Tuesday, March 22, 2005

20 Questions

Ok, so my writing/communication skills are admittedly lacking. Judging by the comments, I have left more questions than answers. Since I care about you, the dear reader, I will attempt to address them and hopefully clear up any confusion.

#1. I'm confused about your philosophy of combining politics and religion.
In one breath, you quote Castelli, seemingly implying that Christianity doesn't have a place in politics, then you say that abortion is wrong and the government shouldn't support it. I guess I don't get it.
How can you fight against abortion in the name of God through government but then abhor the thought of helping the "orphan and the widow" (James 1:27, Deut. 16:11, Deut. 16:14) because that's the "church's job"?

I quote Castelli just to illustrate that even those of the far left are recognizing that Wallis' political beliefs seem to support something nearing a theocracy. As I said in a previous post, "Life is the first gift He chooses to bestow on all of us, it's the universal gift. Therefore, it should be protected." Notice I also said in that post it was the most important. Meaning you can infringe on someone's liberty if that liberty will result in someone else losing his or her life. Society at large seems to share this belief. Murder is illegal. Murder laws (even in California) also protect fetuses!. I've never met nor heard of anyone proud that they got an abortion. Having a society that allows the death of a baby because someone couldn't take 5 seconds to put on a condom or pop a pill is a plague on all our houses. There are some things that are so wrong that one does not need to have "found religion" to know it. I think a good place to start is: "You shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." Not because they're from the Bible, but because they're so obvious, so universal that one only need a cursory consultation of their conscience to know it should not be done. Abortion is one of those. If one chooses to support abortion because they feel the baby would be better off dead than living in a slum, they are a fool. A pretentious, narrow-minded, short-sided fool. I cannot say it enough, (Also mentioned here) life is a gift from God. Without which, you can experience nothing or choose to give that gift back to God and find in return that you are granted life eternal. Life is (obviously) essential, and the right to it should be non-negotiable. Anyone who disagrees should ask the result had their parents been such strong proponents of it. Trust me, you caused anxiety and concessions, cost money and comfort. You were a burden, and not a short-term one. Yet, you're still here. Sorry, I was ranting.
Oh, and I do not "...abhor the thought of helping the "orphan and the widow"". What I abhor is someone petitioning the government to take our means to do a job that we should be doing.

#2. You're right that it's the job of the church to take care of the poor. I agree. But since I’m part of the government, can't I lobby to have the poor cared for? You may vote against it, and I may vote for it. But if more people vote for it, does that make it wrong? You had your say, I had mine. You yourself say that democracy is the form of government "God would have us choose." So if this God-ordained form of government chooses to help the poor, is it really a "moral issue"?
and Are you advocating a totally secular government? I don't think you are. If not, then why do you despise Wallis' program so much? I can't figure it out. This guy thinks he's charting a path toward a government that looks more like Jesus, and you're pissed because it's not in line with Sean Hannity. Explica, por favor.

For our friend "Wes the Libertarian", I would agree (on most issues, I would guess) that the best form of government would the democratic republic, it's probably just because it's the one with which I have the most experience, but mob rule does not warm my cockles either. I just think it's important that each citizen has a say. No taxation without representation. So when I say democracy, what I really mean is "democratic republic".
Now, as to why the government should not be in the business of creating and supporting a welfare state, I think it is a matter of the authoritative document. For me and how I live my life, I strive and hope that the Bible is the authoritative document. For our government, we have an authoritative document. It is called the Constitution. We are "blessed" to have a constitution which goes to great lengths to promote liberty and freedom of religion (at least it used to). At no point does the Constitution attempt to infringe on anything that might be addressed in my personal authoritative document, the Bible (at least it used not to). Because the Bible is reticent on a specific political philosophy, we are left to live out our faith in whatever type of government in which we find ourselves. Because ours is a government based on an authoritative document that allows us our freedoms, we are in the position of being able to trust even those who do not accept or adhere to the Bible but instead have the Constitution as their only "bible". We both have our freedoms, but I would hope that someone who proclaims to follow the teachings of Christ would use their freedoms differently. I also think it is important that those who claim to be Christians try not to enforce their will on those who do not. I believe it puts us in the morally inferior position of taking advantage of a group whose authoritative document is actually beneficial to us. If it does not restrict us in doing God's work, why change it? If that change would infringe on the rights of others currently protected, why do it? Because we can? I don't know Hannity's beliefs enough to know what he thinks nor his reasons behind them. But if he's conservative, and uses the Constitution as his authoritative document, I don't have to worry about it. His authoritative document protects me, too. The sad part would be if he thought my authoritative document did not protect him.
Now, if we were to find ourselves in a communist society or a dictatorship I think our personal faith, based on the Bible, would drive us to act our behalf and that of others. We recognize freedom is good. And to strive to give it to others is a noble endeavor. Not just out of personal gain, as non-believers might. But because God choose to grant it to us, and if we see others as God sees them, personal liberty is important for all.
So, you could use your power and create a government, which starts "charting a path toward a government that looks more like Jesus." But with Wallis, that means enacting more social programs that may or may not benefit society. Programs that the church is already addressing or should be addressing. Additions to social programs, especially those that address the poor, will invariably require more money from everyone else, most likely in higher taxes. Taking money that is not yours to give it to someone else is also called stealing, theft. It also detracts from the freedom of the taxee. So, am I supposed to believe that "Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune," (James 1:27) overrules "you shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15)? My political beliefs do not put the two at odds, Jim Wallis' does. I have often been told that "God loves the cheerful giver." If Wallis has his way I hope that it can be changed to "God loves the taxpayer."

#3. If it really is the "church's job" to take care of the poor, then the church needs to be radically re-envisioned, particularly the American church. We're spending millions of dollars on underground parking garages, new buildings, projectors, technology, etc., and that would clothe and feed a whole lot of people. How can we support such an extravagant church without being convicted of the needs of the poor? and I don't guess I understand what you mean when you say that Wallis doesn't differentiate between the church and the government (or something like that).
I could be apt to agree with you. And I would agree that it is a question that a church -- if it has not already-- should address. And when I said this in a previous post: "If 'A life of Christianity' replaced 'Prophetic politics' in this sentence: "...Prophetic politics would not be an endless argument between personal and social responsibility, but a weaving of the two together in search of the common good," Jim and I would have very few problems, but unfortunately for him it’s politics as usual.", I was saying just that. If Jim Wallis was bringing these issues before the church, attempting to make Christians more mindful of their place in society and their role as Christians commanded to take God's love and care for the least of these, I doubt I would find nary a reason not to support him. But he is not. When I say that Wallis doesn't differentiate, I mean just that. He only speaks to the role of the government. And I think you would agree that he wants it to mirror--I might say supercede-- the role of the church. He seems consumed by the idea of making "a government that looks more like Jesus." But no where does Jesus or the Bible compel us to do that. It does command us to care for the poor and to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matt 28:19-20). I think anyone that prioritizes "a government that looks more like Jesus" over trying to get fellow humans to "look more like Jesus" will get neither. And I fear that if they succeed in getting the government they want, it will be a government that looks very familiar to those who once were citizens of the now defunct U.S.S.R or East Germany. I guess I'm hoping that "God loves the cheerful giver" even if he chooses to "give" (or protect) liberty when he has the ability (or votes) to take it.

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