Make no mistake, when it comes to politics, I am not left leaning nor “liberal.” Those terms are fast losing meaning, but when I think about social issues and politics, I know that I do not fall in line with many of the ideas that my Democrat friends suggest. I am not going to list all of them, but I will simply say that I believe that many of the “freedoms” and “rights” that Democrats advocate are, in fact, enslaving people. And I’m equally concerned that many in this left-winged contingent talk a lot about “equal rights” but clearly intend to silence any and all voices suggesting some form of morality that transcends what is decided by popularity. There is, as I see it, a concerted effort to silence any voice that suggests there is a Creator who has sovereign rule over all of creation. Christians are not the only victims of this too. It’s fast becoming popular to talk out of both sides of the mouth. One side says people need to be equal and allowed the freedom of expression and out the other side of the mouth are made statements to reduce any and all influence from Jews, Christians, and Muslims (and others). So please do not accuse me of being a “liberal” by what I am about to say.
I’ve seen several posts on social media advocating a picture as a “way forward” in terms of political policy. It looks like this:
I’m not opposed to people having the freedom to express these ideas as their opinions on political policies. I am thankful that people can do that. What I want to do is interact with these ideas as a Christian who takes Scripture seriously and who is more committed to the kingdom of God than to a specific country/government. I intend to provide a “play by play” through each of the statements on this little ditty of an image.
First, I’m in agreement about Obama (kind of). I would much rather have someone better than him in power. But if him being gone means someone else takes his place who is worse than he, I’m fine with Obama staying. Yet no matter what I think about who is currently in power, I must resign myself to trust that God has some sort of sovereign plan at work with Obama being President. After all, the apostle Paul wrote,
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Rom. 13:1-2)
This does not mean Christians shouldn’t participate in the political process and vote according to the convictions. We should. God works through means and in our country, God works through people to elevate people into power. So we should continue to vote accordingly. But at the end of the day, Obama didn’t side step God’s plan and back door himself into the presidency leaving God confused or frustrated.
Second, I do not know what “Borders: Closed!” means. As a Christian who is commanded to love my neighbors and to care for the oppressed and the poor, I find great reason to disagree with this simplistic statement. Our immigration policies are broken and the system has failed. It’s easy to be opposed to immigration when all that you hear is that a bunch of terrorists are trying to sneak into our country to blow us up with nuclear weapons or that all immigrants are violent criminals seeking to kill Americans. The problem is that such a picture is simply untrue. The overwhelming vast majority of immigrants are simply looking for a better way of life for themselves and their families. Many of them are leaving very dangerous and oppressive situations in their native country. I am compelled by Scripture to love them, care for them, and to advocate their future. It’s easy to sit in my easy chair in my warm house as I oppose immigration reform. It’s much more difficult to do so if I take into account all that the Bible has to say on loving my neighbors and caring for the poor and oppressed. And it’s become equally difficult when I meet people who are suffering from injustice in other countries or who are living in the U.S. as immigrants who are treated poorly by our “system.”
Third, the only reason why the United States officially speaks English is because of our British heritage. If the French had won, we’d be speaking French. I thank God every day that the French did not win, as my two years of French were painful and discouraging towards language acquisition. Anyway, I’m not opposed to having an “official” language per say. It makes sense that there would be a common language that is officially used at the federal and state level. I just am uncomfortable with the thinking that is often behind statements like this. For some Americans, there is an assumption that “American” equals “Better” and all other cultures should be minimized and assumed to be negative. As a Christian, I long for the future day when Jesus shall be exalted in every language on earth (Rev. 5:9). Plus, it seems awfully ignorant to forget that our country was created by people from all over the world. The United States was settled by people from many different countries and many different languages were spoken regularly (Dutch, German, Chinese, etc.). And if we really want to go back to the “way it was,” I think we should make the official language that of the Native Americans who lived here long before the Europeans got here and stole their land from them and destroyed their cultures. Oh, and guess what? There were many languages used by the Native Americans. My concern is that most of the “Let’s speak American” type of rhetoric is really just anti-Hispanic. The census of 2011 found that there were 52,045,277 Hispanic and Latino Americans, making up 16.7% of the U.S. population. That sure seems like a lot of people and the numbers are growing quickly. Oh, and don’t be surprised if Chinese becomes and official language in the future because we owe them a lot of money!
Fourth, I don’t even know what is meant by “Culture: U.S. Constitution & The Bill of Rights.” Is this an argument to go back to the social culture of the 1700’s? If so, are they suggesting that we should return to slavery and women losing their rights? What about the use of 21st century technology like Facebook (where this image appears)? A statement like this may mean a lot of things, so I don’t want to jump to conclusions because maybe it’s simply intended to suggest that we should do all that we can to ensure that our nation adheres to the legislated policies and founding documents. My one concern is that Christians have a much higher authority than a few pieces of paper that were written by men and are shaped by popular demand. Our authority is God. My allegiance to country is always going to be transcended by my allegiance to Jesus.
Fifth, I’m not sure what to think about requiring people who receive social help being drug free. In some ways that makes perfect sense. And in other ways, it’s kind of making a lot of assumptions. Plus, what kind of care are we talking about? Are we talking about food or money? You see, that’s my big gripe with this simplistic image that is spreading around on the walls of many Christians. It doesn’t adequately clarify it’s positions. I have personal experience with drug addicts and can tell you that some of those addictions are far more powerful than people may understand. It’s not as simple as waking up and making a choice to do drugs. Some of the drugs that are out there are physically (and mentally!) controlling! And many drug users are victims, sadly (e.g., children who grow up to be adults). If we are talking about giving people food to eat, let’s feed them. If we are talking about giving them cash so they can buy more drugs, let’s not. And let’s have a lot of clarification about what exactly is meant here.
Sixth, my issue with “no freebies to non-citizens” falls into line with what I previously said about #2. Interestingly, did you know that a lot of “freebies” (i.e., LAND!!!!) was given to non-citizens when this country started? And did you know that all of that land was stolen? Hmmm.
Seventh, I agree that there needs to be balanced budgets, tax-reform, and term limits on politicians. No criticisms here.
So what’s my big gripe? I want us, as Christians, to be careful in what we post and repost and “like” and comment on. I think there can be serious flaws to over-simplifying political issues in a way that devalues the authority of Scripture and the ignores the social concerns of Jesus and the prophets (i.e., the poor and oppressed). Let’s search for a deeper and more life-giving answer than “Republican” or “Democrat” or “Tea Party.” Let’s look to Jesus, the founder and protector of our faith (Heb. 12:2).
What do you think? Am I making this too complicated or over-simplifying the issue? What say you?
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.