The Bible Tells Me So

There is a simple error: you cannot be part of a community, if you don’t agree with all the ideas in it.

I am Republican, the son of Republican, the grandson of a Republican, and the great-grandson of a Republican. I could continue all the way back to Mr. Lincoln and the Reynolds who left his plow in the field and went to fight for Lincoln and liberty.

And yet I am also the son of a Christian couple, the grandson of Christian couples, the great-grandson of Christian couples, back as far as we can trace.

At no point have my parents or my grandparents ever been confused on one point: we are Republicans by convenience and heritage, but Christians because Jesus is real, risen from the dead, and in charge of everything.

Being a Christian and a member of any political party always produces tension, so much so that my chief temptation is to give up. How I envy my pastor who is forbidden by canon law from engaging in politics! This is particularly the case, since I love politics and rooting for “my team” almost as much as I love the Packers and rooting for them.

Almost: I wouldn’t trade Rich Campbell for John McCain- the first broke my sporting heart but was entertaining, the second just broke my heart.

Loving politics without loving it too much makes a hard task harder: I want to pay too much attention to “winning” and too little to truth.

One way of being accountable to my deepest beliefs has been writing about them. My Democratic friends often (gently) suggest reexamination of certain assumptions. A second discipline is summarizing where my Christian faith, what the Bible tells me, disagrees with GOP mainstream views.

I want to be Orthodox and not GOP orthodox.

So at the moment, here is where my GOP friends (at least many of them) will find my views “out of touch” with a few sentences to justify my “deviancy.” Of course, just as I am open to my left-of-center political friends, Reason demands heeding arguments that shift me ever rightward!

First, my reading of Scriptures leaves me friendly to the “alien and stranger.” Christian tradition is all but “open border.” The Christian in Mexico is after all a brother or sister in Christ . . . a tie deeper than a mere passport. While there must be control of our borders, law abiding people are not our problem. It is good that people wan to move to our nation. Let’s punish the criminals, tighten the border process, and then openly rejoice when people want to join the nation.

Second, while I am not opposed to the death penalty in all cases, I am not in favor of it in the US in most cases. The death penalty is necessary in very poor nations or migrant populations. The default for a Christian is to preserve the dignity and life of each human being, even while a criminal is being punished. Modern prisons can keep prisoners away from citizens efficiently and safely and so the death penalty is less necessary.

The system also seems stacked against minorities in applying the death penalty .

Prisoners who kill in prison and certain crimes against society (such as the murder of police) may justify the death penalty.

Of course, American prisons are also terrible and need a massive infusion of money and talent. Nobody is for “Club-Fed,” but no prisoner should fear for their safety or sanity in an American lockup.

Third, I am not an economic libertarian and have no more tolerance for Ayn Rand than she had for C.S. Lewis. Greed isn’t good and selfishness is a bad motive for any activity. No Christian can live to make money and no Christian should force workers to live as if money is the only good. 

Fourth, I favor an armed public, but I do not think there is an absolute right to arms. In most cases an armed public is a good idea, but it is not always a good idea. Some limits on gun ownership are acceptable and it is the job of politics to do the messy work of deciding which are prudent and which are too intrusive on human liberty.

As a Christian, I know no “rights” are absolute. Liberty is good, but in a fallen world law must check liberty or it will destroy us. Finding the balance is always going to be a muddle, which is why Christians do not think any political program or system will “solve” all our problems or lead to a final victory over sin and wretchedness.

Fifth, conservation of natural resources requires national and even international regulation. Technology gives my neighbor the power to foul the air and water before the free market could deal with him. Sane enforcement of community standards: our cleaner water and air following these regulations proves this.

Christians are called to creation care and it is (again) a prudential decision how much regulation is enough or how much is too much. Perfectly clean water, or saving every species, may not be worth the prosperity that ends a certain amount of human suffering. These hard calls cannot be pre-determined by any ideology.

Sixth, I oppose torture in all cases and most forms of enhance interrogation techniques. Christians came to this view after hard experience. Torture, and actions close to torture, have not been worth the cost.

Finally, I support a strong social safety net. Like Ronald Reagan, I applaud the good done by programs such as Social Security that have done so much to ease poverty that used to be even more common in old age than it is now. Like Reagan, I know such programs require examination and sound management. We cannot afford every good . . . and too much government would choke our liberty and the spirit of innovation.

However, some form of medical care, food, and housing are basic human needs. If liberty cannot supply them, then a Christian society must do what it can to make up the failure with a combination of public and private charity.

Here I am, for the moment, but I could do otherwise! God help me as I look at the hard choices of living in a fallen world with the powers and responsibilities of a free man.  May my politics always do as little harm as possible.

 

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