A Christian perspective on what's wrong with the G.O.P.

I hear something like this all too often: I want to vote for the party (/candidate) who is most in-line with my values.
Putting aside the fact this is probably not true about either candidate — McCain is an awfully liberal Conservative, and Obama is a pretty conservative Liberal — what really bugs me, especially about the Christian view point, is that this ‘values based’ voting isn’t working.
As someone raised with Christian values, I can say definitively that the “values” espoused by the most recent Republican president were not similar at all to mine. Rather, it is the “party line” that claims to be Christian in nature.
What’s clear is that this party line does not necessarily produce a Christ-like result.
Here’s a tremendous example: Most evangelical Christians hold the belief that sex is for marriage. Because of that fact, Conservatives would prefer to teach abstinence-only sex education. We’ve had a Conservative in power in the States for 8 years now, who’s party holds firmly to that line.
What’s interesting is that the approach — the purported “value” — has failed to make any difference. Teenage pregnancy continues to soar, and in fact, is higher among evangelical Christians than any other religious group.
The value may be a good one, but the method of communicating it: fear, disinformation, threats… these things aren’t working. It turns out that a much better approach is to teach teenagers the reality of the decision — to teach them about the risk and responsibility that comes along with the act, so that they’re equipped to make the right decision.
You can’t teach a value without passing along the reasoning behind it — failing to do so makes the assumption that people are stupid and will follow blindly.
And this, I believe, is the central assumption in the Neo-Conservative movement. We, the people, are expected to blindly follow our government because they’ve claimed the moral high ground. Because their stated values are conservative, every decision they make must be equally righteous.
But they’re not. Liberals do a far better job teaching children about the risks involved in pre-marital sex. We may claim to have the better position, but the fact is, we’ve failed to communicate it. Similarily, we can claim to have the better position on abortion — surely killing babies is a horrific thing to have happen. But we can’t legislate it out of existence. Even if it were illegal, it would happen. Isn’t it much better to, as a certain candidate recently advocated, try to educate and protect people better so that no one ever has to be faced with that choice?
The reality is that voting Conservative does not guarantee that your values will be applied to your country. It guarantees that the candidate who claims to share those values will get to leverage his claimed moral high ground to back his decisions in the press, and on the world stage… but look where that’s gotten us…
Isn’t it better, then, to vote for someone who will put into place a process which will result in your values being applied? If your goal is to see less teen pregnancy, maybe its not better to vote for the gal who says “pre-marital sex leads to damnation… and by the way, you’re not allowed to ask me any questions about my unmarried teenage daughter who is pregnant, because that’s private.” Maybe its better to vote for the guy who teaches his children “teen pregnancy has the following observable and detrimental results…”
Burying sin underneath a facade of moral values doesn’t do anything to improve the state we’re in. Burying greed underneath a facade of (self-)righteous capitalism doesn’t do anything to fix the economy. Starting oil wars while claiming you’re on a mission from God doesn’t do anything to communicate the love of Christ. And espousing hatred and fear at your political rallies because you like your voters ignorant and afraid won’t fix a nation on its knees.
God gave us brains — they’re a special gift from Him that allows us to reason, understand and discern — that we can use to teach other. God gave us His Word because it contains the best plan for His kids. Everything He asks of us makes sense. We don’t need to follow it out of fear or out of a desire to be holier than those other guys. We should follow it, share its principles and apply them to our government because they make sense. Doing so does not require everyone to believe the same thing as us — but we sure could share it a lot better if we didn’t push everyone into one of two obscenely polarized camps.
The New Yorker has an excellent article full of some of the sad facts behind this rant: that we, as evangelical Christians have, at best, failed to impact the world with our values… at worst we’ve become pharisees: talking a righteous talk, judging everyone around us, but forgetting the message and not doing a lick of good for the world we’re in.

22 thoughts on “A Christian perspective on what's wrong with the G.O.P.

