old dogma, where as to me he was beginning to take a new position on Christianity.
Anyway, when I did read the book what struck me the most was not so much about which political party is the most Christian, or which party Christians should vote for, but how God's politics is actually above and separated from the politics of both Republicans and Democracts (or for Australians the Liberals and Labor). As the subtitle of his book says: why the Republicans got it wrong, and why the Democrats don't get it. This is what I think is essential when we understand how we as Christians should interact with the political world: understanding that God is neither Republican or Democrat, nor Liberal or Labour, left wing or right wing, but he is God and his politics are not that which concern either side, but rather what concern him and how we are living our lives as representatives of his church.
It is a shame that in many cases we have Christians drifting towards either party, and playing the political game of brinkmanship, and even using politics as a way to put down and harass their brother's in Christ. We must remember that when the Emperor Theodosius attempted to muscle his way into the communion service during the later Roman Empire the priest pretty much drew a line and made it clear that the political sphere was not to trespass into the spiritual realm, meaning that politicians were not to use the church or Christianity to forward their own political agendas.
Mind you, I don't necessarily agree with everything that Wallis says, particularly with his position on homosexuality. Now, that does not mean that we should be locking homosexuals up, or even persecuting them, but also we should not be compromising ourselves in relation to rewriting the bible in relation to that practice. While it is not my position to judge homosexuals (that is God's position and I am not God) if a church has made a stance where they will not allow homosexual priests, or refuse to participate in homosexual marriages, then we should not force them otherwise. It is the same with regards to homosexual members of the congregation that are going out of their way to promote their agenda within a particular church. In a way, if somebody can get sacked for actively and aggressively promoting their religion in the workplace, then the same goes for homosexuals in a church that is determined to maintain their heterosexual identity.
The other hot potato involves abortion, and while I am a big supporter of the rights of the unborn, I am also a big supporter of the rights of women. This is an issue that I have canvassed before, and I feel that I should touch upon this again in relation to this book: in a promiscuous society, the victim always turns out to be the woman. It is not that abortion is being used as a form of contraception, it is because the system is preventing other forms of contraception from being available and thus exposing women to that risk. The idea is that if we ban contraception,then people will not have sex. Well, that is not true, and in fact we find that in many African countries where aids is spreading out of control, the simple solution of allowing contraception to be available is being denied on the grounds that it only encourages sex.
Look, teenagers will have sex, and even if you spend countless hours telling them why they shouldn't have sex, they will still go and have sex. In fact, by telling people that they shouldn't have sex because it is a beautiful thing that is left only until marriage will only encourage them to have sex. In fact it also goes to create marriages that are not based upon the biblical concept, which is the sharing of a life with both parties work together for the common good of humanity, but rather it is simply an excuse to have sex, and a lot of it (which is not a bad thing). However the actual basis of the marriage does not exist and is not stable and this leads to adulterous affairs and even divorce.
Then there is the aspect of the single mother who is victimised in more way than one. First of all, without the supportive husband, the woman and the child are both thrust into poverty, and once there it is impossible (or very difficult) to escape. Okay, that is not necessarily grounds for divorce, but once again the woman (and the child) are punished while the male gets away scott free. This can be solved by making contraception more readily available, but with the slogan: if it is not on, then it is not on. Remember this though, just because abortion is banned, an unwanted pregnancy is not going to magically become a wanted pregnancy.