Cultural chains, no matter the culture, still need to be broken by Jesus for a person to find life.
In this last series of some thoughts on the Mark 5.1-20 story, I wanted to look briefly at the unchaining of the man. Jesus had liberated him from what really bound him, the demons. Broken shackles were strewn on the ground, signs of a life-gone-by.
Who had put the chains there? The culture did. They kicked him out of town. They deemed him too dangerous. They forced him to the place of the dead. They attempted on multiple fronts and multiple times to bind him. Neither conformity nor health was found in the chains.
That's a message to followers of Jesus Christ. I think we ought to be involved in the political process. I think we ought to vote, campaign, win elections, legislate, govern, judge and work through the political processes of our country to do what we can to reflect God's vision for life and values for life. But in doing so, the balancing factor for all of that effort is the picture of the chains lying on the ground. We have to have them lest we get too trusting in the political process to bring the Kingdom of God. All 435 representatives, 100 senators, 9 justices, and the whole Executive Branch could be evangelical followers of Jesus and the Kingdom of God still wouldn't come in America.
Before you say, "Of course not. That's just silly," think about evangelical political engagement over the past three decades. And if you're still not convinced, let me ask you this: why are evangelicals today more identified as a voting bloc with 2-3 key issues (abortion and homosexuality, in particular) rather than people stained by the cross of Jesus Christ who love others like He did?
The issue at hand is chains. Culture (whether evangelical or pagan) binds. We can legislate morality, but can't force people to be moral. We can implement ethical practices but can't cause people to be ethical in their business dealings, research, etc. Indeed, laws are meant to constrain. That's right and good. But the Kingdom comes in the human heart, not in societal laws.
That's why, for all the culture-transforming we could do from a political level, the individual neighbor, friend, family member and coworker would still need to be liberated from their chains, transformed at the level of the heart, and changed into the kind of person who will gladly be ethical, moral, holy, righteous, just, merciful, forgiving and loving because the King said that's the best way to live.
But that's just me thinking thoughts...