  1. You have expertly articulated some of the very things I’ve been trying to explain to my fellow Christians / family who are still supporting (or leaning) toward McCain.
    If Christians want to vote based purely on their values, they SHOULD be voting for Obama because he’s a much more sincere follower of Jesus than McCain. Maybe all his policies are not quite what we’d like them to be, but they just might be more effective in resulting in a more morally conscious culture. Not to mention, Americans really could use a good example of Christianity in the media these days.

  2. It’s pretty sad what passes for Christianity in the USA today. I am referring specifically to the evangelical variety which is all about public piety, self-righteousness, and condemnation of others.
    This group finds itself behind the curve on almost every important issue of the day: equal rights, Global Warming, science, as well as the ability to see through dishonest politicians who wave the flag and thump the bible merely to get votes.

  3. Agreed — to both of you! I personally believe its time for more than just a change in leadership. There needs to be a massive change in how “evangelical” Christians view, and reach out to, the world around them…
    Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  4. Funny thing, I refuse to vote for anyone until there is a candidate that doesn’t believe in religion. There’s no way I could elect someone who believes in imaginary things

  5. Thanks for sharing your opinion Bob. Refusing to vote for anyone seems to defeat the purpose of democracy. Someone who believes in imaginary things will get elected regardless of which party wins so you might as well vote instead of complaining. But I bet complaining is what you really want to do, instead of actually trying to make a difference.

  6. well put. as a Christian, i feel Obama is more in tune with morals and compassion and forward progression, and McCain is trying to get elected by separating the country even more and scaring everyone. my other reason for voting Obama is he truly believes that the “war” needs to be stopped, while McCain thinks we need “victory”. what constitutes “victory” in a war that we really should have nothing to do with?
    I have had faith in God and Jesus my whole life, and it’s sad to say, but for the first time in my life I am questioning it, no joke, because of this election. watching the hate that is being spread by the republicans. how are we going to call ourselves the UNITED states of america.
    someone help me renew my faith.

  7. You must be smoking crack!
    “Obama is a pretty conservative Liberal” ? Are you insane? Do you know is voting record? Have you not heard his taped audio interviews from 2001? Did you not read his own comments on the Warren administration not going far enough when interpreting our constitution? Have you not heard the garbage coming out of the mouths of his friends? Are you not aware that the Nation of Islam has called him, “The Messiah”? (that would be blasphemy) Do you know where he stands on issues that should be important to you as a professing Christian? Do you read or follow any news from sources that are not controlled by the mainstream liberal media? Doesn’t any of that scare the crap out of you? Your blog posts continue to stun me. Wow!
    Obama is a whack job! Period. He is nothing more than a mouth piece, put in place by liberal democrats and the main stream media – and you have bought in to it hook, line, and sinker. He is spewing nothing new and nothing that democrats haven’t been saying for years. It is the same message as always – just different packaging.
    You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about McCain. Honestly I wish there was an alternative candidate that had a reasonable chance of winning. Someone who was not a known compromiser but rather a man of high integrity and moral principle. A vote for Obama is a vote to accelerate the inevitable. A vote for McCain will only slow the inevitable. That probably sounds like the “lesser of two evil’s argument”. It is.
    Is there a better choice then either of them? I think there is, but I’m not convinced they can win. However, that does not relieve me of my obligation to vote and to do so in accordance with the principles outlined in scripture.
    Carefully examine all the candidates positions on:
    – Human Life
    – Human Sexuality
    – Biblical Authority
    – Welfare
    – War
    – Relationship of Family, Church and State
    What is their world view?
    Left wing liberals ALWAYS fall on unbiblical, ungodly sides of those issues
    Why would you think Obama is any different? Of course this blog is yours and you can post what ever you want. But perhaps the next time you post something, maybe you could back up your assertions with some scripture rather than psycho-babble from a liberal rag.

