Note that this post contains words that may offend certain readers. If you’re offended by these words, feel free to skip reading this post and move on to less offensive topics, like dwarf bunnies. Also, I’m breaking my own rules today and talking about politics more than religion. At least on the surface. Feel free to move along if you don’t want to enter this quagmire with me.
Recently, I read a well-written blog post called Being Pro-Life and Politically Homeless. In this one post, I witnessed a pastor’s struggle to define so many of the things I’ve struggled with in recent months. I’ve never met Rev. Rasmussen, nor been to Connecticut. I could hardly call myself a Lutheran (and I don’t think they’d have me). But the sort of weary resignation I found in his words resounded so in my soul, I feel he and I could be great friends.
Every time I’m cast into a misogynistic, racist, homophobic political bucket because I serve a Savior who emphasized love and life and service…
Every time I’m condescended to, called unpatriotic, and forced to quiet my convictions lest my fellow Christians proclaim me a heretic…
A Nation of Assumers
All dads have go-to sayings. I must have heard one of my father’s favorites a hundred times growing up. It was one of the few times I ever heard him cuss as a child, but it seemed all the more potent for that very reason.
When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.
Apart from providing a memorable way to remember the word’s spelling, it didn’t do much for my childhood ears. Today, I get it. I totally get it. And I feel as if America gets it, but only in the first person.
We’ve all felt it: the sense of injustice when someone assumes falsely incorrectly about you. We know that when other people make assumptions about us, it neglects some reality. And that can hurt. And in our eyes, it makes the assumer seem like a bit of an ignorant ass.
What we seem to forget is the universality of this rule. We scorn the assumptions of others about us, but we can so often do the same. And while our assumptions simplify the world and paint much of it in the color of ass, we end up obliviously covered with the same paint.
And thus we form the great American echo chamber of politics.
Who I Am
Today, I am personally liberal and politically conservative. But I didn’t start that way.
In my late teens, my relationship with Jesus Christ began. And as my faith took hold, I approached my faith through the lens of my conservative upbringing. I toed the party line for my first few years as an adult. Coming of age in the era of 9/11 only emboldened the sense of patriotic duty.
But as I matured as an adult and as a believer, I began to study the Scripture myself. And I began to question things, as I discussed a few weeks ago. And I found the blind political aggression I’d wielded before to be disappointing at best and disgusting at worst.
Students of Christian theology would call this transformational experience sanctification: the process of becoming more like Jesus. A Jesus who protected the sinful adulteress from the Religious Right of his day. A Jesus who used His limitless power to feed the hungry and heal the sick. A Jesus who told a man enslaved to his wealth to give it to the poor. A Jesus who told us that love was our highest calling, a love not only for God but for all humanity.
Unlike the theological concept of justification, sanctification isn’t an overnight thing. It’s called a process for a reason. And so, I’m still changing. I continue to grow, shift, and evolve. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I question new things, consider new ideas, and weigh new perspectives. And often, I find myself in the uncomfortable (but now very familiar) place of being in the wrong.
And with God’s help, I use this as a catalyst for change. I make new choices.
Unfortunately, I’ve found this difficult to navigate in a partisan world, as subject matter tends to blur lines a little when we start labeling and classifying ourselves, establishing our camps, silos, and affiliations.
Bending to Labels
If I have to label myself, I’d say I’m personally liberal and politically conservative.
I agree with many of the social ideals of the liberal worldview because they align remarkably well with the life and teachings of Jesus. He was progressive in His day, and nothing much has changed about us (or Him) since.
Often, my political alignment with some conservative agendas is due to pragmatism and sober reflection on the capacity of our government rather than a spiritual influence.
For example, I welcome welfare reduction/reform not because I do not believe in helping people. On the contrary, the Bible teaches us very strongly that we should. God’s word gets notably aggressive when in defense of widows, orphans, the downtrodden, and even foreigners.
Rather, my view is informed by decades of witnessing family members abuse the welfare state. And frankly, I don’t find sound judgment in throwing money blindly at taxes and hoping the government will implement an efficient or effective system.
Single-payer health care? I’m not opposed because I don’t think Americans should be healthy. Jesus repeatedly prioritized matters of health. Yes, even physical health. Like, it was kind of His thing. Countless knew Him as a Healer before they knew Him as a Savior.
Rather, I don’t think the American government has proven itself capable of producing large-scale systems that run with any degree of non-partisanship or sober recognition of individual needs, much less efficiency or efficacy. Look no further than the overly politicized landscape of our education system or the looming threat of social security’s insolvency.
Giving over health care to this government is like asking a close friend to invest in Uncle Bob’s great new business idea, despite Uncle Bob’s track record of gambling away the life savings of multiple family members.
Are other countries doing it well? Perhaps. But this country is different, for better or worse, and I don’t think more government control is the answer. If anything, I think more checks against government power are the answer.
My faith in the love of God still demands that I desire the well-being of my fellow man. But I usually distance myself from most “liberal” ideas because of a doubt in their ability to work and not disagreement with their motivation. For many of my political positions, it’s a brain thing; not a faith thing.
This is always so neatly determined. Next week, I’ll hit on a hotbed issue that interacts much more directly with my personal beliefs. Yes, I’m going to talk about abortion.
Oh, Lord. Why am I doing this?
Originally posted 2017-06-12 08:00:59.