As I’ve noted before, the heated nature of this political season has caused me to have some disagreements (mostly polite, I think) with fellow Christian bloggers at times regarding what I see as blantant hypocrisy (at worst) or a simple blindness to one’s own prejudices (at best).
The latest post to fire me up a little about this issue, titled “Post Election Response,” is at Evangelicals Anonymous, and you can click here to view it.
I would be less bothered by people calling upon fellow Christians to take a bold stand in political circles for Christian principles if it weren’t for a couple things:
- Most politicians, even those who publicly profess their Christianity, aren’t carrying out their jobs by Christian principles any more than secular politicians, from what I see, except on very specific touchpoint issues like abortion or gay marriage.
- Our nation is pluralistic and our government is secular, so picking politicians who promote Christian-specific doctrine doesn’t make sense to me.
What truly pisses me off when fundemantalist Christians call for taking a firm stand (and taking sides in politics along religious lines) is that they don’t acknowledge that they are picking the lesser of two evils in many cases, just as I often do. It’s just that they are picking their candidate based on biblical issues that cut closer to their hearts. The notion that Obama is probably an evil man lifted up by God to this position for a specific purpose (as Recovering at Evangelicals Anonymous seems to me to be saying in the post I link to above), and criticizing Christians like me by suggesting that we have sided with evil or are actually secular progressives in disguise…well, it bothers me. A hell of a lot.
I know that I have hypocrisy in my own life. I know there are areas in which my personal beliefs conflict with my Christian ones. For example, I don’t like abortion, but I also don’t believe it is my place to restrict a woman’s right to choose. I don’t think God particularly wants us to be in homosexual relationships, but I will not put same-sex couples into some special sin category, nor do I see the point in fighting against same-sex marriage. But why do so many on the right-leaning side of Christianity refuse to acknowledge their own dual-minded natures?
For example, why decry efforts toward universal healthcare or a tax system that expects those who make more to contribute more as socialism and say that it’s going to destroy our nation’s political, moral and social structure? Didn’t Jesus and his followers call for selling what they had and helping the poor, the widowed and the sick? Wasn’t their lifestyle promoting elements of socialism and even communism? And Jesus didn’t call for the government to outlaw things he found distasteful (gambling, prostitution, lying, etc.) but instead hung out with and reached out to people with lifetstyles he disagreed with, purely on a personal, one-to-one-basis.
And yet, these are the people who say they want government to step back and go away and get out of their business because it’s “socialism” or it’s “liberal overtolerance.” Candidates are to be reviled for not advocating the outlaw or sharp restriction of abortion or for proposing that the government should tighten up environmental regulations (instead of, I guess, just assuming that God wants us to waste and misuse his planet right up until the End Times). The right-leaning Christians want politicians to step forward on outlawing gay marriage or imposing religious standards on when life begins, but they want government to step away the moment it moves toward social issues that Jesus himself advocated, like helping the poor. Most of what Jesus did was about helping the poor and downtrodden, and yet somehow our government is supposed to drop those people from its radar and let them fend for themselves or hope that we Christians will pick up the slack (which we pretty much don’t do).
It’s somehow government’s job to uphold the biblical value they hold dear, and to avoid those that others hold dear.
Again, I’m not saying I’m perfect. I am filled with contradictions and conflicts. But I try to admit them and I try to see why others feel the way they do. It distresses me when I don’t get the same consideration from the other side in so many cases. Instead of saying, “I understand where you’re coming from,” I more often get what seems to me to be a thinly veiled (or not veiled at all): “You are going against the word of God and you have failed Jesus.”
Almost all of us who are born again pick and choose what parts of God’s Word we will champion and what we won’t. What irritates me is when someone on one side or the other claims that they know which ones God considers most important and then tells the other side they are wrong, wrong, wrong.
I may think you’re wrong, but I’ll rarely suggest that you are an idiot for being that way, and you’ll almost never see me suggest that you’re against Jesus because you disagree with me or, worse yet, that you are supporting Satan’s plans.
It’s worth mentioning that when I say I feel that people suggest that I (or others like me) are in league with Satan or letting Jesus down, I’m not pointing to Recovering at Evangelicals Anonymous specifically, nor anyone else I may have mentioned in this blog or at whose blogs I’ve left comments.
It may be that Recovering and others DO feel that way, but I’m not trying to single any of them out for doing so. That said, I think there is plenty of double-mindedness among them that they are downplaying or ignoring. (But I see that on the liberal side as well in many cases)
I appreciate your comment. I do not think you are a secular progressive or that you are in league with Satan.
I simply disagree with your premise that government is the right place to do this, that government bureaucracy is somehow more benevolent than we are, and I firmly believe that the only reason the Church doesn’t do its job in providing true well-fare for citizens is because at two points in time (Great Depression and WWII) we abdicated and there is no incentive for the Church to do the things it’s called to do. Which is to take care of widows and orphans, feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit prisoners, and provide for practical needs.