  8. I respectfully disagree. If being a Christian means that we must toe-the-line then I would submit that there is no Christian among us. On the contrary, to walk the walk of a Christian is to walk constantly seeking the Kingdom of God, which is what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 6. We must walk in Love and love our neighbor as our self.
    But to say that an unwed pregnant teenager somehow makes the mother less Christ-like is ludicrous and misleading. Didn’t the same man we follow write in the sand “He who has not sinned throw the first stone.”? And where in any of the speeches or talks did the governor or her mouth pieces say “pre-marital sex leads to damnation”. That may be what you feel but that is not what Jesus preached.
    It is not called burying sin, it is called forgiveness. What is interesting is that as Moral Values remain constant, people’s conception of them change depending on their current activities and desires.
    It was the misled desire of liberalism that derailed the economy not capitalism. http://www.ldsmag.com/ideas/081017light.html
    Just because we started something that the UN should have done but was reluctant to do in both Afghanistan and Iraq does not make us wrong nor does it make it an oil war. And toppling a repressive government that hunted down and killed anyone who worshiped outside of the government enforced religion definitely sounds like a mission from God.
    Yes, we must spread the love of God to others, but it is inhumane and ungodly to sit idly by as the innocent are killed and human rights are denied. Don’t we separate our children in love, if they are hurting each other? Don’t we punish those who hurt another? The concept of Christian Love has been widely misunderstood and portrayed simply as “live and let live” “Don’t bother me and I won’t bother you” and seen as a baby angel with a halo.
    What the Christians with brains should be looking at, are the Moral Values each candidate brings to the table. If they are to follow what Jesus said “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.” Then they will look first at moral values and their voting record on moral issues.
    But if other things are more important, then they will discard what they know from the Word and choose what they want to be true.

  9. Thanks for the opinions and discussion everyone! Let’s try to keep it respectful up in here.
    Gabriel, is it your assertion then that the U.S. of A. is the parent and the rest of the world are children who need Americans to straighten them out? I think you’d have a fairly weak leg to stand on right now, if you’re asserting that (North) America has the log out of our eyes, and we’re ready to go pick the fleck out of everyone elses.
    Besides, I don’t remember Jesus coming to earth to right every wrong, and take out every sinner. I think He came in love and humility with grace… the only people He ever took out with anger or violence were the religious leaders (lets call them the far right) and the money changers…

  10. Well now isn’t this interesting. Yet another bipartisan debate about the pros and cons of the political. Soon I think we will begin to understand the wisdom of what Thomas Jefferson said so many years ago, “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49.” This I think will become true in short order as this country looses it’s agrarian values. Yes I know this whole thing is about discussing the Christian view point but realistically what was it that projected those Christian ideals into the 21st century. It was the rural and “grass roots” (tee hee hee) voters. I’m not saying that there aren’t Christians in cities or suburbs. It is simply that those Christians are metropolitan and willing to twist the truth under the screws of necessity and niceties. They are willing to make concessions to the “greater good” because like it or not they are connected to the social strata of urban living. This simply means that everyone must keep dancing independent of the unsavory music. (I apologize, to the unfortunate reader, I sort of got side tracked by my extended metaphor, but I still think it is apt and so I trudge on through my obfuscation.) Where as the rural population live inexorably connected to the elements. The wind the rain the what have you. They feel them and know that God lives and is a working in this world.
    Like it or not people aren’t stupid. This argument no matter how vehement on either side is a matter of view point. It really isn’t a question of who is right or wrong. That is simply because, who among us is still naive enough to believe that there is a right and wrong answer to be had. People talk a lot about the lesser of two evils but does that make the chosen answer the right one?
    I am not trying to condemn anyone, preach, or come off as yet another blogging crack pot with prophecies of future calamity. I just wanted to add my two cents to this great big pile of s***** that is called political debate.
    People love to play games they make rules and laws, guidelines and procedure. The smart ones make it look like they are true and right. They preach “wisdom” and enslave the unwary under the guise of rectitude.
    -My two cents

