What business does a Christian have being a Conservative?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  (Romans 12:1-3)

I say, what business does a Christian have being a Conservative?  Yet what I really mean moves beyond that.  What business does a Christian have being a (big C) Conservative or a (big L) Liberal?  What business does a Christian have being a Republican or Democrat?  What business does a Christian have becoming embroiled in any political argument that involves taking sides and casting stones at the opposition?

This has been on my mind a lot lately.  There was a time, on this blog, where the tag line read something like, “YES!  I am a gay-affirming tree-hugging liberal Christian bleeding-heart left-wing-loony environmentalist nutjob!”  That was back in the day when both this blog, and I, were much younger.  I took on all of those titles as my own because they were initially cast at me as insults in comments on my post, and rather than being offended I just said, “yes!  I’m all of those things!  And I don’t care what judgment you make of me as a result, I’m proud to have earned your insults.”

Yet I was being naive, and if I could go back and do it all over my approach may have been different.  After all, those accusations said more about the person commenting than they did about me, and my response was in it’s own way a judgment.  Why throw up my hands and behave as if there was nothing I could do or say but simply agree, “yes, I’m a liberal nutjob.  So what?”

All of those labels refer to things of this world.  They refer to political stances and loyalties that come out of our government and political debate.  They have nothing to do with faith or adherence to God.  By allowing myself to be labeled, or labeling myself, I ceased to be speaking just as a Christian and instead became just another voice in the gay-affirming tree-hugging liberal Christian bleeding-heart left-wing-loony environmentalist nutjob crowd.  Even with “Christian” thrown in there, the label of Christian didn’t really reflect my own identity in God, it reflected a series of assumptions about who I must be that the world cast on my and I continuously fought against.  There were times where I found myself fighting against my self-assigned tags.

I know Christians who espouse some liberal views, but those views are rooted in their faith.  I know some Christians who espouse some conservatives values, and those values are rooted in their faith.  I know some Christians who espouse some liberal and some conservative views simultaneously and don’t feel that there is any conflict between the views.  I also know Christians who identify as (big C) Conservatives and (big L) Liberals, and this is where things get sticky.  The Conservative crowd and the Liberal crowd out there in the world do not reflect the intent of God.  They have a platform and a list of loyalties that are at their very core worldly.  By fighting to defend Liberalism or Conservatism you inevitably end up in a position where it becomes about weakening and demoralizing the other side.  I cringe in my very bones every time I see a Christian saying something like “liberals just want more government handouts” or “conservatives will take away your rights.”

Excuse me?

When you say something like that, you just took off your Christianity.  You are not speaking words of love or redemption.  Your mind isn’t renewed.  You are in the world, speaking of the things of this world, and your loyalty in those words is not to the Creator who wishes the redemption of all creation but to a political party.

The conservative platform, while in parts reflective of God’s nature, does not contain the entirety of God’s will.  How could it?  It is of the world.  The same is true of the liberal platform.  In fact, both of those platforms (as well as the Republican and Democratic) eventually come to the point where what they ask you to adhere to is antithetical to adhering to God’s word.  Not only that, but to take on the label at some point there must be an assumption that one group is right and the other is wrong.  Such haughtiness contradicts the kind of attitude a Christian is supposed to have, one of ‘not thinking better of one’s self’ and seeking God’s mind above our own.

If our minds are renewed, we ought to transcend such petty labels and the arguments they birth.  While our lives as Christians may at times demand our involvement in political debates, we cannot forget who we are.  Our loyalty to God and each other must, at all times, be first and foremost.  When two people who claim allegiance to the same creator start tearing into each other as Republicans and Democrats, the faith is shamed.

It’s something to think about.

Christianity, Israel, and Foreign Policy

So there is a huge movement in Christianity that encourages a kind of carte blanche support for Israel.  The reasoning goes like this:  God instituted the state of Israel with his blessing.  Christians who support Israel take part in that blessing, and those that don’t won’t.  This movement terrifies me, because you don’t have to dig very deep to find scary little artifacts of terror.  Google around and you’ll find Christians supporting preemptive strikes, Christians saying that Jerusalem indisputably is the Capital of Israel, and so on.  Even Mitt Romney seems to be on that boat, given his remarks about Jerusalem during his visit to Israel, and the fact that he’s hinted he would support a preemptive strike on Iran.

But are Christians obligated to support Israel in everything it does?  I doubt it.  If that belief is based off of the fact that Israel is the “Chosen land” promised to Abraham I feel the need to go no further than Israel’s history of being captured, burnt to the ground, decimated, imprisoned and exiled throughout the old Testament.  God never gave the nation of Israel carte blanche support when they ignored His leadership, why should we?  If the argument is that in the New Testament you see Christians that honored the Jews receiving the greatest/first blessing, my response is with Romans 10:12 and Galatians 3:28- there is no longer Jew or Gentile.  We are all the chosen children of God, and that includes all of the Christians in Iran, too.  Would God really want His children in Israel given thoughtless approval to kill His children in Iran?  I really don’t think so.  If the argument is that Jerusalem itself is sacred and Jesus went to Jerusalem “first”, I would like to point out that the curtain in the temple was torn at Jesus’ death and that the amazing thing about Jesus sacrifice was it got rid of the need for a sacred home for God’s presence on earth.  Jerusalem is no longer the holy seat of our faith, our own seat is so to speak.  We are the temple of God, now.  His holy city is all around us.

