I used to count myself in your number, right wing Christians. I used to buy into the fallacy that to be a “good Christian” I had to fall in line with conservative political policies. I came of age in the era of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority” movement. They did a masterful job of wresting control of the American political narrative for Christians. I bought in, despite the fact that I came from a long line of Christian Democrats. I was actually placed in a position where, for a few years of my young adult life, I actually questioned the faith of my own family–devout Christians who resided well left of center on the political spectrum. Conservative Christianity had kidnapped me–but I wriggled free and can’t go back. I began to reconsider what a Christian is supposed to be. I began to listen to voices from the left–people I respected greatly who disagreed with many of my political stances. Frankly, most of the best educated and most intelligent people I knew were standing pretty far to my left.
How could all those people be so wrong?
I began to look more exclusively to Christ as the example. When I began to take a critical look at my political beliefs and stack them against the example of what Jesus actually said and did, I began to see things much differently. I began a slow but steady shift to the left. I still have many friends to the left of me–but I have moved much closer to them. I also have the unique position of having great understanding and empathy for those more conservative Christian friends among whom I once dwelled. My process of growth has not made me any more certain in my theological footing–in fact, I am full of more questions than certainty–but it has made me more confident that my approach better reflects the love of Christ and, to me, that’s far more important.
What follows is a defense of five of my political stances as a Christian and why I have come to the conclusion that the current approach of right wing Christians is wrong–even if they could possibly be right theologically.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality . . . He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.
Look, I understand that having millions of undocumented immigrants running around presents lots of problems. However, the fact that so many are undocumented points to problems within the system we have in place to allow immigrants a path towards citizenship. That system is a tangled mess, causing many immigrants to fall into a hopeless situation. Many are forced to wait many years for a chance to become legal. Many of those waiting endlessly already have a lot of family who are here legally. We need to address this problem. Yet, most right wing Christians I know are pretty quick to line up with the Trump administration and its strict and rather heartless approach to the immigration problem.
What would Jesus say about the repeal of DACA, for instance? I believe that Jesus would stand in firm opposition to the Trump administration’s policies. It could be argued that Jesus, himself, was in a position much like some of the DACA “dreamers” from the outset of his life on earth. Jesus was taken to Egypt to flee from the policies of King Herod who was intent on killing the male infants of Israel. I believe that Jesus would have a strong heart for undocumented immigrants–especially the children who so often get caught up in the situation without any control over it.
This one is a tough one for a lot of Christians to wrestle with, theologically. Taken literally, without much attention to historical/cultural contextual nuances, the Bible can be, and often is, used to label homosexual actions as sinful. I don’t know what to think about that. I know what Jesus said about it–which is nothing at all. I know that there are lots of levels of context that can either be applied to the verses in question or ignored. I also know that, regardless of whether homosexual acts are sinful or not, they would be no more so or less so than any other sins that everyone commits on a daily basis. On that point–that a sin is a sin is a sin–the Bible could not be more clear. Yet, right wing Christians get caught up in the political squabbles about gay rights and allow it to push their interpretation of this single “sin” far above most others. In doing so, they become willing participants in helping to deny basic rights of citizenship to millions of Americans. If right wing Christians are wrong about homosexual acts being sinful, then they are extremely wrong in their political stance.But what if they are right?
I would argue that, even if they are right they are wrong.
Let’s say Jesus would be in agreement that homosexual acts are sinful. How would he approach the issue were he physically here with us today? Would he single out homosexuality and work to deny them their rights as citizens? Would he stand beside a Christian baker who refused service to a same sex married couple who simply wanted to buy a cake? My understanding of Jesus would lead me to believe that he would go out of his way to comfort the gay couple. He would approach them with love and build a relationship with them. Jesus didn’t lead with condemnation when he approached sinners. He lived among them, spent time with them, and loved them. He made them feel welcome.
When right wing Christians stand in solidarity with judgement and condemnation of LGBTQ people because they interpret who they are as sinful, they project the opposite image of Christ than that which they are called to do. How can that possibly be right?
The right wing Christians stand firmly with the Trump administration policies that affect the poorest segment of American society in the most negative of ways. The Trump administration’s proposed budget plan would starve social programs while lining the pockets of the mega-wealthy. Their proposed healthcare plans would cost an estimated 13 million Americans–the majority of whom voted for Trump–their healthcare. The proposed tax plan would likely end up feeding private schools while taking from public schools–further exacerbating the achievement and income disparity along racial and socioeconomic lines. I simply can’t square these things against the Jesus that I read about in the bible. The Jesus I know was not about making the mega-rich even wealthier. He was about taking care of the least of these, our brothers. In fact, money is a topic Jesus spoke about more than most any other and my understanding of Jesus’ take on the subject makes it hard for me to see how right wing Christians are so eager to support the financial proposals of the Trump administration.
I’ve come to refer to this as “The Monster”. This has become the single issue that many right wing Christians use for voting. Any Republican candidate for public office knows this and uses it. Donald Trump is no different. Trump didn’t used to be pro-life and I’d bet the farm that he isn’t now, down deep in his heart. There is even pretty strong evidence that Trump has likely urged women he’s impregnated to have abortions and perhaps funded them. He just magically became pro-life–in name only–when he put an “R” by his name after he decided he’d make a play for POTUS.
I understand the position many right wing Christians take on abortion. I certainly can have empathy for their distaste for it and can see how they interpret it as sin. But when one takes on the pro-life mantra, one opens themselves up for criticism for their hypocrisy. Most pro-life, right wing Christians are solidly in favor of the death penalty, for instance. Also, they support governmental financial policies that are stacked against the very lives they are trying to protect. Many, it could be argued, are more pro-birth than pro-life, because the policies they support tend to work against the unwanted babies they are trying to save. Can you imagine millions more unwanted babies in our nation under the social policies promoted by the far right? Those dreadful prospects make me shiver with dread.
I hate abortion. Most pro-choice people hate abortion. I don’t know a single person who would identify as “pro-abortion”–but it is far more complicated than that. I wish that more Christians could learn to separate themselves from the idea that voting on such issues is the same thing as condoning or promoting sin–a concept I wrote more about here.
If we can’t get to the point where we can tease out the complexities that exist between politics and faith, we will never get past the mess we find ourselves in.
This entrenched inability has caused millions of otherwise well-intentioned Christians to throw their support to the most unChristian example of a leader our country has ever elected.
We have reached a crossroads.
Something must change.