Pro-Life Is Not An Isolated Position

I am a registered democrat, a sincere Christian, and I am going to vote. By doing so, I will take part in an imperfect system that gives us only two real choices for president and forces voters to compromise their ideals in one area or another, regardless of which side of the fence you’re on in relations to any given issue.

I am pro-life, but, this stance doesn’t limit my perspective to the issue of abortion. I am for the rights to life of the elderly, the hungry, the poor, the convicted, the innocent, the hungry, and the weak. A truly compassionate person expresses compassion toward the unborn, senior citizens who need medication to survive, children and adults starving in Africa, and death row inmates. Jesus Christ hung in pain, dying on a cross, next to two criminals and He had mercy on them as well as the people who put Him there just as I believe He has compassion on the unborn children whose lives have been robbed, most often, by parents who failed to recognize and acknowledge their rightful existence.

I can no more wholeheartedly endorse Barack Obama than I would be able to John McCain. Its just not that simple if viewed from a sincere, whole-Christianity, perspective. If you put any kind of effort into examining the multitude of information out there about the candidates’ voting records, campaign rhetoric, and the actual circumstances that exist in the world today, you may also find yourself bracing your head with both hands trying to keep it from spinning.

However, with all that being said and after a long time spent in personal debate and prayer, I have decided who I will vote for and I eventually made that decision using much of the same criteria described in the following Jim Wallace’s blog post:

My Personal ‘Faith Priorities’ for this Election

by Jim Wallis 10-23-2008

In 2004, several conservative Catholic bishops and a few megachurch pastors like Rick Warren issued their list of “non-negotiables,” which were intended to be a voter guide for their followers. All of them were relatively the same list of issues: abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, etc. None of them even included the word “poverty,” only one example of the missing issues which are found quite clearly in the Bible. All of them were also relatively the same as official Republican Party Web sites of “non-negotiables.” The political connections and commitments of the religious non-negotiable writers were quite clear.

I want to suggest a different approach this year and share my personal list of “faith priorities” that will guide me in making the imperfect choices that always confront us in any election year — and suggest that each of you come up with your own list of “faith” or “moral” priorities for this election year and take them into the voting booth with you.

After the last election, I wrote a book titled God’s Politics.  I was criticized by some for presuming to speak for God, but that wasn’t the point.  I was trying to explore what issues might be closest to the heart of God and how they may be quite different from what many strident religious voices were then saying.  I was also saying that “God’s Politics” will often turn our partisan politics upside down, transcend our ideological categories of Left and Right, and challenge the core values and priorities of our political culture. I was also trying to say that there is certainly no easy jump from God’s politics to either the Republicans or Democrats. God is neither. In any election, we face imperfect choices, but our choices should reflect the things we believe God cares about if we are people of faith, and our own moral sensibilities if we are not people of faith. Therefore, people of faith, and all of us, should be “values voters” but vote all our values, not just a few that can be easily manipulated for the benefit of one party or another.

In 2008, the kingdom of God is not on the ballot in any of the 50 states as far as I can see. So we can’t vote for that this year. But there are important choices in this year’s election — very important choices — which will dramatically impact what many in the religious community and outside of it call “the common good,” and the outcome could be very important, perhaps even more so than in many recent electoral contests.

I am in no position to tell anyone what is “non-negotiable,” and neither is any bishop or megachurch pastor, but let me tell you the “faith priorities” and values I will be voting on this year:

  1. With more than 2,000 verses in the Bible about how we treat the poor and oppressed, I will examine the record, plans, policies, and promises made by the candidates on what they will do to overcome the scandal of extreme global poverty and the shame of such unnecessary domestic poverty in the richest nation in the world. Such a central theme of the Bible simply cannot be ignored at election time, as too many Christians have done for years. And any solution to the economic crisis that simply bails out the rich, and even the middle class, but ignores those at the bottom should simply be unacceptable to people of faith.
  2. From the biblical prophets to Jesus, there is, at least, a biblical presumption against war and the hope of beating our swords into instruments of peace. So I will choose the candidates who will be least likely to lead us into more disastrous wars and find better ways to resolve the inevitable conflicts in the world and make us all safer. I will choose the candidates who seem to best understand that our security depends upon other people’s security (everyone having “their own vine and fig tree, so no one can make them afraid,” as the prophets say) more than upon how high we can build walls or a stockpile of weapons. Christians should never expect a pacifist president, but we can insist on one who views military force only as a very last resort, when all other diplomatic and economic measures have failed, and never as a preferred or habitual response to conflict.
  3. “Choosing life” is a constant biblical theme, so I will choose candidates who have the most consistent ethic of life, addressing all the threats to human life and dignity that we face — not just one. Thirty-thousand children dying globally each day of preventable hunger and disease is a life issue. The genocide in Darfur is a life issue. Health care is a life issue. War is a life issue. The death penalty is a life issue. And on abortion, I will choose candidates who have the best chance to pursue the practical and proven policies which could dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America and therefore save precious unborn lives, rather than those who simply repeat the polarized legal debates and “pro-choice” and “pro-life” mantras from either side.
  4. God’s fragile creation is clearly under assault, and I will choose the candidates who will likely be most faithful in our care of the environment. In particular, I will choose the candidates who will most clearly take on the growing threat of climate change, and who have the strongest commitment to the conversion of our economy and way of life to a cleaner, safer, and more renewable energy future. And that choice could accomplish other key moral priorities like the redemption of a dangerous foreign policy built on Middle East oil dependence, and the great prospects of job creation and economic renewal from a new “green” economy built on more spiritual values of conservation, stewardship, sustainability, respect, responsibility, co-dependence, modesty, and even humility.
  5. Every human being is made in the image of God, so I will choose the candidates who are most likely to protect human rights and human dignity. Sexual and economic slavery is on the rise around the world, and an end to human trafficking must become a top priority. As many religious leaders have now said, torture  is completely morally unacceptable, under any circumstances, and I will choose the candidates who are most committed to reversing American policy on the treatment of prisoners. And I will choose the candidates who understand that the immigration system is totally broken and needs comprehensive reform, but must be changed in ways that are compassionate, fair, just, and consistent with the biblical command to “welcome the stranger.”
  6. Healthy families are the foundation of our community life, and nothing is more important than how we are raising up the next generation. As the father of two young boys, I am deeply concerned about the values our leaders model in the midst of the cultural degeneracy assaulting our children. Which candidates will best exemplify and articulate strong family values, using the White House and other offices as bully pulpits to speak of sexual restraint and integrity, marital fidelity, strong parenting, and putting family values over economic values? And I will choose the candidates who promise to really deal with the enormous economic and cultural pressures that have made parenting such a “countercultural activity” in America today, rather than those who merely scapegoat gay people for the serious problems of heterosexual family breakdown.

