Thursday, October 3, 2013

Is God A Republican or A Democrat?

I have made an observation and it is pretty much across-the-board, among many Christian people in so many Christian denominations. I'm talking about how so many Christians are identifying themselves as Republicans because of their conviction that Republican values are more closely aligned with Biblical values than Democratic values. For the most part, they base their support of the Republican party on deep-seated convictions of the sanctity of life of all human life, including lives that may be seen as "better off dead." Also, they often base their support on the deep-seated conviction of the sanctity of traditional marriage as created by God to be between a man and a woman. And the Bible clearly addresses these issues, in both the Old and New Testaments. God clearly declares that He sees us as already alive from conception on (Jeremiah 4: 4), (Luke 1: 41-44) and that homosexuality as a lifestyle, is against His plan for us and unnatural Leviticus 18: 22), (Romans 1: 26-27) There are many others, who call themselves "progressive Christians," who support marriage equality and are neutral about abortion. They try to address the issue of homosexuality by redefining GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) by declaring that this lifestyle is not sinful and that we should just accept and affirm GLBT persons. They may deplore abortion as evil but believe that it should be available to women as an option. Progressive Christians place priority on caring for the socioeconomic needs of the poor, children, women, those with disabilities, and others who are vulnerable. The Bible clearly addresses our social responsibilities to our neighbors in need, in the Old and the New Testaments Nehemiah 5: 14-18), (Matthew 25: 34-45).
These are just two of countless verses from cover to cover!

Conservative Christians and progressive Christians have this in common, that God has spoken about what government's role should be and what our roles should be as Christians. Where conservative and progressive Christian differ is what they see that the role of government should be. Christians who support Republicans lean toward government's role in our lives being kept as small as possible, our personal liberties and responsibilities maximized, and that the government should be focused on protecting life and freedom and not spending money on government programs for "the underserving poor." Progressive Christians lean toward the government taking care of all vulnerable citizens while in no way denying personal responsibility or choice. There are factions in the Christian Church about which party we should support and which party more closely subscribes to Christian values. I think that this is based on where Christians come from and what they most value.

I grew up in a denomination that is staunchly conservative and that attracts many parishioners who support the Republican party. My observation of so many of these persons who I have encountered, whether in person or online, is that they prioritize moral issues like abortion and homosexuality, and do not see all the other issues as quite as pressing though they agree that these issues are important. These church people so often don't seem to put much priority on so many issues that the Bible clearly speaks to, especially our responsibility to the poor and vulnerable. Many years ago, when my spouse and I were members of the congregation that were married in, we were getting ready to pull out of our parking lot. I saw a bumper sticker that declared, "Friends do not let friends vote Democrat." Over and over, I have seen bumper stickers that have espoused "Republican" issues, particularly the right of the unborn to live, even when they are inconvenient to those around them. Years ago, on the weekend before one Election Day, our Pastor admonished all of us listeners to go to the polls and to "protect the unborn with our votes." I knew that this meant that we were to vote for Republicans.

Frankly, I felt politically alienated in the staunchly conservative Christian congregations that my spouse, daughter and I had been members of. I felt that we did not have much in common with so many fellow parishioners who supported the Republican party. So many of them seemed unaware of, even indifferent to, many moral issues which they seemed not to deem as priority as the sanctity of life and of traditional marriage. I agreed, and still do, that life begins at conception and should be protected from conception to death. I also agree that marriage, as God set it up in the Old Testament (Genesis 2:24) was meant to be between a man and a woman and He has not changed His mind about that (Matthew 19: 5,6). Frankly, I have never felt comfortable going to vote. I have often handled it by voting split-party, voting for a mix of Republicans and Democrats. I want my votes to protect ALL I value, not just a some! But I would hear, and still hear, conservative Christians shame their brethren who support Democrats, declaring, "God will hold you accountable for supporting candidates who endorse killing the unborn through abortion and who celebrate homosexuality!" I know no easy answers to this problem. Both the Republican and the Democratic parties embrace values that the God hold dear. Both parties also neglect values that God prizes. I'm bothered and offended when Christian leaders and pastors implicitly or explicitly endorse political parties or political candidates. Men like Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Rev. Billy Graham, has appeared on MSNBC to defend his conservative views and their superiority. Prolife groups have come out asking supporters to oppose President Obama and the Democratic Party.

I have heard it suggested that we Christians support "the lesser of two evils." The issue, as I see it, is what each of us sees as "the lesser of two evils." For many, that means voting straight Republican or straight Democrat. For some of us, it means voting a split-party ticket. I see nothing in the Bible that tells us which party or which politician  we should support. Christian leaders like Ron Sider and Jim Wallis lean are advocating for a consistent life ethic that would merge the best of both political parties.We are told to "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and render to God what is God's." We are told to pray for all politicians. Who should we support? The Bible does not tell us how to vote or which candidates to support. Of course, many Christians will disagree with me, but that is the way I read my Bible.

When Jesus lived among us as God made man, the reason so many rejected Him is because He would not get on any political soapbox, and stood up to the most rejected religious leaders of His day. I wonder what He would say about the factions in the Christian Church today?

God is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Praise Him. Photo courtesy of Photo by Krosseel. This photo can be found here.
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