Should American Foreign Policy Project Christian Values or Protect Christian Lives?
The Story: At the recent Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) claimed that America has a moral responsibility to project Christian values while Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the United States is effectively funding wars on Christianity by sending money to nations like Egypt and Syria.
The Background: On Thursday, Sen. Paul said, "It's clear that American taxpayer dollars are being used in a war against Christianity." Paul said the U.S. war in Iraq led Christians to flee a secular country that had otherwise been "a relatively safe place for Christians," and that Christians are now being hunted in nearby nations like Syria. "These countries are not our allies, and no amount of money is going to make them so," Paul said. "It makes no sense. Should we be sending F-16s and tanks to Egypt when (President Mohammed) Morsi says Jews are descendants of apes and pigs?"
Sen. Rubio took a different approach, referring to Matthew 5, in which God calls upon his people to be a light in the world. Rubio said, "If America's light is extinguished, there is no other light. We are called not to hide our light but to shine it. If we lose the will ... there is nothing to replace us."
"This call for us to silent ourselves and stop speaking about the values we know work is a big mistake," Rubio said.
"If we're encouraged to be silent ... then who will say it instead of us?" he said. "Who will be the salt if we are not the salt?"
Why It Matters: If our options are these two choices—protecting Christians or promoting Christian values—which should we choose? While Christians may differ on the question—and some will claim we should choose neither—it seems the morally responsible answer is that we should choose both.
Some Christians in America believe, as do most secularists, that religious belief has no role to play in shaping foreign policy. But since all politics is rooted in religious presuppositions, all policies are shaped by some form of religious belief. It hardly seems wise for Christians to adopt the preferences of secularism rather than give credence to the commands of Christ. Foreign policy is merely an extension of the same principles that should drive our domestic policy—a God-impelled love of neighbor.
Sen. Rubio is right that whenever possible we should promote Christian values such as justice, mercy, and religious tolerance. But one of the values that should take precedence is protection of the innocent, particularly when they are members of the institution that commands our primary political allegiance—the body of Christ.
When it comes to actions that affect our brothers and sisters across the globe, a guiding concern should be primum non nocere, "first, do no harm." That can't be our only consideration, of course, but it should be given due weight. We should be particularly wary of allowing some vague "national interest" trump our "familial interest," especially when it leads to the displacement and slaughter of Christians around the globe.
How such policies should be shaped is a difficult question and requires considerable prudence. But one of our duties as American citizens is to lobby for policies we think are moral and just. That duty does not end at our shorelines but extends to the lands of our brothers and sisters who we will not see until we are together in our final home.