Abortion Politics Religious Right

Christians! Please Let’s Not Parrot Shallow and Insulting Hypocrites.

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.
Donna, sorry to have to say it, but that’s classic Pharisee talk. Anybody can quote verses, or replicate right-wing talking points; it’s no great moral achievement. It may sadly be the case with you (or at least with your sources), as Jesus said of the Pharisees’ prayers and service, “They already have their reward.”

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.

“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?”
“Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these … you have done it unto Me.” Jesus said that, remember?

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.

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.
Jesus did not mention homosexuality, but the religous right mentions it ALL THE TIME! And they ignore most of what Jesus actually did talk about. Literally. You cannot bring up the idea of Biblical morality without your religious rightist friends immediately assuming you are talking about two things Jesus never mentioned – abortion and homosexuality.

Paul spends more time in Romans 2 castigating religious moral hypocrisy than he does in all his writings combined castigating homosexuality.
You quote Paul from Romans 1, but neglect to notice his longer, stinging rebuke to the self-righteous early in Romans 2, in which he makes very clear that often those who complain about others’ sins are themselves guilty of the very same things. We’ve sure seen that in the religious right over the last several years. And don’t miss this: Paul spends more time in Romans 2 castigating religious moral hypocrisy than he does in all his writings combined castigating homosexuality. And his intensity is just as great.

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.”

Jesus is “pro-people.” He is not pro- any one given earthly nation or race.
Jesus was born a Jew. Jesus loved and loves his people. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. But did you forget that this is the Jesus whose “Father” brought the most terrible destructions on Israel in the centuries before Jesus’ birth. This is the Jesus who himself said that his own nation’s national, social, and religious structures would be utterly demolished because of their rejection of Him? It happened, too, in 70 AD. You call that “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?”?

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  • JDK brings up interesting points, however, I think Christians in general dont get the concept of Charity. The church has not fulfilled its obligation to take care of the needy, therefore the masses have been looking for SOMEONE who will hear their plea.. Maybe Larry, being a pastor, has a better insight than I do..

    I’ve been part of big and small churches and basically what you do is what? give to the church. tithe. then there’s the building fund. missionary fund. youth funds. funds. funds. funds. i remember working full-time while being in college, and homeless without healthcare.. this was back in the 90’s when people were making money.. I was part of a very loving mega-church in which there were a g-zillion pastors.. all of their wives and children were staff too.. lots of people to pay. i still gave my tithe faithfully because i believed God deserved it, i felt i should pay up too, since i went there every week and enjoyed the uplifting message, and also, honestly, i was worried i would get left behind in the rapture..

    I never got anything from the church. Ever. I was invisible. All I ever got was some pity free lunches after church from people whom I was close to. It was a little bit better at a small church, but for every one of me, there were tens of others with bigger needs. I still dont regret giving to the church all those years I was suffereing intense need. My point is that our churches are way too “organized”, to the point that we have created these big organizations that need to be “sustained”. the giving is so “organized” that i wonder how anything gets to the needy. the catholic church has historically done a lot in giving and trying to make this kind of social impact, but i think that too much organization has hurt them too..

    i know people who cant afford healthcare and whose kids never even got a christmas present or a pair of brand new cheap walmart shoes because of the tithe. and thats the truth. and everyone keeps telling them that if they are faithful and vote on moral values God will help them. they placate the guilty feelings brought about by their neglect by telling themselves that that is what jesus would do and by telling themeselves that at least they have their integrety/moral principles..

    in the mean time most organized christian groups dont 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 i cant think of how many times i hear a christian say “i already give money to my church” when asked to contribute to organizations such as the inocence project, who are taking up work that the church doesnt even come close to…

    i personally think we all have to help each other in every way possible. this means, privately, through our churches, but also and specially through our government. ultimately the government is the only one of the three 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 was originally a skeptic of Mr. Obama ability to pull off this campaign, primarily based on being “nice”.. I have been watching and what has amazed me the most is that he has been able to inspire people to care, not just about taking ownership of our democracy, but about each other, our communities..

    All of a sudden, being “nice” is IN!!! what a wonderful thing for my kids to learn/live. We should all be nice. We should all give to our churches. but we should all do things like habitat for humanity too, and we shouldnt judge people who need to have a house built for them or expect them to convert to our God, but just LOVE THEM. like jesus would have…

    and maybe our goverment can help young hard-working christians like i was, to be able to go to college without having to choose between books and food, tuition and housing.. to be able to get to our first job with benefits without major preventable health deficits..

    only our govenrment can do that. i dont believe our churches will ever be able to reach everyone..

  • #5 brings up a point I would like to discuss. There is grave danger in the left’s welfare philosophy, and Larry, I think you dismiss it too easily.

    First, I argue from mere practical considerations. Where government expands social welfare, private charity diminishes (read, Europe). Whatever it may do to recipients, too much welfare does make lazy givers.

    Second, a theological perspective. The church needs to step up and shoulder its responsibility to care for the needy, yet many Christians seem content to allow, even encourage the government to usurp this role, for which it was never intended. The government must create conditions where those who apply themselves may prosper, recognizing that poverty is a permanent and painful reality of the fallen world; it cannot be legislated away. The church, on its catholic, local, and individual levels, must follow the legacy of Christ and his apostles, who explicitly commanded private and ecclesiastical charity.

