That Time I Wanted to Yell at a Pastor

October 27
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I have a confession: I got mad at a pastor this week.

Family Policy Alliance of Kansas is working with a coalition of pro-life, pro-family groups on new legislation that will protect the right of faith-based adoption and foster care service providers to contract with the state of Kansas to help kids in need. Sadly, these legal protections have become necessary after several states passed laws banning contractors whose work is guided by faith.

As part of our planning, we sought testimonies from people who have adopted or fostered through a faith-based service. I was introduced to one local pastor and invited him to participate.

He said no. “We don’t want to be political,” he explained.

My blood pressure spiked. I wanted to email him back and ask, “WHAT KIND OF PASTOR CARES MORE ABOUT AVOIDING POLITICS THAN HELPING KIDS WHO NEED A FAMILY?”

Thankfully, I didn’t let my frustration get the best of me; but I didn’t let it go, either. After some time, I wrote back:

I understand why you feel reluctant to get involved in the political realm. You and I don’t know each other, but I sense we share a common concern. In my view, too often the Church’s witness has been compromised by a misplaced focus on the power of politics to bring about social change rather than the power of the Gospel to enact change in the hearts of men.

I say that as someone who works in public policy and politics! So, why do this work?

Jeremiah wrote to the Jews in exile and instructed them to “seek the welfare of the city in which they live, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7). Jesus’ call to love our neighbor as we love ourselves bears witness to this same principle. As Christians, we understand our role as agents of renewal. Our faith isn’t merely focused on the “Kingdom come,” but on bringing light to this world, now.

Politics and policy isn’t the only way to do this, but it’s one way. Our laws will either be rooted in and reflective of God’s created order and His wisdom or not. Where they are, by common grace we can expect flourishing; where they aren’t, we expect calamity. We see evidence of this all around us.

Nothing provides more support of the principle than the family. Where families are honored and upheld, children tend to flourish and communities, too. Where divorce, infidelity, abuse and other ills prevail, the people suffer. So, it is love for others that compels us to vie for the family.

My hope is that adoption and foster care will be a nonpartisan issue. In a saner world, we could all agree that helping kids is more important than whatever policy disagreements might divide us. Sadly, there are those who would drive others out of the business of helping kids because their sexual politics are their priority.

Our project aims to say kids matter most. The diverse coalition of groups behind the effort doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. If you understand that sexual politics shouldn’t get in the way of helping kids in need, we will work with you.

I hope this explanation clarifies what we are about and that you will reconsider your answer. But, if not, thank you anyway. We will proceed and, hopefully, more families will be allowed to have the experience you had.

Many believers share the opinion of the pastor. They don’t want to get involved in politics. My mission – the reason I’m so excited and honored to work at Family Policy Alliance of Kansas – is to meet them where they are and find some way to convince them of the necessity of engagement.

Did my email work? Not yet. Maybe it won’t. Whatever the case, I’ll keep trying. Thank you for being with me in the fight.

Sincerely,

Eric Teetsel
President and Executive Director
Family Policy Alliance of Kansas

P.S. As we near the Christmas season (can you believe it?) you may be looking at making year-end charitable gifts. Tax-deductible gifts to our sister organization Family Policy Foundation of Kansas are a great way to fulfill that desire!