  11. My assertion, Jonathan, is that we should do what we can. No we aren’t parents of the World but I was hoping to demonstrate a love that is not the Valentine card kind. We are one of the countries that inhabit the earth like one family on a street block. It so happens that we are the biggest or at least the strongest.
    I believe that all evil needs to grow is for good men to remain silent. Jesus didn’t remain silent and he didn’t turn to the government of the time to supply the needs of the poor or needy.
    And contrary to what you write, Jesus came to undo the works of the enemy. All of them. He didn’t attack the sinner. But he was quick to stop injustice when He had the opportunity…remember the temple and the money changers. Remember the woman that was to be stoned? He was quick to forgive but He didn’t withhold a strong hand. I am sure that he would have stopped a market fight, or a bullying. He stopped Peter after he pulled a knife and cut a man’s ear off.
    And it isn’t a matter of the far right or the far left. It all boils down to those two absolutes no one wants to identify. Right and Wrong.
    But having said that, it will all come down to what we hold dear. Is it the economy, the national defense, a clean earth, fossil fuel, abortion, the death penalty, the definition of marriage? But to bring in Christ and Christians into the mix, the vote is clear.
    Can you imagine standing before the creator and explaining to Him your reasons for voting for Obama? If being a Christian doesn’t figure in then there is nothing to discuss. But there are definite moral issues that mar Obama and what he stands for.

  12. I like the way you beg the questions about sex and abortion.
    This is why conservatism is screwed: assuming your point of view is “correct” and “better” without ever having the debate, or listening to the science.
    Why is sex better when confined to marriage? Humans only do three things: eat, shit and copulate. Accept it.
    As to abortion; a fetus is NOT a “baby”. A “baby” is post partum. This is the hoary old conservative position, whereby a baby is a baby as soon as it’s conceived. What a crock. Human females AUTOMATICALLY abort 80% of pregnancies without the woman even knowing. So clearly, abortion is a clever evolutionary mechanism developed over the last couple of million years.
    Oh, but that’s right; I’m wrong sorry – the world is 6000 years old. 😛

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jon for articulating so well what so many of us are feeling. Every election is a compromise; both candidates are human and neither is perfect. We have to keep that in mind as we make our choice.
    And I completely agree that God has given us intelligence so that we can use it to solve the tough problems rather than blindly accepting the daily dogma that is thrown at us by those who claim to know simply because they have been in a position to be able to do so. The party line has failed us for so long, because the leaders of the past eight years clearly have not Walked the Talk.
    For example, we’ve had enough Supreme Court Justices to be able to overturn Roe v. Wade now for several years, and yet why has Bush not jumped on this? There’s only one reason — because without that carrot to hold in front of us, we would all quickly discover just how little their “values” follow ours in truth. And then, how quickly would their Christian constituancy dissolve?
    I have one other comment – we are not Christians IN SPITE of the countless choices to sin or not to sin that we encounter each day, we are Christians BECAUSE we have been faced with those choices and have chosen not to sin. Eliminating choices in the name of God is akin to eliminating the free will that He gave us. He gave us that free will so we can define ourselves and our faith by making the correct choices — you can’t make the correct choice if you don’t have a choice.
    Thus, I have to agree with you that although I don’t agree with the left’s party line on abortion, I do agree that the dogmatic approach of abstinance-only does NOT work, and teaching the consequences of a bad decision is a MUCH smarter way to go.
    Let’s face it — teenage years are a rebellious time. Even teens brought up with faith can easily make the wrong decision if faith alone is the only thing holding them back. Temptation is STRONG and as we all know, teens are extremely vulnerable at a moment of weakness (like being with a really handsome guy who’s a little too pushy). It’s at times like those that having the facts can certainly help provide additional reasons to prevent a regrettable mistake.

  14. The most recent epidemiological survey estimates that 1.2 million Iraqis have died from violence in the 5 years of war, about 30% of those directly caused by US military forces. An unknown number have been injured (possibly up to double or triple the number of deaths), and an estimated 5 million are displaced. By comparison, the 8 year long Iran-Iraq war, one of the bloodiest wars in recent history, is estimated to have caused half a million Iraqi to be killed or wounded. The population of Iraq is 27 million.
    The United States has presided over the decimation of the Iraqi population – literal decimation, in the sense of 1/10 of the adult population, as practiced by the Romans.
    Why is this not a Christian concern. above all others.
    Rule #1 : thou shalt not kill