The problem with uniform, thoughtless support for Israel is that it ignores the wide reaching implications of our choices. Israel as a nation does not get a free pass to flout the laws of God in favor of self-preservation.  Christians that support such actions risk doing evil in the eyes of God.  If Israel’s actions lead to a preemptive strike against Iran and the death of tens of thousands, can we really, truly believe that is in God’s plan?

For those that believe the Israeli/Arab conflict is part of the Book of Revelations and that this whole thing is inevitable anyway, all I can say is that no man can know the time or the place.  Such devastation is nothing that any man should wish for or pray for or support, and should it come in our lifetime I wouldn’t consider it a blessing.

I support the faith.  I support my Christian brothers and sisters.  I support the cause of love, peace, stability, constancy, grace, sharing, and comfort.  I do not support war.

That’s all I can say.

Who I am and what I’m not.

Yes, I am a Christian.  For a long time I didn’t self-identify as a Christian because I hated the fact that people would always make certain assumptions about me.  One instance stands out particularly in my mind.  I saw a table that said “Friends of the GLBT” at the associations, groups, and clubs event my first week in college.  Something prompted me to go over and strike up a conversation with the handful of students sitting there.  At first the conversation was great, but then someone made a disparaging comment about the Evangelical group.  Even though I wasn’t sure about what I believed, I felt a chill.  I wanted to say “not every Christian is like that,” but I was worried that the moment I did I would paint myself as sleeping with the enemy.

That moment is iconic of the choice I’ve had to make every day since I came back to my faith.  Do I say I’m a Christian, and allow people to make false assumptions about what I believe?  Do I say I’m a Christian and try to create a new paradigm?  One in which someone who acts evangelical (as opposed to Is An Evangelical) isn’t a gay-bashing anti-choice gun-totin’ Bible-bangin’ war-lovin’ conservative-votin’ unimaginative non-intellectually-inquisitive probably secretly scared-of-everything uh…  you get the point.  The assumptions people make about someone who is vocally Christian aren’t always the kindest.  And in many ways, I’m the opposite of many of the stereotypes.  So, for the record, let me be clear about what I am and am not:

  • I don’t think gay people are the enemy of society.  I like my gay and lesbian friends, and only want them to change if they want to.  Honestly, the complexity of this one is way too much to fit into a single bullet point, so suffice it to say this:  I don’t think gay people are the problem, I think judgmental and legalistic attitudes are.
  • I’m politically pro-choice.  Personally, I’m pro-life.  I could never imagine a circumstance in which I would have an abortion.  But that doesn’t mean that I want to tell other women what to do with their bodies and their lives- there is no ethical argument to keep an unborn child that doesn’t rely on faith in God, so a secular society should allow women to have choice.
  • I’m a registered Democrat, mostly because I wanted to vote in the last Presidential Primaries.  In my time as a registered voter, I’ve actually voted for both Republicans and Democrats.  I believe in voting based off of who you’re voting for and what their record shows, not based off of party.  Just do not tell me I’m a Republican who’s afraid of change.  I will end you.
  • Guns scare me.
  • I don’t believe the Bible should be used as a weapon. It is for worship, for exhortation, for meditation, for the strengthening of the body…  not for destruction.
  • I don’t believe in quoting the Bible to people who don’t read it. Which is why I so rarely quote it on my blog, and why fellow Christians sometimes assume I don’t read it.  I do, I just think that Christians should be able to make logical arguments without spraying Bible verses into the fray like bird shot.
  • I’m a pacifist. I was raised in the Anabaptist tradition, which means I was raised with a keen awareness of the multitude of people who were martyred for the Faith.  Martyred, that is, at the hands of the Catholic church, which leads to:
  • I believe that people should be able to worship God as they wish- no matter how much you disagree with them.  Not everyone agrees on all the tenants of faith.  I don’t think I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m more likely to believbe that we are all wrong. 
  • I actually do have an imagination, really I do. In my other lives I am a novelist and a jewelry designer.  I have no fear of thinking creatively.
  • I have no fear of other religions.  In fact, I study Buddhism and live out some of it’s practices.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Dalhi Lama.  I respect anyone who practices their faith with compassion for others, regardless of what their faith is.  I think Christianity could learn an awful lot from other religions.
  • I have no fear of being questioned. Don’t believe me?  Question me.  Debate me.  If I can’t argue my faith rationally, I don’t want to have it.
  • I have no fear of being wrong. I’ve done it before and it didn’t hurt too badly.  If I am forced to examine a belief and find it lacking, so be it.  Better that I know now than go through my entire life mistaken.

My name is Lindsey.  I am a Christian.

And I may be a pacifist, but if I ever met Fred Phelps, I’d probably have to drop kick him in the balls.

Just so we’re clear on things.