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?”?
Ari: in response to the post of Nov. 10.
The church has not fulfilled its obligation to care for the needy, but neither has it fulfilled its potential. I am not without hope that it will one day.
We could trade anecdotes about particular situations in which a particular church has failed or succeeded in addressing community needs almost infinitely, and probably come up about even. Here is a positive example from my experience. When our small town was struck by a tremendous flood that put dozens of families out of their homes, the local churches provided shelter and meals, helped clean up the mess and organized donations to help put those affected back on their feet. It was an opportunity not only to model Christ’s charity, but to reach some people who would have avoided church otherwise.
On this last head, you wrote “…most organized Christian groups don’t seem to be able to give without trying to convert people in the process, which, as much as it is done with good intentions, is perceived as not-genuine.”, and, “Ultimately our government is the only one… who is equipped to help without discriminating against those who may not want to hear our message, or agree with how we view things.” I am not sure I understand the true nature of your objections here. First of all, regarding Christian charity: are you creating a separation between physical succor and spiritual ministry, and arguing that church groups should only provide the former where there is the chance that the latter may make someone of different views uncomfortable? If so, I think the division is an arbitrary one, and insupportable as far as Christ’s ministry was concerned. Or are you arguing that Christian organizations are unable to present the gospel tactfully enough to be sincere? If so, “most Christian groups” is a vague generalization and certainly belittles highly effective and openly Christian charitable ministries such as Light of Life. (See this site for details: http://www.lightoflife.org/ministry.htm) Far from discriminating against those with different views, organizations such as Light of Life accept those enslaved by substance abuse and poverty- the loster the better- providing food and support, and by God’s grace a sort of hope that does not come in a government check.
Secular, socialistic welfare is at best a temporary holding action, and while it may provide an existence it has no power to transform anyone’s life much less redeem society. In the end its expansion is unbiblical and pragmatic, and will destroy more effective private initiative and Christian charity while burdening the Government with a load it cannot possibly bear.
Another thing, we hear so much about corporate greed and corruption on wall street, etc., getting us into this housing crisis. The thing no one seems to be talking about is the role of people like us who bought houses out of all proportion to their income. Of course not all, and maybe not even most, foreclosures were guilty of this, but I think it is fair, and biblical, to say that greed is a constant regardless of income.
Wow. I am speechless, saddenned and horrified that “christians” would go that far, and subject a child to that kind of treatment. These are not the fruits of love that the bible speaks about, neither it is righteous indignation. Christ never treated anyone like that, much less a child. Furthermore, I am pretty sure that the I.R.S. can revoke the tax exemptions of churches that are politically militant, as such. In other words, it is illegal for them to take all these tax breaks then turn around and tell someone that they are going to hell for their political affiiliation and give a kid a hard time at school??? That’s insane and over the top. It is harassment. Personally, I don’t think those are real christians, and if I was this person I would find another church and school for my kid. But not without respectfully telling them how I really feel, with perhaps even a lawyer present.
Excerpts from an email from a new reader:
Very interesting, I found a home. I searched under “help – my church friends all listen to rightwing radio” This is so upsetting, I am a very serious born again christian that is living a surrendered life, go to every service, tithe, witness etc. the only reason I mention this is to let you know that I am traditional even conservative spiritually…
Abortion and traditional marriage? with 7 years of complete gop rule they basically did nothing…
Coruption and corporate malfeasence go totally unnoticed…
I am writing because the baptist church that I am so involved with has a christian school where my daughter goes. The children of other members have turned into lynch mob after determining that we voted obama have tormented her, in sunday school the teacher called him antichrist, and terrorist, I am speechless.
This really hurts, the sad thing is they have no facts only right wing lies, meanwhile they know nothing about mccain.