That is my list of personal “faith priorities” for the election year of 2008, but they are not “non-negotiables” for anyone else. It’s time for each of us to make up our own list in these next 12 days. Make your list and send this on to your friends and family members, inviting them to do the same thing.

In biblical times Pharisees emphasized the letter of the law, traditional custom, and the social structure of their comfortable culture over the humanity that Christ acknowledged and loved in the dregs of society. Parallels, I think, can be drawn between the Pharisees that Jesus spoke against and people in America today who are too narrowly focused on legislating what is right to be able to see the larger picture and employ the faith necessary to actually do what is right.

Have faith and vote.

Obama on Abortion and Gay Marraige

A post on Christian author Don Miller’s blog about Obama’s stance on abortion and gay marraige. Miller is apparently travelling with the Obama campaign. The points Miller makes here have a lot to do with my own decision to turn my back on McCain’s “pro-life” stance.

The Most Important Of These

I’ve been maintaining a blog sporadically for a year and eight months now. Topics have included personal searching, music and literary reviews, praise for God, scripture study, politics, and family. As vehicles to convey my thoughts I’ve written essays, poems, and stream-of-consciousness dictations. But, after looking over the posts that I’ve put up over the last two or three months, I can recognize a trend that is a bit disturbing to me if I consider the possible consequences: Thematically, most of my posts have reflected the thoughts of a person consistently questioning life without conveying even a sense of the foundational hope that undergirds my ability to live in love with the wonder that, despite, the paces that I put myself through due to my own shortcomings, I find and enjoy each day.

I love, very deeply, my family, my Abba, and the millions of ways that He manifests Himself in and between the people and things around me. An understanding that I’ve come to (with a little help from C.S. Lewis) is the concept that the Holy Spirit is the love that exists flowing back and forth between the Father and the Son. So, in sending the Holy Spirit to us after His ascension into Heaven, He extended His love to us. The love that exists between my wife, my kids, and myself is also evidence of His love and, in fact, would not exist if it weren’t for the love and unearned favor of God. According to scripture, we can know of God’s presence in our life regardless of whatever emotions, feelings, or circumstances we may be grappling with at a given time:

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit…If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
~1 John 4:7-13, 15

Its because of the evidential love that I have for my family, a gift from God, that it is possible for me to have a consistent, foundational hope in He who I can’t necessarily see directly. It is that hope that sustains me during times when my only assurance seems to be that I’m not God and its just not possible for me to see everything from His perspective.

At a time when America’s core identity as a nation is in flux due to the economy, the election, and various other issues, it is comforting for me to consider the significance of the love that can and does exist in our own lives between friends, family, and neighbors. Through the love that He extends to us and the importance that He placed on the act of us loving others as ourselves, we can take comfort in His promise to us and the fact that we have not and never will be unloved.

I have been unfaithful
I have been unworthy
I have been unrighteous
And I have been unmerciful

I have been unreachable
I have been unteachable
I have been unwilling
And I’ve been undesirable

And sometimes I have been unwise
I’ve been undone by what I’m unsure of
But because of you
And all that you went through
I know that I have never been unloved

I have been unbroken
I have been unmended
I have been uneasy
And I’ve been unapprochable

I’ve been unemotional
I’ve been unexceptional
I’ve been undecided
And I have been unqualified

Unaware – I have been unfair
I’ve been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved

It’s because of you
And all that you went through
I know that I have never been unloved

”Never Been Unloved” (Micahel W. Smith, Wayne Kirkpatrick)

“Woe to you, Right Wing Christians, You Hypocrites”

I found this blog post “Woe to you, Right Wing Christians, you hypocrites,” to be an interesting read and I included a perspective of my own as one of the responses to it. I think this is a ripe conversation that needs to be hashed out for any truth-seeking Christian…or any other American for that matter…

Gulf vs. Golf

A dead-on commentary on Mr. Bush from Keith Olbermann can be found via a post from the Church of the Apocalyptic Kiwi: