Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm Liberal Because Jesus Said So


A few weeks ago, a person dear to me suggested that I write about being a liberal and being a Christian. I thought it was a great idea, but I didn't know where to start, and because it's something important to me, (my faith and my political beliefs), I wanted to do it right. So I waited for the right moment.

Interestingly enough, the inspiration came over the past couple days. Before I share my story, I'd like to say something extremely important:

No political party, entity, or leaning has the exclusive rights to a specific religion. More specifically, the "Religious Right" or supposed "Moral Majority" does not even come close to representing all Christians. In many ways, I believe it operates in direct contradiction to what the Bible calls us to do. More on that later, right now... back to my anecdote:


The Liberal Friends

I had dinner last Sunday with 3 folks who I consider to be intelligent, educated, and strong Christians. I say this, not because they are my friends or because they own a Bible. I say it because each of them have produced what we call "good fruit." They are saved, and God's work in their lives is evident in what they say, how they treat others, and what they do. They're also ridiculously smart. Politically speaking, they are all also relatively liberal. They all voted for Obama, they support social welfare programs, and are pro choice. At dinner, we discussed whether the church had a role in sexual education, amongst other things. One of the folks there was a member of a church that has a non-profit arm who performs free HIV tests, and distributes condoms. This is obviously on the far left as far as churches are concerned, and the argument made was, "We need to meet people where they are, and be realistic about people's health." Personally, I'm not so convinced on the church's distribution of condoms, as to me, it almost implies that the church is sanctioning or supporting premarital sex. However, I do understand the church's goal in working to drastically reduce unplanned pregnancies, infections, and some possibly terminal illnesses.

The Conservative Friends
One night later, I went to Bible study and dinner with two friends, who I also consider intelligent Christians. They are both decidedly conservative and have wildly different views than the aforementioned folks on sexual education, abortion, social welfare, and many other hot topics. While I fall closer in line with the first group, I respect what they had to say as well. As far as sexual education is concerned, both believed that the church nor the public school, is the appropriate place to discuss "safe sex" options. I use quotation marks because we all know that the only "safe" option is abstinence. The reality, however, is that most do not choose the celibate route. One of the most baffling statements was, "It's fine to teach them that contraceptives like birth control and condoms exist, but not to teach them how to use it. You're basically telling them it's ok. "

My take on Sexual Education
Well, I (and the statistics) strongly disagree. While I'm conflicted about the church's role in providing condoms and detailed sex education for youth, I wholeheartedly believe it is a disservice and flagrant health risk for our schools NOT to teach our youth about preventive measures to avoid ill-timed pregnancies, diseases, infections and often deathly illnesses. Of course, I would prefer for everyone to wait until marriage to have sex. Abstinence should be taught as the foremost and ONLY 100% safe way to avoid bad consequences, however, that simply is not what the majority of people do. Would we have them learn old wives tales about these things? You've heard them: "If you have sex with a virgin, you can get rid of herpes.... If you do it standing up, you won't get HIV..." Parents and other important role models should provide sex education for their children, but as we all know... that doesn't always happen. If parents did what they were supposed to do, I wouldn't have a job at my non-profit, because my non-profit wouldn't need to exist! Do we send kids out into this rough, disease-laden world with no knowledge about how to protect their bodies, ignoring the skyrocketing rates of teen pregnancy and HPV infections?

Also, research shows that sexual education does not turn celibate teenagers who have chosen to wait into sex fiends. The urge to have sex is a natural inclination. You don't need a sexual education class to make people want to "do it." But you do need to have sex ed to ensure that youth are properly informed about how to make responsible decisions. Honestly, when I was in high school, my sex ed course, which was wrought with graphic photos of genital warts and pus filled sores, deterred me from sexual activity. Furthermore, learning how a man should wear a condom didn't make me want to try it out either. I cheekily reminded the conservatives, "You certainly don't want to have to go to work to buy groceries for an unplanned child because some woman or man didn't wear a condom properly, right?"
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
The heated debate about sexual education among Christians is just one example of how Christian liberal and conservatives can see the same issue in completely different ways. To most liberal Christians, self included, the Bible provides more than sufficient evidence that we are called to do many of the things that Democrats support. For example:

SOCIAL WELFARE (Universal healthcare, medicaid, benefits for children, unemployed, disabled, etc)

Matthew 25: 454"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
Mark 12: 31
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.e]">[e] 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'f]">[f] 31
The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'g]">[g]There is no commandment greater than these."John 13:34-35:"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
1 Corinthians 13:2
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.Matthew 5:42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
Genesis 1
: This outlines God's creation of the world. God created the world and everything in it, and gave man stewardship over it, not to ruin it.Psalms 104: 25-30: There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

Christianity is a free will religion. A true Christian is one by their own self-declaration, and not by force.
Matthew 19:21
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

This is a CHOICE. If you would like to follow Him, you may. If you don't want to, that is your choice. This fuels my belief in the separation of church and state. Regardless of how my faith guides my life, I can't hold a non Bible believing person to my Biblical standard.
If a Muslim expected me to do something because it was in the Qu'ran, I'd struggle not to laugh in their face. You can't make me stop eating pork chops!!!!!!

And this is why I don't support sanctioning prayer in schools (although any should be allowed to if they so choose), posting the commandments in public buildings, and I'm pro choice.
Furthermore, this is a violation of the Golden Rule found in Luke 6: 31: "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." This doesn't say, "Do what others do to you" or "Do for them what you think is the 'Christian' way, it says, "Do for others what you want them to do for you." So why do conservative Christians (and they're not truly conservative, because a true conservative supports small government"), often try to force their beliefs on others through laws? I know they don't want others to force their beliefs on them!

So, to all my fellow liberal Christians, you are not alone! Have an interesting story, Bible verse to share, or interesting anecdote about a clash with your local Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck? Please share!

To the conservative/Republican Christians, if you'd like to shed some light, I welcome that too. Right now, I'm a little confused about your ways. (Ie. Being prolife and protecting the unborn, but supporting capital punishment, a human who's already here with us).

To the non-believers, I'd love to hear your take as well.

21 comments:

  1. Indeed you are correct in your assertion that there is no party, ideology, or Government system that has a lock on the word of God.

    As far as Sexual Education goes..I feel it is the the Family and the Church's responsibility to educate our youth on sex.

    But we have to do it from what the word says not conforming to the lackluster standards set forth by social norms. The Bible says "Flee fornication" so that is what we must do. To teach and promote safe sex is only promoting an alternative to living righteous. WE can't afford that. To teach work around to consequences is only trying to supplant and delay the "wages of sin."

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  2. When it comes to Social Welfare...I'M ALL FOR IT...I'm just against the government doing it. We as the people of God and the church are the ones who are supposed to be doing it.

    Jesus didn't tell the Government to do the things mentioned in the Beatitudes, He told His people. Why because we take a personal efficacy in the salvation of others. Often people mistake the conservative mindset w/ that of a selfish individualist, which is a statistical falsehood. Conservatives by percentage and shear number are far more charitable than liberals. We just don't believe it is the place of the Government to provide that "charity" by taking from another.

    People are meant to turn to the Lord for their substance. Why? Because He is our provider. I could go further into this, but I think this will suffice for now.

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  3. On Separation of Church and state. The shear notion is a new and false phenomenon. The 1st Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It actually gave the states the right to practice and establish religions. Many states did, but then abandoned the practice.

    Separation of church and state as written is ridiculous in concept and inception.
    If you read the opinion written by Supreme Justice Black who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and a humanist who didn't trust the church, you will see that it goes against the Word of God and the US Constitution. He wrote "The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach."

    I honestly can't see how a Christian can be in support of such an opinion. We were told to "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to EVERY creature" Jesus didn't make exceptions for statehouses, courthouses or even people who get offended.

    You are VERY correct in that we have to individually work out our own salvation and that there is no way a Law can make you saved...and that has never been in this country.

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  4. On the Environment. Everything you have said is true. However, the current liberal agenda is currently manipulating the "environment" in order to obtain power and centralize it to the state...Much like Den Fuhere von Deutschland. American Fossil Fuels account for less than 1% of greenhouse gasses. Many Statists will use inflated numbers i.e. Climategate.

    All-in-all liberal policies have serious fallacies because they seek to limit the God Given unalienable rights and liberties. They only promote tyranny.

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  5. I agree with EVERYTHING @TheResourceMan has said. Out constitution limits Government for the very reason that our liberties are encroached upon by Big Government.
    And look at the results. We do not end up with less poor by disempowering Government controls.We do not end up with less unwed mothers. We do not end up with a better environment. Years of Gov. take over and our culture is a mess and many American lives are too. The control is the individuals with the support church and family.

    Wish I could hug @TheResourceMan!

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  6. Hey all! I wish I could have been present in your conversation with your conservative friend Crys! Even in Bible Belt North Carolina, I had a sex education course where we learned how to put condoms on a banana. The whole thing didn't make me want to have sex. I knew what my parents taught me, which was abstinence, and that was the route I went/am going. I didn't even have any friends who had sex until I went to college. I do know of one particularly sheltered girl in my high school whose parents wouldn't allow her to be in the sex ed class. She mysteriously disappeared for a year to have a kid and I wonder if a strong sex ed program would have helped prevent her early pregnancy... Hmmm.

    I'm all for teaching people abstinence, but preparing sexually active people to act responsibly.

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  7. at Resource Man:
    "As far as Sexual Education goes..I feel it is the the Family and the Church's responsibility to educate our youth on sex."

    I agree with this! However, you have provided absolutely no plan for what happens when this DOESN'T happen. It's not fair to children who have irresponsible parents and aren't members of a church to have absolutely no education on sex, it's consequences, and other information. School is one of the few places you can almost guarantee that a youth will attend at some point, regardless of their parents or church attendance. Do you have a solution for them? Or do we just let them slip through the cracks?

    "When it comes to Social Welfare...I'M ALL FOR IT...I'm just against the government doing it. We as the people of God and the church are the ones who are supposed to be doing it."

    If every person of every faith, whether they be Christian or Muslim did their due as far as charity, we would not need the government to step in and aid a helping hand. However... we don't. My church, Ebenezer AME, gave more to the victims of Katrina the following week than FEMA did, but my church is in the minority. Until churches, mosques, and temples do the work they are all called to do, many people, namely the ones who don't deserve it, CHILDREN, will suffer.

    "We were told to "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to EVERY creature" Jesus didn't make exceptions for statehouses, courthouses or even people who get offended."

    Ok, so now I'm confused. Where did I say that we couldn't preach the gospel in statehouses or courthouses? I never said that at all. I think we should be doing missionary work everywhere, on street corners, on the National Mall, etc. However, the state itself represents more than Christians. It represents a melting pot of ethnicities and religions. It's the same reason I'm opposed to the Confederate flag atop the statehouse in South Carolina. That doesn't represent EVERYONE's heritage, so therefore it's inappropriate. The freedom of religion you sited means that people should be free to preach, teach wherever they want, and I Agree. But no person should enter a place built by the taxes THEY pay, and feel that it doesn't represent them. It is not just and does little to further the Christian cause. If anything, it deters people from the true nature of what Jesus Christ stood for.

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  8. "All-in-all liberal policies have serious fallacies because they seek to limit the God Given unalienable rights and liberties. They only promote tyranny."

    Funny you should say that! Republicans (not to be confused with conservatives) have this whole bit about how we are tyrannic, and want to run everything, and yet Republicans are the ones who want to impose restrictions on gay marriage, abortion, and other social policies that have no place in the government. Make a decision! The only conservative I can truly respect is the libertarian. I respect their consistency.

    I'd love to hug both The Resource Man and CheriDouglas and show them that liberals have hearts led by God as well. :) Thank you so much for commenting and reading!

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  9. You literally took whole paragraphs out of my mouth Crystal Marie! I feel like I know you! I'm a coworker of Sarah's, who you went to college with, and she referred me to your blog. Thanks for writing this post. You should send it to the Tea Party. :)

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  10. Wow! Glad I stumbled on this blog. ^_^ This topic is very near to my heart because I am also Christian and very liberal. Actually, because of the "religious right" and my own bible study, I rather call myself a disciple rather than a Christian (as history teaches us that was a derogatory term for the followers of Jesus during the time of the 1st church when "Christians" we persecuted. As well as "Christ" meaning "Messiah" and we are trying to be "Christ-like" which is "Messiah-like" and that raises a WHOLE mess of red flags with me because I am no one's messiah..."
    Anyways - I believe the teachings of Jesus themselves were radical and even liberal leaning. Sure, as I agree with @TheResourceMan on that point, it was also the leaders of the 1st century church that had everyone in the community sell all they had and distributed it among those as it was needed. I don't see that in the 21st century church. In fact, we call that Socialism, and it's considered bad by many in the US. You really want to follow Jesus' example, don't own anything. Have no responsibilities to anyone except God. One man wanted to follow Jesus, but said "wait, let me bury my father first" and Jesus told him "let the dead bury the dead." Family obligations meant nothing to him as long as you were doing Kingdom building (God's) work. So there is no individualism when it comes to social welfare.

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  11. Further more, government has no place in "spirituality" or discipleship. It is government that created religion - as the 1st century church was a religion, but a movement. It wasn't until Constantine picked Christianity as the state's religion that a lot of the religious practices (especially those out of step with the teachings of Jesus) came into place. Governments use religion as a way to control the populace when the gospels were originally meant as liberating tools for oppressed people. The issue with government/religious interaction is reflected in Jesus' constant disagreements with the Pharisees. They were the religious leaders, as well as the government figures for the Jews under Roman rule. They used their religious laws (the law of Moses) to take advantage of their own people, conveniently only choosing certain laws to follow or make a big deal out of.
    History has often shown us what happens when a religion is tied to a government. You don't have to just look up Constantine or the Crusades, but England's own history is a perfect example, which is why our so-called forefathers set up such a separation!

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  12. Finally, as far as sex education is concern, I understand how many people think that proper sex education undermines the whole "no premarital sex!" thing since this is a big deal in the Christian church. It's one of those capital "s" sins. To the point where young unmarried girls have to come before some congregations and ask for forgiveness if they become pregnant. Where some churches force their youth to sign abstinence agreements. I find this to be crazy as well as biblically unfounded. Premarital sex isn't the issue. Building meaningful relationship is. While I'm a firm believer in abstinence, I don't think it should just until marriage, because what happens if you get a divorce or become widowed? Is that it for your sexual life? And does God really frown on sex outside of marriage? Because many "righteous" men in the Old Testament got down with many women other than their wives, especially since it was Jewish law that the wife's servants were also the husbands and it was common practice to sleep with the female servants. Sarah even gave her servant Hagar to Abraham in an attempt for them to have a child. Rachel did the same with her servant to Jacob because her sister Leah (who was also married to Jacbo) was having children and she wasn't. So what gives?
    What the church *IS* (or has been historically, especially for Blacks) is a gathering place for information, life lessons, and service. We can't do our community such a disservice by not meeting the needs of education gaps in ALL subjects. Nor should the church NOT be a resource or an open arm for people who want advice, need help, or just have questions. Because the church has closed it's eyes and screamed so loudly about the sinness of sex, so many scandals and misdeeds run rapid in its ranks when problems can be avoided if it was properly and nonjudgmentally discussed by the community. It is a shame that people have to look outside the church for ANYTHING, even sex education.

    Sorry about the length, but as I have grown over the past 2 years at a radical church with a radical pastor hoping to dismantle institutionalized Christianity and bring back discipleship, I have had to have these conversations with myself on all types of subjects and on doctrines and traditions I was raised on since I was born.

