Moral Contradictions

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Words we need to hear

Via Raw Story comes an article in Sunday's New York Times by Laurie Goodstein called "Disowning Conservative Politics Is Costly for an Evangelical Pastor".

The Rev. Gregory Boyd of St Paul, Minnesota's Woodland Hills Church lost 1,000 of his 5,000 members because he had the audacity to preach that the "church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.".

This is a topic for another post, but I wonder if Christians fixation on others' sins such as abortion and homosexuality is merely a distraction from more personal sins such as adultery, gluttony, and idolatry. That whole eye/plank thing.

“More and more people are saying this has gone too far — the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right,” Mr. McLaren said. “You cannot say the word ‘Jesus’ in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word ‘Christian,’ and you certainly can’t say the word ‘evangelical’ without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people.

“Because people think, ‘Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro-war rhetoric, or complaining about ‘activist judges.’ ”

...

“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

...

Mary Van Sickle, the family pastor at Woodland Hills, said she lost 20 volunteers who had been the backbone of the church’s Sunday school.

“They said, ‘You’re not doing what the church is supposed to be doing, which is supporting the Republican way,’ ” she said. “It was some of my best volunteers.”


Folks - like it or not, America is not mentioned in the Bible. You can twist and contort Scripture however you want, but if you are serious about reading the Bible in a literal way, the literal text does not include mentions of our country, democracy, capitalism, or the Republican party.

But Nathan, homosexuality, abortion, and terrorism are the biggest threats towards America! Are you saying these aren't important?

No. Those are issues that Christians must engage - however, they must be derived from a full (not selected) Biblical stance, and definitely not from a political party's talking points.

There are many other issues that affect families of which our country needs a full Biblical perspective. Some off the top of my head are minimum wage, poverty, lack of health care, divorce, materialism, and business ethics.

But Nathan, you sound like a Democrat.

Well, I'm not one. I'm also not a Republican. However those issues along with the abortion/homosexuality/war issues need to be balanced. I sound like a Democrat because the Christians that currently dominate the Republican party are ignoring the parts of the Bible that other Christians feel are important. If national discourse swings too far to the left, I'll be accused of sounding like a Republican.

The church is not supposed to be supporting the Republican way. The church was created by God, for God. Period. The GOP does not have all the answers, and is fallible. It is not holy nor is it ordained. The GOP serves itself. The church serves God through worshipping him and educating believers how to follow Him and His word. God is eternal - His church will be around long after America is gone.

I refuse to be a part of a voting bloc like "soccer moms" or "Nascar dads". I will not be taken advantage of for political or corporate gain. We are not called for this type of shallow faith - we are called to be something greater than we are, and that means cultural and natural instincts must be re-examined.

I'm a Christian first, and an American second. Both are important to me, but in order for us to effectively have a voice in our country, we must give equal importance to all of Scripture, and must not let politics compromise our beliefs nor give undue importance to some issues over others.

I don't envy Christian politicians - how do you not compromise the integrity of God's word when the Speaker asks for support of a bill you strongly dislike and in return, promises support for a bill very near and dear to your heart? Politics is about compromise, and I don't want to be in that situation on a daily basis. That's why I don't see myself ever running for office.

I love our country. I love the fact that we can worship freely without retribution, and I will fight for others' right to do that. You cannot force God's love in someone's heart - conversely you turn them away from Him. The greatest religious movements in this country occured via the Holy Spirit through revival meetings. The Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening did not happen because of any laws passed, but because of faithful believers seeking the face of God.

As Rev. Boyd said, our country was not formed as a theocracy on purpose - the folks that came fled theocracies because they're inherently bloody and full of vengeance. See present day Iran, Afghanistan, or even the Inquisition. Heck, read about Baptists in colonial Virginia and ask them how they feel about state-supported religious coercion. The mixture of politics and our faith cannot be taken lightly.

Remember, when we die, we must account to God - not the President.

7 Comments:

  • He lost 1,000. Doesn't that mean he kept 4,000?

    By Blogger Granny, at Sunday, July 30, 2006 1:37:00 AM  

  • If God needs another nation other than Israel to carry His banner, and if that nation is to be America, I know in my heart, that we as a nation will not rise to his standard through legislation. Our first duty is to love each other, freely, and let God do what He does best. I promise you, my conservative brother and sister and my liberal brother and sister, He does not require us to make another set of commandments. His laws are written on our hearts. And, for those whose hearts have not yet accepted those spiritual laws, our duty is to convert them with love and understanding.

    Thank you Nathan, for this really heartfelt post. You inspired me to stay up late and post my own thoughts on my blog. I believe that there is also a Moral "Minority" in this country that does not require man made legislation to do Gods will. I believe I have found a brother!

    By Blogger Dusty Bogard, at Sunday, July 30, 2006 1:40:00 AM  

  • Logical words but you still haven't made your caes why ther Democratic Party is more "Christian" or Christian supporting than the GOP. There are rules and regulations on everything we do and its based on the Ten Commendments. Three major religions are based on these rules. Which party bases its party platform on this? If you are a fundamentalist Christian which party agrees with your personal beliefs? If you are an evangelical Christian would you be welcomed at a Hollywood party? Show me exactly where in the Constitution it says"seperation of Church and State"? If your moral beliefs are against gay rights, abortion,etc, why are we excluded from campaigning against those that support such? The NAACP never campaigned for civil rights in the Churches, now did they? perry D 1962

    By Blogger miranda2, at Sunday, July 30, 2006 12:16:00 PM  

  • Miranda, I think you misunderstand Nathan's point. I shouldn't speak for him, as he is more than capable, but the problem is not being a Republican, it is confusing the two, which you obviously do. The tired point that separation of church/state is not literally present in the constitution is, just that, tired. Neither does the bible explicitly condemn abortion, but you have no problem making that connection, do you? As a matter of law, the concept of separation is implied, and what is more important, has helped evangelicals prosper in this country. The fact that evangelicals such as yourself now like to oppose that kind of religious freedom simply reflects your lack of historical memory or understanding.

    In addition, if you really think that the black church experience is identical to the white church experience, you really need to read some history. The role the church played in the black community is markedly different in a historical sense than it ever has been in white churches.

    And on that note, the point has never been that churches should not take up moral questions--in fact, Nathan suggests exactly the opposite. But taking on moral questions is different than what the Republican/Christians are doing. In fact, they are pursuing a political agenda rather than a moral one.

    By Blogger Streak, at Sunday, July 30, 2006 2:23:00 PM  

  • Granny - good point. :)

    Dusty - Thank you for your kind words here and on your blog. I'll be sure to link it from here and add it to my daily read. I look forward to learning from and with you.

    Miranda - As Streak said, I think you missed my point. I would encourage you to read the article and maybe take a gander through my other posts if you're serious about understanding where I come from.

    Streak - Awesome point about the implicit nature of both separation of church and state and abortion. Comments like those show me I still have a ton to learn.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Sunday, July 30, 2006 9:36:00 PM  

  • Very well stated, young man!!!

    By Blogger the sojourning pilgrim, at Monday, July 31, 2006 12:42:00 PM  

  • Thanks TSP :)

    By Blogger Nathan, at Wednesday, August 02, 2006 12:14:00 PM  

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