So What's This All About?

In case you didn't know, I'm in the multi-year-long process of posting a Christian devotional at the TAWG Blog. The TAWG Blog is, and always will be, mostly apolitical. For the most part, Bible-believing Christians will find little to disagree with there. But I also firmly believe that God's word can--and should--inform everything in life, and this should include politics and popular culture. How should we vote? How should we respond to hot topics such as abortion, capital punishment, taxes, and other issues? Which party, if either, is closer to the Biblical ideal? Tony Campolo and Ron Sider, Evangelicals whose political leanings are on the Left, have made the case in several of their writings that God wants his followers to vote politically on the Left more than on the Right. At times, some of them have gone so far as to equate voting on the Left with obedience to Christ, either subtly or not-so-subtly contending that the converse is true as well: If you vote Republican, you're sinning against the Savior.
I don't agree. I think that to the degree they actually resort to the Bible, they're misinterpreting it. With a whole bunch of caveats, I think politically conservative positions are a lot more compatible with the Scriptures than the Leftist positions.
Just to clarify, I would never accuse people who disagree with me--especially siblings in Christ--of what they accuse me of. I don't judge my own heart, much less anyone else's, and I don't equate political disagreement with theological fidelity to God. I have no reason to doubt their love for the Lord and "for the least of these," but I believe that they're sincerely wrong.
So there are two main purposes for this blog. One is to make a case for my political beliefs based on Scripture. The other is a bit more vague, basically to work out my political beliefs and figure out what's based on Scripture and what's based on my own biases. I certainly don't have all the answers. Some of this stuff I'm still figuring out. And I'm certainly open to correction. As long as you make your case civilly and based on Scripture, feel free to make a comment, and I promise I'll post it and consider your arguments thoughtfully and prayerfully. Who knows? Maybe we'll learn a little something from each other.
May God bless our common striving together towards both the "little t" truth and "Big T" Truth. Our watchword here is a line from C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle: "Further up and further in!"

P.S. -- Below on the left is "Topics I've Covered" which lists everything I've posted topically. It's come to my attention that some people would like to see everything just listed for them. If that's you, you can get it here. Thanks to my friend Stephen Young for the tip!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"We're Not Republicans Or Democrats"

            A couple of weeks ago I attended a men’s conference with my church. I had a blast, even though I was convicted at times by my intermittent lack of leadership in my home. I try—I really do—to be the man of God and leader in my home that I’m called to be. My wife assures me that while I’m not perfect, I’m improving. I’m not what I’m supposed to be, but I’m not what I used to be, and thank the Lord I’m not what I will be.
            I bring this up to touch upon a throwaway line which one of the speakers happened to mention. He was calling for unity in the Body of Christ, and he said “We’re not Republicans or Democrats, we’re not white or black, etc.” He didn’t elaborate on what he said, so I had to infer what he was referring to. I’m not even really focusing on him as a speaker, but what I’d like to do is use his throwaway line as a springboard. Since I’ve heard this type of call before, it deserves some closer examination.
            What do people usually mean when they say “We’re not Republicans or Democrats?” As best as I can determine, in settings like this, it’s a call for unity in the Church which transcends politics. We’re supposed to put aside our differences and worship and work together as believers.
            Well, I think it all depends on what you mean by “differences.” If you mean racial differences, well then of course we need to be colorblind in the Body of Christ. Actually, as far as I’m concerned, to pay any attention to anyone’s skin pigmentation deserves all the contempt it gets. And when it comes to economic levels, we’re also one in the Body of Christ. Your worth as someone created in God’s image--much less your value as a redeemed child of God--isn’t determined by how much wealth you have, nor should your wealth determine how you're treated in the Body.
            But when it comes to political differences, that bears closer examination. Before we get into what I do mean, let me try to prevent some misunderstanding by making clear what I don’t mean:

·         Of course we shouldn’t let minor political differences cause division in the Body. If you don’t believe that we should’ve gone into Iraq, I can understand that. There’s a good case to be made that we shouldn’t have gone in, or that we should’ve done it a different way, or that we should’ve pulled out before now. I can respect that. If you believe that taxes should be at X% and I believe that they should be at Y%, that’s a friendly disagreement we can have.

·         And of course we can’t let any political differences blind us to the main purpose of the Bible and of the Church: Bringing people into—and maintaining—a personal relationship with God. That’s the main purpose of both the Scriptures and the Body. Right after that main purpose—and as a corollary to it—is loving people. I’ve said this before, and I’ll repeat it for emphasis: There’s nothing on this blog which is as important as the stuff I talk about on the TAWG Blog. There’s little or nothing here of direct eternal significance, especially compared to the stuff on the other blog.

