Okay, Let’s Try and Talk Politics

Polling Station HereWith the conventions inching upon us (and VP nominees to come), November will probably be here before we know it. I believe discussing politics is important, if for no other reason then to be actively in touch with our society. I have friends that think it is our ethical duty and Christian obligation to vote, and others who have the same motivations to abstain from voting. I know some here are staunch democrats, others Republican, and a few third party stragglers.

What I want to begin writing and dialogging about here is not primarily about Obama and McCain and the ’08 Elections, though I’m sure that will be discussed. What I’d like to do mostly is to discuss the issues, ones that are hot button issues for many Christians. I’d like to discuss the political system, voting, parties, and our role in general. I’d like to try and articulate some of where I am at currently, but in an honest and open way, that is willing to change. More then anything though, I’d like to talk about these things in a way that acknowledges that whoever is elected president in November, our votes, and political process is not the primary way we display or further our Christianity. I think being an active citizen is important, but it pales in comparision to the importance of living out our Christian faith.

Voting for a democratic candidate who supports universal healthcare does not negate our churches duties to care for the sick, the poor, the orphan and the widow.

Voting for an anti-abortion republican candidate does not relieve us Christians of our call to support, love and care for women and their children from pregnancy onward.

Voting, elections, candidates, all of these are issues of the kingdom of the world. They are things we are free to be involved in, but they are not how we are to show or spread the love of Christ.

5 thoughts on “Okay, Let’s Try and Talk Politics”

  1. I agree with your statements noted in bold.

    As I have posted here before, I agree that there are those among us who we as Christians should help, to include widows, orphans, the helpless, etc.

    What I disagree with is the idea that because these are groups that we Christians believe we should help, therefore we as Christians should vote for and work for governmental systems that take money by force from all citizens, and then gives it to those who we believe should be helped.

    Put another way, just because I think that, say, I should help an orphan with my time or money, that does not mean that I should force my neighbor to help that orphan.

    It just seems to me that voting in such a way as to see to it that the government taxes some people for the benefit of others is the same as me personally going to my neighbor and making him give me money that I would then use to benefit someone else. It would be wrong for me to make my neighbor give me that money, so why is it not wrong for me to vote for candidates who will do the same thing, only through payroll deduction?

    This leaves aside the additional arguments against government run benevolence, such as the fact that governments tend to be inefficient at providing benefits, not to mention corruption and the like.

    Someone tell me why it is right? Not why it is right to help people, but why it is right that I should take money (directly, or by voting for those who take money by taxes) from my neighbors to help people?

  2. The thing is, Aaron, if each of us only payed for the things that we want to pay for then many important things would go unpaid for. Should only those who drive cars pay for roads or should we all pitch in? Should only parents of school aged children pay for schools? If so, are we ok with poor children having no opportunities for education? Should we just have bookstores and video stores for the well of to have access to information or is it a good thing to pool our money into libraries so that all can have that access. The question as I see it is not should I force my neighbor to pay for benevolence, but what do we, as a society, believe we should pool our resources to provide to those who need it? I believe that everyone should have access to health care so I will vote accordingly. My belief that all should have access to health care is undergirded by my Christian beliefs. I understand that other will see a different way to live out those same beliefs, but for me a single payer health care system seems to be the only way that we will achieve coverage for all.

    Part of being a citizen of any community is pooling your resources in ways that the community has seen fit to provide things that individuals would be unable to provide on their own.

    My question for you is how do we make sure that everyone has adequate and affordable health care without involving the government?

  3. Aaron, let me start by saying that in the many many conversations with people who are staunch republicans, I’ve never heard this position before. Your point, which I largely resonate with, is by far and away the most legitimate reason I’ve ever heard for a small government, and I largely agree with you.

    Indie, I think you definitely hit on a great point about what the role of government could/should look like:
    “Part of being a citizen of any community is pooling your resources in ways that the community has seen fit to provide things that individuals would be unable to provide on their own.”

    I’m hoping to address these things a bit more in future posts. I’ll be curious of both your thoughts on tomorrows post.

  4. Indie –

    Just a thought to see what you think. We are all familiar with the idea that religion and politics should be separate.

    You note that your support for taxpayer funded universal healthcare comes partly from your Christian faith.

    So, what part of your faith leads you to believe that healtcare should be paid for by taxation and provided to all?

    Also, isn’t that an instance of trying to impose your religious beliefs on others through the power of the State.

    I know tone is hard to convey in writing, so let me be clear that there is no snarkiness intended. I’m seriously asking so I can understand where you are coming from.

  5. I get what you’re saying Aaron. It seems to me, as a Christian, that if we have the ability to give others the opportunity to be healthy, but we choose not to because they don’t have enough money, that it is a sin in the same way that the priest and the Levite passing the wounded man in the good Samaritan story was sin. In my church we often pray this prayer:

    Most merciful God,
    we confess that we have sinned against you
    in thought, word, and deed,
    by what we have done,
    and by what we have left undone.
    We have not loved you with our whole heart;
    we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
    We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
    For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
    have mercy on us and forgive us;
    that we may delight in your will,
    and walk in your ways,
    to the glory of your Name. Amen.
    —The Book of Common Prayer, page 360

    We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves when we seek something so basic as health for ourselves without a care to whether our neighbors have that same access.

    Now, according to the constitution, the government does not have the right to adopt a religion and force it upon the people, however, I, as an individual, have the right to vote my conscious which is based on my faith. I’m not forcing my faith on anyone and neither is the government in this case. If the government chooses to provide universal health care it will be because a majority of its citizens or their representatives felt that it was a reasonable thing to provide.

    Now I personally believe that a universal health care system would have flaws, but I believe it would be better than what we’ve got and its the only way that I can envision getting it done. The mode of providing health care for all isn’t based on my faith. The principle that all deserve adequate health care because all are made in the image of God is what is based on my faith.

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