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Seeking Things Above


If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col 3:1)

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2008-11-07

Why I'm still on the right


In many elections it is not surprising how people vote.  There are usually one or two key issues that people cling to and that sets their political mind set.  There is nothing wrong with that.  The reality is that there are so many issues with no real right or wrong  perspective that very few of us can all agree on every issue.  That's why our party specific primary elections can often be divisive.

In past elections, many Christians have tended to vote more conservatively because in general (not in all cases) the conservative platforms include moral positions that more align with a biblical perspective.  However, I have noticed a shift in that thinking among some Christians.  It's not a shift away from biblical perspectives but more a shift in which biblical perspectives cause more conviction in their political view.

Here's my attempt of an analysis of this shift and why I haven't shifted.  I'm going to be speaking in general terms so forgive me if I appear to be using a brush that is too broad.  However, I want to keep this thought process simple.

As mentioned in my previous post, a couple of the major moral political issues today are abortion and government recognition of gay marriages.  These issues have tended to pull Christians to the Republican side of the political spectrum because many Republican candidates take the pro-life and pro-heterosexual marriage platform stance.  There are also other biblical perspective issues such as the sovereignty of Israel but that issue tends to be less divisive across political lines.

Today, I think these two moral political hot topics are starting to take a back seat to another important moral political issue, which is injustice.  Christians see the injustice of the poor and the persecuted and they want justice.  This is an important biblical perspective and valuable morally political issue to address.

This is where the political shift has started to occur for many Christians.  The Republican party is pro-business.  By that I mean it's overall position is that the market will keep business in check, there needs to be very little if any governmental regulations over business.

The problem is that the goal for most successful businesses is to make a profit.  Greed becomes the god of many corporations.  Success is measured by revenue growth.  This is obviously not a biblical perspective (Matt 6:24, Luke 16:13).  Over the past decade we have seen the results of this greed with the likes of Enron and others.

Another important injustice issue outside of economics is the real issue of prejudice.  The big areas of concern in our country today are racial prejudice and sexual orientation prejudice.  I think prejudice crosses party lines but unfortunately more openly prejudice groups are identified as "on the right" politically. 

Christian conservatives are often labeled as prejudice against gay and lesbians because of their belief that the Bible clearly labels this lifestyle as a sin.  Unfortunately, this perspective of this conservative Christian viewpoint is again a stereotype because some Christians address this issue in a non-Christian and hateful manner.

The abortion issue has also started to give way to injustice perspectives.  It is not that Christians that vote for the democratic ticket want to see babies killed.  It's that the pro-life movement is often perceived as a "persecuting" movement against the woman in crises.

These are the shifts I see in the Christian political perspective.  However, I still find myself on the conservative side of the equation for the reasons to follow.  I may not be seeing these perspectives correctly so if you are a Christian on the more liberal side of the political spectrum, please comment on this post.

I too am very concerned about the injustices in this world.  I believe that as a follower of Jesus I should fight the battle against these injustices.  However, as the title of this post indicates, I have not shifted my political position to the left with some of my brothers and sisters in Christ that have the same passion against injustice as I do.

Why?

Because I do not think that a political party or any government can or will address the injustices in this world.  Jesus never called a political movement to address the injustices of this world.  He called us, His followers, to address the injustices.  When we depend on the government we end up with communism on the left and fascist dictatorships on the right.

You cannot address the injustice of the poor by trying to redistribute the wealth.  The injustice to the poor is the lack of compassion for the poor.   The injustice of the poor will not be addressed until hearts of those with the wealth are changed.

The problem with trying to regulate compassion is that those in power in the government are just as much sinners as those they are trying to regulate.  Why do we have our current financial crises in this country?  We tried to regulate compassion by providing housing for those that could not afford it.  However, those in charge of the program were greedy and sought their own wealth at the expense of the rest of us.

What is a Christian then to do politically?  Give up?  Never.  I believe as Christians we are to engage our world, so that means we have to engage politically.  My dilemma then is how do I choose between worldly (imperfect) ideologies.  I try to keep it simple.

Abortion is wrong.  God ordains life prior to conception (Psalm 139:13-16).  We have no right to terminate a life that God has ordained.  There are lots of deep arguments that could be made about rape and incest victims but that is not the political issue today.  President-elect Obama was quoted saying he would not want his daughters punished with a baby for making a moral mistake.  While this comment was off the cuff and maybe not how he really wanted to state it, that is the real issue.  Abortion is used today to undue a mistake, at the cost of an innocent baby's life.

As a Christian, I should actively pray and work for the women that find themselves in crises of a pregnancy and no means to support the child as well as pray and work to support those mothers and children when the child is born.  However, I cannot vote for a candidate that supports abortion as an option.

While Jesus never personally addressed the homosexual issue in the Gospels, Paul certainly lists homosexual actions along with other sinful actions (Romans 1:26, 1 Cor 6:9-11) .  Homosexual actions are also directly denounced in the Old Testament  (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). 

As a Christian, I should love my neighbor, including my gay and lesbian neighbors.  I cannot view their sin as any worse than my own sins.  However, I cannot condone their sin anymore than I can condone my own sin.  I cannot agree with a worldly political movement to condone the homosexual lifestyle as normal and God ordained.

As a Christian, I should give freely to those in need.  This is not just tithing to my church but giving wherever there is a need and not just money, but my time and my heart as well.  The government can't regulate this.  We know from our own welfare system and the socialist policies in many European countries that when the government tries to regulate giving (i.e. redistribution of  wealth) it does not fix poverty but creates dependency on the government.  Dependency on the government leads to an ever increasing size of government.