            Having said that, here’s my problem with what the speaker mentioned. For the next few minutes, and on my drive home, here was my internal response:
            Brother, I love you. I’d gladly take a bullet for you. I’m sure that I have so much to learn from you. But do you really mean that there’s no meaningful difference between the two parties at all? Are you claiming that either party is an equally valid choice for Christians, assuming they're politically involved at all? 
            How about abortion? Let’s be completely frank here, shall we? There are two viable political parties in the U.S. at this time. And right now, there’s only one of them that cares about the preborn at all. The President of the Unites States, the official head of his party, just celebrated the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Here’s his official statement: 

            There was a time in which another President of this same party said that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Well, he might've made some type of effort to keep it “safe” and he certainly went all-out to keep it legal, but his commitment to make it “rare,” to actually reduce it, seemed a bit less stalwart. But at least he paid some sort of lip service to concerns on the other side. That’s gone. This is the Democratic Party of today. There might be individual Democrats in local settings who are actually Pro-Life, but the party they’ve chosen to align themselves with is adamantly opposed to any legal protection for the preborn. And on the national scene, any truly Pro-Life Democrats are pretty much nonexistent at this stage.
            Or how about the attitude towards homosexuality? Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the Democratic Party has wholeheartedly embraced every single aspect of the “Gay Agenda”? Is there anyone in that Party who doesn’t believe in changing the legal definition of marriage, who doesn’t promote the destructive lie that same-sex “marriage” is just as legitimate as heterosexual marriage, and who doesn't claim that it deserves to be treated the same in the eyes of the law? If there’s one person in the Party on the national scene who actually has any type of influence who disagrees with this, I’d love to hear about them.
            I can just hear a Christian from the other side reply: “But what about the Republicans? There are lots of them who support same-sex marriage. And there are ‘Pro-Choice’ Repubs too!” Absolutely. And that’s where we need to be involved in the primary process. But my friend, if abortion is a deciding issue for you, there’s only one party where you have a chance of making your voice heard. If you hold to the Biblical viewpoint on homosexuality, well, to be honest, then you and I are going to be part of an ever-dwindling minority. But if keeping to a Biblical view on marriage is a deal-maker or deal-breaker for you, there’s only one place for you to go politically. I’d love to be proven wrong on this, but as the old saying goes, “I gotta calls ‘em as I see ‘em.” The Republican Party is the only one out of the two viable parties (and by that I mean actually able to win any elections) on which the Biblical viewpoint has any chance of being heard.  
            “But what about taxes? I believe that the best way to help people in need is for the government to be more involved, and that means higher taxes on the rich. The Republicans are the part of the rich, and the Democrats are the party of the poor and for those who can’t help themselves.” I really disagree with that depiction of the relative parties, but let’s just stipulate it for the sake of argument. How important is this to you? Are the levels of taxation more important to you than protecting the preborn? I know you want to help the poor; I do too. We just disagree on the best way to help them. We can have that debate. But in the meantime, the party that you’ve chosen to align yourself with is wholeheartedly participating in the normalization of homosexual behavior in our society. Which is more important to you?
            You see, as best as I can tell, there’s nothing in the conservative political agenda which I see as being completely contrary to Scripture. Based on the repeated and explicit commands of the Lord from his word, we believe in helping the poor, but we believe that just handing money to people with self-destructive habits isn’t helping them. We believe in being peacemakers, but since we believe that the government is not called to be pacifistic, that it’s ordained by God to use force to keep the peace and enforce the law, well, then being pro-military and pro-police aren’t intrinsically contrary to what the Bible teaches. But I have to keep coming round to this point—I’m sorry, but I’m not letting you off the hook here: The political party which you’ve chosen to align with is explicitly endorsing ideas and practices which are completely and repeatedly and explicitly opposed to the Bible.
            If you’re reading this, and you can find any policy of the conservative political agenda which is explicitly opposed to Scripture, I’d love to hear about it.  Now, please note that I’m not referring to specific Republicans. All of us are sinners, and I’m sure you can find plenty of supposedly conservative Repubs who cheat on their wives or engage in some other despicable behavior. And the Republican Party is not nearly as conservative and as biblically-based as I'd like it to be. No, I’m talking about the politically conservative agenda itself. If you have any confusion on that, see my précis or my blog's Raison d'être      
            The Republican Party isn't perfect. Besides being filled with imperfect people, it’s nowhere near as conservative as I’d like it to be. But it beats the Democrat Party by a country mile. I’ll even go so far to say that if you can find anything in the Republican Party platform (the official statement of what the Party believes) that’s in flat contradiction to Scripture, please let me know. I haven’t seen it yet.           
            Now, the absolutely dead last thing I want to do is cause unnecessary division in the Body. And I’ll stipulate that even issues such as abortion and homosexuality aren’t part of the main message of the Bible. But in light of everything I’ve pointed out in the preceding paragraphs, if someone chooses to align with the Democratic Party, I’d love to ask them some questions. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they’re confused or ill-informed. And I’ll love them just the same. And I’ll happily worship side-by-side with them. But my questions remain. 

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