    -Blaquestarr (The Radical Disciple)

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  13. I agree whole-heartedly with TheResourceMan. The problem with most liberal views is the lack of understanding and strict adherence to God's view of things. Both Jesus and Paul, spoke of servantship. That means submission to God, no longer looking at life through our own understanding.

    I think liberals tend to add where there is a perceived gap and err in the process. Our radical disciple appears to have done just that as evidenced in the above statements, "Anyways - I believe the teachings of Jesus themselves were radical and even liberal leaning." & "And does God really frown on sex outside of marriage?"

    Did not Jesus say, "Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" when refering to marriage between 1 man and 1 woman? Does what man do (multiple partners) change what God proclaimed? Why was Jesus born from a virgin? Why not from a prostitute? It makes a difference to God, it is man who is always trying to dilute.

    In Jeremiah 17:9 it says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?”

    And again in Mark 7:21, "For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly."

    James 1:14-15 tells us that, "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 1Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death."

    If you research the removal of God from our public schools, you will see a dramatic increase in pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, etc. in teens. Liberals want to put programs in place to help address the rampant problems that were created when they allowed the culture of inclusivity to flourish, and do not realize the source of the problem.

    The problem is a matter of our hearts, and the truth HAS to be taught to our children, not the enabling of sin. There is a consequence to sin, and we (in our compassion) try to soften that blow. But that is not God's view.

    God's view is very black and white. Compassion comes with repentence. As exampled in the following verses in Romans 11, "21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off."

    God is not a mushy, touchy, feely God. He is to be honored and feared first. He will be your friend if you show yourself to be like Him, like HIS heart. And He hates sin SO much that He was willing to die to give us victory against it. He doesn't say, "Oh you poor thing, you got pregnant because you didn't have access to comdons..."

    May God bring these thoughts home our hearts, and keep us from the way of error. God bless you all.

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  14. @Anonymous: Much of what you says assumes that all Americans are Christians. You can't hold non-Biblical folks to a non-Christian standard.

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  15. Interesting post. I am Catholic. Went to Catholic school. Consider myself a liberal conservative.

    Sex ed was taught at my Catholic school as Chhristian Sexuality in 9th grade It taught abstinence but also how other BC methods worked: the pill, condoms, IUD, rhythm method.

    I didn't become sexually active until I was in my early 20's. Sex ed doesn't make young people run out and become active.

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  16. Thank you Sherri! You are one of SEVERAL people with the same story.

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  17. I highly doubt that Jesus would support ABORTION or EUGENICS, so there is no way Jesus would be a Liberal. Why can't you fools undestand that Jesus was so far beyond politcs--it's something you partisan simpletons will never understand.

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  18. Sometimes it is easy to tell when someone hasn't read the actual post.

    Anyway, Violet, I never suggested that Jesus would support abortion or eugenics; the policies I outlined that are motivated by my Christian faith are as follows:
    1. The environment
    2. Social welfare
    3. the separation of church and state

    No mention of the topics you capitalized. I hope that clarifies any concerns.

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  19. This is a tremendous piece. Thank you so much for it. I do want to ask your readers who have merged Christian fundamentalism with political conservatism: What do you do with the Bible passage that says that a rich man will have a harder time entering the Kingdom of Heaven than a camel trying to pass through the eye of a needle? Or the story of Lazarus and the rich man who would not feed him? Or "whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me?"

    As far as I'm concerned, you may hold whatever political views you like about the best path for our country. However, you cannot claim that the Bible offers unequivocal support for your "rich get richer" politics. Some passages may seem to do so, but (at best) the Bible is contradictory on this matter. Therefore, you have to use your God-given mind to figure out what is charitable. And the "limited federal government" started off its life as the code for slavery, Jim Crow, and denying civil rights to women. Now it's for denying help to immigrants, the poor and to gay, lesbian, and trans people, in addition to large numbers of African-Americans and women. My moral compass tells me that, in this case, I must depart from my country's tradition because of what my moral sense tells me is proper.

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  20. I wouldn't even know where to begin with my comment. I suppose everyone's entitled to their opinions...

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  21. Outstanding blog post, I have marked your site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future.

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