Christians in corporate America should live out their Christian faith.  They should work hard and voluntarily serve others in need with money and their time.  Government regulation can be a knee-jerk response to corrupt business practices that negatively hurts honest companies and the people that work for those companies.  Corrupt businesses will usually fail on their own in a free market.  In a government regulated market, corruption is protected (i.e. see Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac). 

Make no mistake about it.  While Christ's Kingdom on earth has started, this physical world is still ruled by Satan (Matt 4:8-9, Eph 6:12).  Big government, either or the left or on the right, will never do the work that needs to be done by those that belong to the Kingdom of God. 

There will be a government that will one day rule this earth with justice.  However, that ruler is Jesus when he returns.  Until he comes, I need to keep my spiritual passion deep and seek the Kingdom of God and it's justice, but I need to keep my worldly political perspectives simple, which for me if on on the right of center, rather than on the left.

Finally, once the votes are casts, God's will be done.  I congratulate President-elect Obama.  I will pray for him and our country and seek God's Kingdom regardless of which way our country's political winds blow.
Romans 13:1 (ESV)
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

9 comments:

chadholtz said...

Tony-
Good post. I appreciate your balanced approach and your overall fair reading of both sides.

Just a few short comments I will make for now in the interests of time...

Because I do not think that a political party or any government can or will address the injustices in this world. Jesus never called a political movement to address the injustices of this world.

Amen. No president is ever going to be a Messiah. We already have a Savior. I would also say that your statement here, which I agree with completely, cuts both ways. It also means we should not vote for a president just because we pin our hopes in him or her to legislate morality for the country. That is not their job, never has been nor should it be.

Second, with regards to homosexuality, Obama has stated clearly that he upholds traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Personally, however, I feel the governments role should be ensuring that all people, regardless of religion and orientation, race or whatever have the same rights that everyone else has. I do not have a problem with the gov't. allowing homosexuals to marry if it should come to that.

Regarding abortion - This is not a black and white issue. It used to be the only concern I had when I voted (I am a lifelong Republican until the last year or so). I have come to see how myopic my view of politics has been to make this the issue par excellance when it comes to picking a candidate. The truth is, no one is for killing babies. No one is "pro" abortion. I myself am pro-life and as a pastor will ALWAYS counsel for life and never offer abortion as a viable alternative (regardless of why the person is pregnant). But that is my role as a person's pastor.

Statistics show that even in countries where abortion is illegal they occur in astounding numbers (even more than in the USA). Even if Roe v. Wade were overturned abortion would just be turned over to the states which would turn abortion into a state-driven market economy. Or, people would get them illegally just as they do everywhere else. The answer to this issue, IMO, is not more legislation but for the Church to stop abdicating its role over to the government and become more active in the political sphere and take life seriously IN ALL AREAS (I have made the argument repeatedly that there are MANY pro-life issues that are also outside the womb. Ironically, many who scream the loudest against abortion are hypocrites in so many other sanctity of life areas). As Obama has said, he feels the government should allow these tough moral decisions to be made by the family in consultation with their pastor and doctor. That, IMO, is the proper position for the President to have.

This was longer than I intended. Will pause for now.


peace,
Chad

chadholtz said...

Oh, an article with the read with some good stats that back up what I said about number of abortions in other countries and so forth can be found here: www.thirdway.org

Tony said...

Chad -

If a mother can choose to kill a fetus, why not let her kill a newborn? I understand that a non-Christian view (or maybe even some Christian views) are that we don't know when life starts so we can't legislate that. However, if I believe life starts at conception, my conscious will never let me vote on the side that says killing the fetus is ok if the mother wants to do it.

Certainly innocent women and children die during war. But our military plans (unlike the terrorist plans) are never to intentionally kill the innocent. However, in abortion, the intention is to kill the innocent child.

In 2004 there were 1.2 million abortions. I'm an Aggie and Kyle Field holds about 80,000 fans. So if I picture 15 Kyle Fields filled with babies, that's how many abortions were executed in one year.

That's not very myopic.

I understand what you're saying that making it illegal does not make the problem go away - but at least if it were illegal we would not be as a nation condoning this act agaist these innocent children.

Read the Planned Parenthood site. Abortion is portrayed as an acceptable good option. There's no negative overtones. They are not acting like this should be a last resort choice. And my tax money funds organizations like this to promote and carry out abortions.

How can I vote for anyone that supports legislation and judicary courts that support that?

If a president screws up an economic policy or foreign policy we pay for it. But we get through it and that party gets thrown out (ie this election). However, if he appoints judges that have no regard for the rights of an unborn child, we live with that for decades.

Grace and peace brother.

Tony

Tony Cathey said...

Loved this post, and the comments also. Oh, and the new site Design. :)

Tony said...

Thanks Tony C - I had to change up the site layout in hopes I could get re-energized to post. I invited Chad to come over and comment because I knew he had a different perspective but I enjoy discussions with him. He's a good brother in Christ.

Tony F.

BunGirl said...

Wow -- you have succinctly and eloquently put to words those things I have long struggled to explain to my left-leaning friends. I couldn't agree with you more! And now, I can simply point my friends to this post and hope they read it with an open mind and understand my perspective on the issues more fully. Thanks for a great post!

Tony said...

Thanks BG. I hope your friends do come by and leave their perspective. Tony

Ron said...

Good post Tony! I havent visited in ages and have been trying to read through some of your entries tonight.

Tony said...

Ron - Thanks for coming by. Have a happy Thanksgiving

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