  • Excerpts from an email I received about this post:

    Praise the Lord – you ALWAYS hit it right on the money!! Still, Christians who have been swayed and misled by the Christian right continue with their string of — gosh, what can you call it – hate and lies, I guess. Stephen Baldwin’s joined Kevin McCullough in a very caustic talk show – just filthy and disgusting in my opinion and in the name of God!


    I wonder if there’s every been a pure blood in the White House?

    If that’s not enough – check out Kevin’s blog. Well, Christian? It just sounds like a neo-Nazi Christian in my opinion.

    PS – yes, I’m angry with all this. So far I’ve been called the anti-christ, a “so-called Christian”, I read a different Bible, and on and on.

    Thanks again for this site and post. You’ve been a blessing.

  • Hi, again…

    I’m not sure I even responded to the theme, or at least not very well. Or perhaps it’s one of those queries which allows any quick, concise answer.

    It illustrates that in the course of studying Scripture, somehow anyone’s individual understanding can embrace radically different conclusions. Given the same text, then what separates one scholastic course from another? I guess that is the question here for me.

    There is of course my peculiar view, that when Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world, he did not indicate “planet” by “world” but rather “kosmos.” Scripture describes the end of governments, which are of the kosmos.

    Gentiles get confused too between governments and Israel as a nation, or tribe. They receive a unique tribal blessing.

    But as to governments of man, that is another thing. Straining to clean up a government to God’s perfection by joining in it is, IMO, beating a dead horse. They are already condemned, something the apostles could not write too openly about for fear of Roman retribution.

    As to the pernicious effect of conflating the terms “earth” with “world,” witness LaHaye, whose fruits include inspiring a perverse movement to provoke a “pre-trib rapture” by initiating Armageddon.

    But I counter that the goal is NOT to destroy the earth.

    The word for “earth” is ge, while “world” is kosmos. While English speakers in particular tend to conflate these terms, how could “blessed are the gentle for they shall inherit the earth” indeed be a blessing if the earth is to be destroyed? In that passage, the Aramaic word is “ge” not “kosmos.”

    The kosmos, on the other hand, means

    an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, ‘the heavenly hosts’, as the ornament of the heavens… (etc)

    . Governments in particular are the “world” spoken of which is to be destroyed. NOT the earth. The punishment for that mistake can not be said much more emphatically than this:

    The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great– and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
    Rev 11:18

    18 For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the LORD, and there is none else. 19 ” I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘ Seek Me in a waste place’; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, Declaring things that are uprightIsaiah 45:18-19

    This of course puts voting in the category of things Jesus is not going to do, for he is coming to put an end to human (and celestial) governments as they stand. He did not come to compromise himself with the imperfection of human government.

    I think that those who are attracted to the idea of Heaven being the mission to blow up the earth have waxed perverse.

    My faith hinges on the promise of Isaiah:

    And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.Isaiah 2:4

    Isaiah describes an earthly kingdom of righteousness. And he describes the end of those who have abused the Scripture:

    20 “Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain offering to the LORD, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the LORD, “just as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. 21 “I will also take some of them for priests {and} for Levites,” says the LORD. 22 “For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, “So your offspring and your name will endure. 23 “And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD. 24 “Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”Isaiah 66:20-24

    Renewing earth and heaven, yes. Destroying the earth, no. The above vision is a very tangible one.

    Adam was created to care for the garden, after all.

    Those who cleave to a doctrine of destroying the earth, I argue, are in quite perverse disobedience. That goes with causing wars, which Isaiah also says will come to an end.

    Therefore those who talk like the chickenhawk right, seem to be entirely contrary to what Jesus taught.

  • Larry,

    What a masterpiece, this comment of Donna’s. A masterpiece of indoctrination which I am laboring to understand.

    Having bushwhacked (sorry, don’t mean to get punny) a lot of trails as a lost lamb in the years since I returned to church(es) as an adult, I can’t really tout myself over much of anyone.

    But if there’s one thing missing in the “indoctrinaire” point of view, I’d say it must be love.

    Jesus loved sinners. He didn’t come at them a-bashing. His one outburst was against the money-changers, who made their living off others’ ventures to sacrifice for sins in the temple. Compared to his set-to’s with the Pharisees, his interactions with sundry sinners were rather friendly.

    But wow. How do some of us read the Bible so differently? I guess in the end, perhaps it depends on what we think God is doing, why the scripture was written, how it functions as an entire body of writing, from which one can draw many conclusions. Mine come from study of the ancient Hebrew world into which Jesus was born, something all but unchronicled in the gentile literary tradition. They expected a physical, bodily resurrection, and a redeemed earth rather than LaHaye’s grotesque delight of simply ascending to become some kind of post-terrestial intelligent gas. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” We still await the fulness of that.

    According to the heart, we conceive of God. Here (again, sorry) is my favorite verse about that:

    “To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.

    ~ 2 Sam 22:26-27

    Shrewd / …1 a archaic : causing trouble : MISHIEVOUS, NAUGHTY… b obs : causing injury : HURTFUL… : 2 obs marked by bad temper : SHREWISH, ABUSIVE… 3 a obs : tending to disadvantage : OMINOUS, UNFORTUNATE b : beset with hardship or difficulties : DANGEROUS, DISTRESSING…4 a : SEVERE, HARD… b : BITING, PIERCING… 5 a : marked by cleverness, discernment or sagacity : ASTUTE, KEEN…

    ~ Webster’s Third New International Dictionary