Sunday, November 09, 2008

THE REAL MEANING OF "PRO-LIFE" POLITICS: More thoughts on the election and the sanctity of life issue

I've always had a problem with the so-called pro-life agenda of the Republican party, as I've always found it very hypocritical. If someone wants to imply that they're pro-life, then I would assume they mean that they place a value on the sanctity of human life...all human life, not just the unborn. Unfortunately, this same political party seems to care little about death by war, genocide and starvation. If conservative Christians want to vote for a candidate who treats all life as precious, then they're going to have to quit supporting an expeditionary war in Iraq, start demanding that we get involved in the Sudan and Tanzania, and stop spending 12 billion a month on war and start spending it on feeding the 28,000 people who die every day from lack of food. A candidate who did all these things, as well as protected the rights of the unborn, would be a true pro-life candidate. Neither candidate in the 2008 Presidential elections fit the bill on this point.

And if you're a conservative Christian who is about to reply in anger to me, please hold off for a second...I'm not finished. Liberal Christians who support abortion need to examine their own motives as well. Once again, we see hypocrisy in their political agenda as well. Many support banning the death penalty and nearly all insist that we get out of Iraq, and most wail about the number of civilian deaths caused by the war in Iraq. I happen to agree with these points as they are definitely "pro-life" issues, but can't agree that killing a living fetus is somehow not included in the equation.

So why the inconsistency between the two ideologies? I'm not sure, but I can only assume it's because they haven't really thought it over. I'm not trying to wag my finger or pass judgment, only offer an observation. I'm a relatively conservative Christian in most respects, but as I grow in my faith, the glaring contradictions that I see in both political platforms just jumps out at me.

Perhaps that's the answer right there. I think as we each move closer and closer to following the example of Christ, we see that no worldly state government is going to reflect the true values of Christ. In fact, to really be a follower of Christ requires us to reject much of the rhetoric coming from both parties.

In the end, I supported Obama simply because I thought he'd be the best fit overall for these pro-life issues (war, starvation and genocide), even though he supports a woman's right to choose. As Obama pointed out, nobody is "pro-abortion," so instead of arguing, we should be looking for a way to reduce them drastically. I do believe that even if abortion was outlawed, people would still get them (they always did before Roe v. Wade, so there's no reason to believe it would stop if it was overturned). In the end, the only way to reduce abortions is to change the way people think, and the change of thought must be by choice, not by rote of law. Christ is the answer, and until we can share the Good News without being judgmental or hypocritical, we're probably not going to make much progress.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

THE SANCTITY OF LIFE: A Consistent Ethic of Life from the Unborn to Baghdad

I have struggled at times to express my feelings about the sanctity of life issue, and why all of us, believers or not, should strive to find establish a universal, consistent ethic for life. I think I just found a piece that describes the issue in words both beautiful and bittersweet.

I've always enjoyed the approach of Sojourners and the guest writers who frequent the magazine and website, and in this piece by Rev. Omar Al-Rikabi, a Methodist minister, I've discovered (for myself, anyway) another powerful voice on the value of life, and I just wanted to share it. Al-Rikabi, the son of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, chose the way of Christ, and has much to share. It's my hope that anyone reading this will take the time to read his post on the God's Politics blog on the Sojourner website, as well as visit his own fascinating blog, First Born Son. I like it so much that I'm adding it to my own links list.

While on the subject of other's blogs, I would also like to recommend Bold Grace, which I have also started following and enjoy very much. In simple, broad terms, the five writers on this site drive home the point that God's love is so beyond our comprehension that we do God a great disservice by trying to force Him into a concept that we can grasp more easily. Read Bold Grace, and embrace the immense power of a God without limits. (Note to Bruce and Geo: if I've misinterpreted your goal, please correct me!)

Monday, November 03, 2008

PHARISEES AMONG US: Why we must always be vigilant about our "holier than thou" attitudes

It's with some trepidation that I write this, as I don't want to be accused of judging anyone unfairly. But I also feel the need to speak up when I see someone using the platform of Christianity to launch attacks that are not very Christ-like in nature. What follows is a perfect example, and I feel it should be exposed.

Much has been made of the hateful “Letter from 2012 in Obama's America" recently posted on the “Focus on the Family” website of Dr. James Dobson. The thrust of this fictional letter, aside from its mean-spirited attack against a Christian by a man who claims to be a Christian, is the notion that Christianity itself is under attack. But is it really Christianity that's under attack, or is it a warped and twisted version of it that's suffering the slings and arrows of an angry public that's simply fed up with glaring hypocrisy?

One of the most worrisome things I see in modern America is the trend by some evangelical groups (such as Focus on the Family) to constantly complain about "attacks on Christianity."

I'm a Christian who happens to disagree with the claim of Christianity being under attack. The only thing I see under attack is cultural Christianity (institutionalized, compromised Christianity), but nowhere have I seen the real message of Christ coming under attack.

And that's the much of what passes as "mainstream Christianity" in this country barely resembles the true message of Christ. One of the reasons non-believers (and quite a few Christians) are so adamantly opposed to people like Dobson is that the thrust of his message bears little resemblance to a message that preaches "loving one another as God loves us, treating your neighbor as you wish to be treated, forgiving so that you may be forgiven, and showing mercy so that you may be shown mercy." Please show me in Dobson's message where this message of Christ is in play. It's nowhere to be found. So it's not really Christianity that's under attack, it's a horribly twisted corruption of it that's under attack....and well it should be.

One thing that's always surprised me is that even non-believers tend to know what Christ stood for and what He preached...and when they don't see so-called Christians living up to those standards themselves, they have every right to cry foul. One of the most instructive passages in the New Testament is Christ's admonition to not point out someone else's sin while ignoring your own. To wag our fingers while ignoring our own transgressions is a demonstration of spiritual blindness, not enlightenment.

I do agree with the point of Dobson's work, but disagree with how he attacks the issue. There is a definite collapse of the family and its function, and it's something we should all work to preserve, believers of otherwise. But Dobson ignores the real issue of the collapse of marriage and family values. According to a recent Barna Group poll, evangelical Christians have one of the highest divorce rates in the country (25%), and that's a sin that Christ actually spoke about in detail, while never mentioning homosexuality. Yet Dobson and his gang quietly downplay this glaring "sin" of divorce since it applies to millions of heterosexual couples, and instead attack homosexuals as a prime reason for the breakdown of traditional marriage and family values. What hypocrisy! This hypocrisy becomes even more evident when you consider that his own son recently divorced. Where was the outrage from Focus on the Family? This anger with Dobson and his tactics has led many local Colorado residents (FOTF is located in Colorado) to place bumper stickers on their cars that read: "Focus on your own Family!"

Until so-called Christians start living like Christians and actually following Christ's commandments delivered in the New Testament, I think we'll continue to see these groups complain about "attacks on Christianity." But as long as they cling to Old Testament legalism to compare themselves to others (something Christ condemned the Pharisees for), I doubt anything will change. I think some people find it much more convenient to see themselves as suffering martyrs, while burying their heads in the sand and refusing to see the extent of their own hypocrisy. Christ's message was one of gathering us all to Him through endless, unconditional Love, a love that never quits. I see quite the opposite happening within many so-called Christian groups. These groups should be in our prayers, as we pray that the Lord will expose our own hypocrisies to us as well.