Monday, October 27, 2008

let's get political, political...

*DISCLAIMER: What you are about to read is political. I needed a space to vent some thoughts about the election. If you came here to read about Maddie and don't want to hear politics, feel free to skip this post. But come back later for more Maddie goodness! :)

I've been thinking a lot lately about the election, my own beliefs, the portrayal of right-leaning Christians in the media, and the Bible's teachings. It frustrates me that many conservative Christians vote a republican ticket based on a few core values, mostly having to due with abortion rights and the family, allowing their views (and the Bible's teachings) on these issues to trump a multitude of others. 

No single political candidate, republican, democratic, green or independent, will ever embody all the values of Jesus Christ, the only perfect person ever to walk this earth. No party can adhere to every teaching of the Bible. No bill or law can ever perfectly follow God's way. All of this is because as humans, we will never measure up to the perfection of God. But we MUST carefully consider all issues individually, each platform on its own merit, as we cast our votes for the leaders of this country. Sometimes that will mean voting republican, other times democrat.

In this presidential election, I can't stop thinking of the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus is approached by a lawyer (aka an expert in Religious Law, aka OT Religious Scholar). He asks how he can attain eternal life. Jesus allows him to answer his own question, to which he replies "Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself." But taking it further, the man tests Jesus with another question, "But who is my neighbor?" 

Jesus tells the story of a Jewish man who is beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. A Jewish priest and a Levite (Jewish temple caretaker) both passed him by. A Samaritan (non-Jew) stops, tends to the man's wounds, loads him on his donkey, and takes him to an inn, where he pays to have him put up until he feels better. 

I once read a present-day example of this story told like so: A Christian man is beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of the road. First, a Christian pastor on his way to church sees him and hurries by on the opposite side of the road. Next, a worship pastor, also on his way to church, passes by. Who stops to take care of the Christian man? An ultra-liberal, politically active homosexual.
The point is that in Jesus' time, the Samaritans were in every way the opposite of the Jews and were despised by them. Who acted as a neighbor? The Samaritan, the very person who was supposed to be enemies with the Jew. This would have outraged the audience listening to Jesus. But what he was getting at is that to love our neighbor as our self is to treat everyone as we would want to be treated, if we were in their shoes, regardless of how they got there, regardless of who they are.

All that to say, are republicans in general looking out for the welfare of others, to be treated as they themselves would like? Not in terms of economic or welfare policy. Republican leaders typically give tax cuts to the rich while the poor continue to get poorer. "Every man for himself" is not a phrase you would have heard Jesus use. Republican politicians typically are opposed to universal health care, that is, medical care that is available and affordable to everyone, regardless of who they are, how much money they make, young or old, working or not, or whether or not they are here legally. 

We are at war. We have a completely strained relationship with the rest of the world, with world leaders, with very dangerous people who have access to very dangerous weapons. This has to change. We need to re-establish trust with the world. If Bush's dangerous regime is continued to be carried out in the Middle East, our enemies will only grow stronger.

I believe in my heart of hearts that Jesus would have been pro-family. He would have cried at the outrage of abortion and the loss of so many innocent lives. He also would have cried at the injustice of death sentences being carried out on innocent people by a flawed justice system. He would have spoken out against treating immigrants differently than our own citizens.  Jesus would have loved homosexuals in spite of their sin, embracing them first with his love, never starting with judgment, and through his unconditional love and acceptance would gently guide them into repentance and a right relationship with him. Jesus would have spoken against tax cuts for the wealthy, preferring that people pool their resources and divide them more equally so as to take care of the down and out.

There are so many issues that fall on both sides of the spectrum. While Barack Obama is far from perfect, in my mind the issues he is in favor of (health care, education, withdrawal of troops, redistribution of income) trump the others in this election. 

For more reading, I suggest "God's Politics" by Jim Wallis, the clearest and most thoughtful writing by a Christian on politics and truth that I've ever found. Also,


mel said...

great post becky! i totally agree with what you wrote. i usually vote republican, but i just can't for this election. the articles you posted confirmed my vote!

Melody said...

Amen Becky! I think the most difficult part of this (very long) election process has been the way that Christians have allowed it to polarize our communities. We miss out on meaningfull discussions because we allow them to break down into fights over a few issues instead of the bigger picture.

I would also suggest that you take a look at I've been part of it for a little while now and it has really helped me focus on understanding a Biblical Worldview.

All the best!

bonnieb said...

Dear Becky,
I am so proud of you for speaking out when there is so much confusion and controversy out there before this election takes place. I have been impressed with Barak Obama's heart for the poor since I read about his days after college as a community organizer helping the poor gain a voice to improve their lives. You have a heart for the poor that has warmed my heart ever since I met you. Thank you for expressing yourself so eloquently. love, tutu

Ryan said...

I just found your blog, and this post in particular, and I am thankful to hear so a clear elucidation of so many of my feelings. Just before the election an old friend from Malibu questioned how I could possibly vote for Obama in light of his stance on abortion. I'm afraid we were two ships passing in the night--in hindsight, I would have just sent her a link to your post. Thanks for your thoughts, and give a big hug to Ben for me.
Ryan (Calkins)