Did you see the recent comment from “Donna”? It stirred me up! Come on people! Christian integrity and humility should compel you to allow that those who voted for Obama are NOT thereby proven to be ignorant or reprobate!
I know that my response refers to the behavior and attitudes of the “religious right” as if they could be sterotyped. But in fact, in my experience, these problems VERY consistently show up in people who get their input from those sources – they are stereotypical responses. On the other hand my experience with Christian Democrats shows them almost always to be much more welcoming and open to information and to real discussion.
Here’s my response (The numbered headlines are quotes from Donna’s comment.):
You are asking us to NOT think about issues of great importance to us and to our fellow-citizens of this planet. You are implying it is evil to ask the Bible to help us excercise discernment on economic and social matters. But a good part of Scripture is an exercise in trying to get us to do precisely that: excercise discernment on economic and social matters.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say.” Or in today’s idiom, “Why do you believe in me and sing worship songs to me with great emotion, but pay no attention to the things I and my Apostles actually emphasized?”
Well, here are my specific responses:
1. Jesus would not vote according to his ‘pocketbook’.
It is slander to accuse us who supported Obama of only voting our personal economic welfare. Slander is not a Biblical virtue.
First, I voted for Obama for MANY moral reasons which you could discover by reading a few articles here. My personal economic future is utterly irrelevant.
Second, I am a pastor – but not in one of those wealthy white suburban mega-churches. My people, though white, are suffering now and will suffer more from the wild irresponsibility which the Bush administration practiced and promoted and which the lying prophets strongly supported. My people are suffering and will suffer yet more from the pouring of 100’s of billions into a fraudulent, unjust, and irresponsibly run war.
Don’t give me that cheap cop-out accusation about voting our pocketbooks.
The Bible is full of dire complaint against economic injustice. It IS appropriate for people to vote against economic injustice and irresponsibility. It’s a major Biblical value. It affects real people’s real lives, which – you may discover with a more careful and patient reading of the Gospels – are a major concern of the Savior’s.
2. Jesus is pro-life.
Yes, but the current Republican leadership of this country is not. It is responsible for pre-emptive warfare, terrorism against civilians and whole cities, present and future increases in infant mortality, increased likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons, torture, mistreatment of the veterans who honorably implemented the government’s dishonorable policies. And we all know this is only scratching the surface of their anti-life, anti-people agenda.
And the prophets of the religious right are fully involved and guilty. They were not just associates; they were vigorous promoters. And those in our churches who faithfully and eagerly support them surely share to some extent in their guilt.
3. “Jesus is not tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle.”
“Tolerant” is a fairly moderate word. Jesus was “tolerant” of a lot of evil around him, in the sense that he never mentioned it that we know of. Thus Jesus did in fact tolerate homosexuality, which was visibly present in his communities. He was tolerant in the sense that He never singled it out for attention. That’s “tolerating”. It certainly does not mean he approved of it.
We know that he did, however, frequently and energetically take after the religious conservatives of his day for their power-lust, especially their money-lust, and for their profound hypocrisy. Jesus “tolerated” the homosexuals around him, by never once singling them out for rebuke or even for a mention of any kind. He did not tolerate economic exploitation and oppression, and he did not tolerate religious arrogance and hypocrisy.
4. “Jesus would not vote for anyone who has interests in other religions besides Christianity.”
Incredible. No wonder “Christianity” has such a very bad reputation among Americans in general and among young Americans in particular. Of course, that’s the easy way. No love or respect for your neighbors, because you’ve got it ALL figured out.
I believe in Jesus Christ. He is my Savior. I NEED a Savior. But he also is the one I go to for input on moral issues, whether public or private. And he tells me to love my neighbor as myself – even if they are not Catholic or Southern Baptist. Jesus knew what the “Good Samaritan” believed. He knew how insulting it would be to the Jews to hold that guy up as a moral beacon. Jesus knew about “other religions,” and he treated their adherents with well justified respect.
5. “Jesus is against welfare (the church should provide for people’s needs).”
In yet another bit of colossal arrogance and insult you quote 2 Thessalonians 3:10 — “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” — in the context of being against “welfare.”
That’s a good verse for lazy people who live off other’s labor – like maybe the heads of major Wall Street investment firms, or local realty agents who knowingly and dishonestly pushed bad lending contracts on their clients.
But it is vile that you would use it against the working poor who in spite of their labor and anquish come up short at the end of every month. That is just vile, and the Lord was harsh against such arrogance and hatefulness!
You obviously are using that “Small Bible” that preaches only against abortion, homosexuality, and people who are not like “us.”
Jesus made it VERY clear that “the nations” will be judged on the basis of how they treat the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, etc. (Mt 25). Maybe we really don’t need to respect what Jesus said as long as we (claim to) “believe” in Him. I however am convinced that to “believe” in someone means to trust not only what He can do for your personal spiritual needs, but also to actually trust his judgement about life in general!
6. “Jesus is pro-Israel.”
If we admit, as Paul and Peter clearly teach, that the church really is the new Israel, then of course Jesus is pro-Israel. But the Jesus of history, and the God of the Old and New Testaments, was willing to judge the national structure of Israel just as surely as He is willing to judge that of any other nation.
We have to bring moral insight to bear on these evaluations, and since we profess to be Christians, those evaluations need to be based solidly in what Jesus Himself actually taught and promoted. Jesus is “pro-people.” He is not pro- any one given earthly nation or race.
7. “Jesus knows who really controls the economy.”
Yes. That’s why he is so explicitly critical of such people, and so concerned about the terrible judgment they are bringing down on themselves as well as on the innocent bystanders.
From Donna’s Summary: “It all comes down to this. We need God in America again. Our economy, our children, our marriages, etc. need healing.”
Yes, we do indeed need God, and we need healing. And we are likely to get both by paying attention to what’s really going on around us, and to what the Bible actually teaches and emphasizes. That is, we will get God’s healing work in our land by actually believing in God enough to see and love our neighbors, and to see and love what God is concerned about.
And you know, Donna, it doesn’t matter that you can find someone to give a flip and shallow answer to my comments. What matters is what is really true. When you stand ALONE before God, how will you answer that question: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ but do not do what I say?”?