The most popular man in American politics, these days, seems to be Jesus Christ. You can find Jesus’ stance on moral issues running rampant in nearly every evangelical church in America. Yes, I understand they don’t outwardly discuss politics (this would risk their status as a 501-c-3) but you would have to be completely oblivious if you didn’t get the veiled references. Piety runs as rampant in churches in inner city Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, as these rural evangelical churches. Yes, they rail about a different type of piety…racial discrimination, social injustice..the like. If you spent a Sunday in each of these churches, you might be forgiven for thinking that Jesus was different in one church than the other.
Cherry picking parts of the bible here and a little bit there, like your own political, biblical Chinese could bring you closer to being pious and political and further away from the will of God in being stewart of his creation. So often, I hear those saying they plan to “take Jesus into the voting booth with them”. If that is case, shouldn’t you know what God actually thinks about the way we are running our country now? In this article, I really hope to go through some major platforms and principals in both parties and match them up with scripture. If your faith does help shape your political leanings, lets talk a little bit about what that means.
Let’s just take the debate on the future of Medicare and Medicaid. Expensive programs, both. You hear the reports. Soon tax dollars will run out of the ability to keep either of these programs solvent. Our little experiment in open mindedness starts right here. If you are a ‘liberal’, the mere mention of these programs might have just sent you into a major defense of its social needs. If you are a ‘Conservative’ you might now be hoping I tell you that God came down from the Heavens to tell me that they are a waste of money. “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the word”-James 1:27. It seems to me that those who are sick, having babies, disabled and not able to work would meet God’s command above. Widows, orphans, those who are currently disabled…that seems pretty much what these programs do. This is not to say that if people are taking advantage of this benefit, it should be closed down or re-tooled to meet the criteria of God. Your biblical responsibility for those hurting is already built into biblical scripture. In the days of Christ, those who were unable to feed themselves lined up outside of the synagogue. Those who were coming to worship, were expected to give alms (money above and beyond your first fruits).
Yes, God’s heart for the poor and afflicted has been clear since the book of Exodus. From the time there was a law, God himself put certain safety nets into place to make sure that the ‘least of these’ knew his heart. However, before you think that this article is just another liberal laundry list understand this. Paul childes us “owe nothing, except to love one to another, for he who has love, has fulfillment in the law”-Romans 13:8. So, taking Paul’s commands into account, promising programs and running up massive new ‘debt’ to pay for them is not biblical at all! If you believe as a Christian that each penny is a gift and sacred trust from God, spending way more than you have violates this stewardship in nearly every way possible. Doing so because circumstances require it for a time is bad enough. Doing so willingly is not defensible biblically. So while there is some biblical precedent for programs that care for those who are in deep hardship, according to the same precedents we must also make the sacrifice and find a way to pay for them as we go.
Our Republican friends may also find it strange that both Jesus and Paul defended government structure and the need for taxes in the bible. “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs are due, fear to whom fear and honor to whom honor”. Remember, God himself established law in Exodus. He appointed certain men and even whole tribes (Levi was appointed to oversee the ‘tent of the meeting’) to oversee the responsibilities of carrying forward his law. Paying taxes to the government is odious. Particularly when you dislike what they are using the money that you are sending for purposes that you disagree with. I understand. I have strong personal political leanings that tilt conservative, however, what is in the bible, is in the bible. We are all entitled to our political leanings but because you believe something strongly does not mean that is what God believes too.
What about marriage? Folks this is when it gets tough. Personally, I don’t find it my business who you love. However, I didn’t write, nor did I inspire the bible. God’s word is God’s word. You cannot lean on his word when it comes to supporting the poor and needed programs but dismiss it as some antiquated reference guide when it comes to same sex marriage. I know this is going to be tough. We all know and love people who are in love with someone of the same sex. In Ephesians 5:22-31 Paul specifically addresses ‘wives and husbands’. Genesis 2:24 says “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be joined with his wife and the two will become one flesh”. I’ve often heard it said that ‘God created the heart and put love in my heart for the person I am with”. Sounds good to me but it’s not biblically true. From Genesis, God created man and then he created woman to be his help mate and partner. Our national constitution tells you that you are entitled to your own view on same sex marriage. You are entitled to fight for it, protest for it and you are entitled to vote for it. However, you cannot use the bible to justify it, as tough as it is for me to say.
When is life …life? This is an issue that is so difficult to gauge. There are so many passions on both sides and those passions are justifiable. There are people that go to the polls and vote solely on this issue. It’s like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. Many who are “pro-life” will not vote for a “pro-choice” candidate and vice versa. The last pro-choice Republican president was Gerald Ford (36 years ago) and the last pro-life Democrat president was John F. Kennedy (52 years ago). This is a debate that has been raging since Roe verses Wade in medical circles but, activist, this isn’t a debate at all in the bible. Job 31, Psalm 22, Psalm 131, Isaiah 44 and 49, Jeremiah 1 and Luke 1 all use the same language. They all say that you were formed by God “in the womb”. As tough of an issue as this is politically, there is no debate in scripture at all. God made you, God formed you from the time you were conceived until the time you die and on into eternity. However, those standing outside abortion clinics protesting or those that are creating violence against the doctors must take the time and read Romans 2. If you judge, you will be judged in like kind.
I have provided just some examples today of where the bible stands on the difficult positions of today. Both parties use Jesus in order to drive home points on where they are more pious then the other but like the old “Buffalo Springfield” song says…’Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong’. God is not a Republican or a Democrat. God is not a conservative or a liberal. God is…well God is God. Cherry picking the bible in order to make God into what we want him to be just doesn’t work and it makes us look like a fool. We speak in harshness, judgment and condemn each other. The truth is, there are parts of both party’s platforms that God would be pleased with, according to what we read about the teachings of Jesus. There are also parts of both party’s platforms God would chide us for supporting. He would remind us that while we are passionate about that issue, the passion comes from us and not from him.
We have a long way to go in our political discourse. However, if we can start by remembering that our lives should not conform to our passions but his will, we could turn down the heat and talk to each other as brothers and sisters, no matter what politics we support.