Friday, December 9, 2011

God and Laws

I hate American politics, but I think about them a lot. I just noticed that I have two blog posts related to politics that are unpublished. I think this is because politics are so petty and polarizing and do little to stimulate the type of thought and discussion that bares good fruit, so I'll write something I might feel is important, read it, realize it will only breed friction, and then file it away. 

However, this topic really intrigues me, and since it's more of a spiritual approach I'm hoping when I finish I'll have the inclination to hit "Publish Post."

Where is God in politics? How do you reconcile what you believe with any form of political activism? What would Jesus do?

I was sitting around with a group of friends last week and we asked ourselves these questions. 

One of my friends was hurt by how people have used politics to take Christian prayer out of schools, and also lobbied to ban the Ten Commandments from display on public property. She was sad that teachers could no longer teach Christian history, and she wondered what would come of all this. She was sincere. She only wished that kids would have the opportunity to learn about the love of Jesus. 

Some of my other friends spoke up about how Christianity is portrayed in politics. They didn't like the right-wing pundits who claimed Christianity. They seemed fake. We all agreed that we didn't like Christians being defined by being anti-gay and anti-abortion or pro-war. We agreed that Christians should stand for justice and peace, not persecution of any group, that we should never challenge or demean our enemies, we should love them. (Matthew 5:9, Psalm 82:3Matthew 5:44, Luke 10:25-37).

So how do we do all that? How do we cultivate those ideals within our current political system, and in the face of such polarization?

This was a tough question. I think our natural reaction is to fight laws that seem to us as "Anti-Christian." We tend to (out of sincere concern) gravitate towards the idea that America will be damned if there isn't Bible reading in schools, prayer in Congress, and God in the Pledge of Allegiance. We're taught that our country is drifting farther and farther from the beliefs on which is was founded. The idea has been propagated that we used to be a Christian nation, but now we're drifting from the good graces of God. We're told by some that we're heading down the wrong path to destruction, and we must get politically active in order to turn our course back to God.

I have to tell you, I don't believe any of this. When was America a Christ-like nation? When we stole land from the Natives? Slaughtered men, women and children in cold blood? Used slavery and persecution to build our country? How about as early as the 1960's when racism was political POLICY (For more on this, read THIS book). Sure, our forefathers wrote God on things, but did that automatically make them Godly? And furthermore, does it even matter outside of perpetuating a political agenda that's impetus is millions in donations?

Let's go back to what started this whole America thing.
To sum it up, Puritans were facing persecution from the Catholic majority. Terrible things were happening. So they left to take religious refuge in the New World. To read more on Religious persecution that helped found America go here

When we read history, time and time again we learn this simple equation: Religion + Power = Persecution. Our forefathers knew this, that is why they believed very strongly in the separation of Church and State. You don't have to be persecuted to know this, you can just read about crusaders slaughtering "heathens" or conquistadors "converting" savages at sword-point. Power corrupts, it wants to control. Power wants to be God and to judge what is good and what isn't (Luke 6:37, Matthew 7:1-5).

There are people in this country who, in the face of such obvious truth to the contrary, would want history to repeat itself. Some people actually want a Christian majority so that they can legally ban homosexuality or whatever is maddening them this week. They literally want power in order to persecute people. That is scary. It's also anti-Jesus, which is even more scary considering the implications of who else might be behind this movement.

As far as Christians being more and more of a political minority, I'm in favor of it. True Christianity flourishes through extreme persecution.

Why are we so afraid of persecution? Do Christians forget how this whole thing started? After Jesus left Christians were being hunted from house to house, thrown in prison, beaten and stoned to death, hung, filleted alive by knives, burned to the stake, crucified, and their numbers dramatically INCREASED! You see the same thing happening in China over the last fifty years. If you ask me, I say go ahead and ban Christianity. At least then we'll know who the real ones are. I am not afraid of persecution, I welcome it. It'll separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. This whole thing about fighting for a "Christian Political Majority" flies totally in the face of what Jesus established with the early church.

Think about it. Jesus said He came as a "humble servant," to "Seek and to save that which was lost." He said things like "the last shall be first" and "blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." How can you reconcile these words of Jesus with grasping for political power?: 

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." - Mark 9:35

The truth is, you can't.

Changing laws to coincide with morals doesn't change hearts, it only allows for persecution, violence, and hate. Unless of course they're changed for freedom or justice.

I think the place for Christianity in politics is not on the "moral-crusading" end, but on the justice end. Christian organizations like the International Justice Mission use global laws to free the persecuted and seek punishment for their captors. It's amazing the good that can come from people who take this verse literally:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

- James 1:27

How can anyone fight that?

Instead of Christianity being defined by the right-wing, anti-whatever vitriol, it'd be nice to have it be defined as loving, justice-seeking, poor-serving, and actually Jesus-following.

Those are just my thoughts on the matter.

For more on what Jesus thought about the Religious Political Majority in His day, read Matthew 23.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Parents Keep Each Other Sane

This is an iPhone note from 42 days ago. I was laying in bed, and I recorded this conversation with my other wife, Sleep Kristie:

She chuckles, mouth and eyes closed, lips smiling.

"What's so funny?" I ask, grinning as I roll over to look at her, suddenly excited at the opportunity to hear from Sleep Kristie.

"I remember..." She squints her eyes and rolls onto her back, putting her finger in the air. I can tell she's trying to remember her dream, which she usually has trouble with at this point...

"Remember what?"

"'Cause parents..." She pauses, finger still pointed at the ceiling, eyes still closed, concentrating... 

"...Keep each other sane..."

She seems satisfied with that, so she rolls into me with eyes still closed and nestles into the blankets.

"Parents keep each other sane," She mutters, "Then the baby. The baby second."

I'm laughing at this point, but trying not to make noise as I grab my phone and write all this down. 

Five minutes pass. She chuckles again.

"What's so funny now?" I can't believe I'm getting all this good material in one night.

"I guess so. Hm Hm Hmm Hmm Hmmm Hmmm." She's smiling and chuckling again.

"You guess what? What's funny?"

She sniffs.

"Being a parent."