  15. This is the very hubris I’m talking about: “And it isn’t a matter of the far right or the far left. It all boils down to those two absolutes no one wants to identify. Right and Wrong.” This notion that McCain represents Right and Obama represents Wrong… is wrong!
    McCain is a foul-mouthed manipulator, and if I could draw these two candidates out of their political parties and compare them just as two men, the one who would look most like a Christian to me — the one who looks most “Right” isn’t the old, raging white guy.
    I would be proud to stand before my creator and say I rooted for Obama.
    But I do believe that a fetus is a baby — one look at our 3-month ultrasound of Benjamin was more than enough to remove any doubt I may have had. And I do believe sex is sacred. I just don’t believe that extreme Conservatism is the approach that is best suited to protecting those ideals… in fact, from what I can see, we’ve done more damage than good in those (and many other) areas. And on the world stage, that opinion is pretty widely agreed-upon:
    @dm: I couldn’t agree more…
    As an aside, I heard an interesting statistic the other day.
    Did you know that if America took the money it spent on the war in Iraq in a one month period, and applied it to solving world hunger, within a year, there would effectively be no one hungry on the entire planet?
    Imagine how many people we could reach with Christ’s message if we brought them food instead of death?

  16. Thanks for saying “God gave us brains.” Note that no Commandment forbids us from using them.
    Here’s a study on how the public policy we vote on can reduce the number of abortions. If you want to do something about abortion right now, here’s what has been shown to work. Link and excerpt:
    Elected officials can use socioeconomic public policy to reduce abortions
    Recent research finds that the abortion rate among women living below the poverty level is more than four times that of women above 300% of the poverty level. This study of all U.S. states from 1982-2000 finds that social and economic supports such as benefits for pregnant women and mothers and economic assistance to low-income families have contributed significantly to reducing the number of abortions in the United States over the past twenty years.

    The findings in this study suggest that elected officials can utilize effective and appropriate socioeconomic public policies to reduce abortions. These include: increasing benefits for pregnant women and mothers with children under five; promoting policies that increase male employment; providing funding for child care for working women; increasing economic assistance to low-income families and removing the “family cap” on economic assistance. Legislation aimed at these goals can effectively reduce abortion in America.
    @Me again — Are the voters in Colorado planning to close down fertility clinics? Because they produce far more embryos than are used. Also, if the clinic implants an embryo and the pregnancy doesn’t “take,” will they prosecute the clinic?

  17. My grandfather used to say, “There are two things one should never discuss in polite comapnay. Religion and Politics.”
    The Framers had some interesting ideas about keeping politics and religion apart. Although they could not have foreseen the current circumstances, their ideas are still valid. Amendment I of the Constitution spells out, not the reasoning, but the intent. Although the Evangelicals are currently screaming to have a government which forces their values on others (a function theocracy), they will be the first seek protection under this amendment when the demongraphic shifts to such an extent that they are no longer a meaningful minority.
    If there is an irony in all of this, it’s that their particular beliefs about Constitutional interpretation parallel their beliefs about Biblical interpretation. Take what you like, ignore what you don’t like and be either literal of figurative given the needs of the moment.

  18. To talk Religion and Politics is to bare one’s soul. It reflects our core belifes. Those who wave the banner of “not talking about it” are those who are unsure whether to show who they really are.
    I respect all views. For they represent who you trully are.
    But if we are to describe a “Christian” vote then the focus changes. Doesn’t it? It means we must backup the decision with scripture, not feels or emotion or I like or dislike.

  19. A very interesting read and even as an atheist I agreed with alot your reasoning especially on sex-eduacation and not being afraid of eduacation on touchy subjects as opposed to eating our morals off a plate, curtousy of the U.S government.
    On the other hand, sometimes I think that the whole ‘god must have his way’ attitude within circle of the GOP (the palin types, if you will) causes more harm than good because from a realistic stance is there really such a thing as “his way” that reflects clearly in 08? Who’s Palin to define ‘his way’ but only as according to herself?
    I think it’s a shame how liberal christians give into McCain simply because Palin is regarded as the more traditional-fundamental-christian so she’s automatically the right choice. Way to dumb down an election and no wonder you hear things like, ‘Obama is a muslim.’ And no Obama isn’t my idol, but I respect the man.

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