We have the same heart. I just don’t want to abdicate the Church’s job to government anymore and I’m OK with short term pain (some needs not being met) for long-term gain (the Church, or at lease enough individuals within it, waking up to the need and meeting it).
So I think progressive Christians mean well. It’s just that the only politicians willing to go toward the Socialist policies that will be required to meet those needs are also evil men on a number of issues like abortion, euthanasia, etc. I think the vehicle (govt.) is misguided and the men championing that position on the national level are complicit in the murder of 50 million+ babies. Not a good deal in my book.
I get a kick out of reading your points of view and appreciate the dialogue. I respect you and appreciate your position. I hope I don’t come across any differently. That being said, progressive Christians do, in general, really piss me off. Those like yourself that are thinkers and can articulate your heart are refreshing.
Well, one of the reasons I did qualify my post with that first comment is precisely because I don’t want to come across like I think that you (or Shane, for example, at Caffeinated Thoughts) are jerks.
Sure, there are times I sharply disagree with one or the both of you (or other folks for that matter), and even times I get that frustrated “how could you think that moment” but I respect the thought processes that go into the bulk of your views as well.
However, that said, there are a ton of jerks out there who would like nothing better than to pigeonhole folks into the “bad” camp (and I believe that both the conservative and progressive sides are guilty of this).
There are millions of children that aren’t aborted each year, that are allowed to live and die painful, and oftentimes, preventable deaths. Where is our outrage over this?!
Shouldn’t We the People (the government) provide when other institutions fail, or should we just seek solace in our bickering over methodology, and proper principles to address the problem? Suffering and death won’t wait while we hash out the finer points, and decide who, and what, is best to address the problem. Inaction is no action at all. And in the meantime, millions die.
That’s unacceptable. And we cry out to God, Why?, when we all (the nation’s of the world) have within our means the power to heal, the power to feed, and the power to shelter.
We shouldn’t ask of God that which we’re unwilling to do for ourselves!
Down with terms like socialism, Marxism, and communism. They’re like so many weights around our necks paralyzing action, and chilling appropriate responses to the world’s needs.
The cost of feeding those in extreme hunger is minuscule compared to the billions spent annually to maintain the world’s military.
This inhumanity will continue as long as we see ourselves as separate and apart from God, and separate and apart from each other.
 Malnutrition Responsible for a Third of Child Deaths Worldwide
According to Kent Hill, assistant administrator for global health at USAID, there are some 852 million chronically hungry people living in the world today, and roughly half are children. Even though many can eat enough to ward off hunger, many still don’t get the nutrition necessary for growth and development. Mothers and children are the most vulnerable….
New Estimates For The Causes Of Child Deaths Worldwide
The most accurate estimates of the causes of child deaths to date, published in the March 26, 2005 of THE LANCET, reveal that worldwide more than 70% of the 10.6 million child deaths that occur annually are attributable to six causes: pneumonia (19%), diarrhea (18%), malaria (8%), neonatal sepsis or pneumonia (10%), preterm delivery (10%), and asphyxia at birth (8%).
Well, Domino, you won’t get much argument from me, but I lean to the left slightly
While I do agree with folks like Recovering that we don’t need (and shouldn’t want) government to do everything, I do believe the priorities and use of money/resources/people the government does have are often woedfully misplaced. And there is so much more the government can do, and should do, to put our nation on a solid foundation. We need infrastructure improvements, we need healthcare to be reasonably accessible to everyone, and we need an educational system that doesn’t fail our kids but instead will prepare them for the world.
Deac, we’re back in mind meld.
Seriously, I was having this very same discussion with someone the other day. I might have even mentioned it on my blog.
How can people not see the hypocrisy in calling for more government involvement in certain instances and then decrying all government involvement in other instances?
Liberals and conservatives behave exactly the same, we’re just hypocritical about different issues.
Liberals want the government to stay out of people’s lives when it comes to abortions or gay marriages, but they want government involvement in stuff like healthcare or poverty.
Conservatives want the government to crack down on abortion and the gays, but to stop spending money on social problems.
It’s just a massive cluster fuck of hypocrisy. Personally, I try to think about what Jesus would want me to do to help my fellow man, and also reflect God’s attitudes about most individual action.
If God gave us free will, who am I to restrict that free will if it truly does not affect my life? I don’t know, this argument is just so crazy to me.
Yeah, I guess the part that really gets me is when the conservatives and/or Republicans (since that isn’t necessarily always synonymous) talk about small government but then want the government in our bedrooms and such and get fired up when we wage wars. That shit ain’t small time.
Brother Blue, I may be more progressive than you.
I won’t take the time to make my case, but make a flat assertion: this country should be willing to do for the least of its citizens what it is willing to do for those that violate society’s codified rules of conduct, rules that we call laws.
While incarcerated, we guarantee those rule breakers the following: adequate food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare. And, I might add, the rule breakers will, during their confinement, contribute little in the way of supporting the common defense, and the general welfare of the nation.
Should we do less for those that are law abiding, that don’t violate societal rules?
Lord knows, First Domino, I never claimed to be the most progressive guy in the world. 😉
That said, I support your logic there.