Monthly Archives: November 2008
Soldiers entering villages and killing people on sight. Landmines blowing pregnant women to smithereens. There’s no way this is really going on. The world would never tolerate this. How come I haven’t heard about this before? These were the words flashing through my mind as I watched the fourth installment of the Rambo franchise 10 weeks ago. The film portrays the brutal ethnic cleansing campaign in Eastern Burma targeting the Karen people, a situation that is every bit as bad as what’s happening in Darfur (Some argue that it’s worse) though frightfully few people know that it’s happening. Little did I know that in just eight short weeks, I’d actually be standing on the same soil as the Karen people, talking with victims of the junta’s atrocities and listening to their stories.
My wife and I are freelance Christian missionaries. In a nutshell, we travel the world and look for ways to share our faith and/or help people in practical ways. About a week after I saw the Rambo movie, I met a missionary at a conference in Texas that lives in Thailand and works among the Karen people living in refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border. At the conference an invitation was given for volunteers to go to Thailand and teach an oral communications workshop at a Karen Bible School. At the time my wife and I were already scheduled to spend three weeks in Brazil in November, so we didn’t think we would be able to make it. Within three weeks the door we had to travel to Brazil was slammed shut—providentially I think—and we were able to credit our tickets to travel to Thailand instead.
While in Thailand we spent six days at a Bible School with Karen pastors in training. Many of the young men and women had been driven out of their homes when they were little children. Some told us stories about their home villages being burned to the ground. Others were too young to remember life outside of the refugee camp, but longed to return to their homeland nonetheless. The constant theme we heard over and over was that the junta troops are continuing to systematically drive Karen people out of their villages and are placing landmines in the villages to keep the people from coming back. Many of the people fear that if the world doesn’t act soon, there will be a final campaign in 2010 that will wipe their people off the map forever. That’s the year the Burmese government has given the Karen National Liberation Army an ultimatum to lay down their arms—or else.
Speculation aside, here are the facts:
• In Eastern Burma, the military regime has destroyed, burned, or relocated over 3,000 villages;
• At least one million refugees have fled the country;
• An additional million people remain inside the country as internal refugees. They face abuse in the forms of rape, torture, extortion, and murder. Many are also forced into forced labor for government projects and army
campaigns – a modern form of slavery;
• The military junta in Burma has recruited more child soldiers than any other country in the world – up to 70,000;
• Sexual violence is used as a weapon of war in Eastern Burma, terrorizing thousands of women and their families;
• The United Nations Security Council has remained shamefully silent in the case of Burma, even though it has passed many resolutions on other countries in similar situations;
• The longer the UN Security Council remains silent, the more people will die.
Amazingly, we were able to go into Burma and visit a camp for internally displaced people. Though the camp is comprised of 820 people, the week before we arrived 87 new Karen entered the camp after the junta attacked their village and planted landmines to prevent the people from returning to their homes. This tells me that the killing is not only ongoing, it’s worsening. History shows that when brutal regimes are denied the money and the weapons to carry out their atrocities, the people are able to rise up and take back their country. The U.N. must play a crucial role to make this happen.
You and I can make that happen. Go to http://www.uscampaignforburma.org and sign the petition to tell Ban Ki Moon to pass a resolution to stop the genocide in Burma. The clock is ticking. God have mercy on us all if we stand by and do nothing.
As I write this letter, I’m sitting at a Bible school in Western Thailand, just a few miles from the border of Burma. Rhiannon and I have just finished assisting a five-day workshop designed to teach tribal Christian leaders how to communicate the gospel to illiterate people using the stories of the Bible. A handful of students are watching the film “God’s Story” and sitting next to me is the director of the Bible School explaining the plight of the Karen people.
For those of you who haven’t seen the latest Rambo movie, let me first say that I absolutely do not recommend watching this film, especially if you have a hard time looking at blood, because it’s probably the most violent movie you’ll ever see. The film portrays in graphic detail the suffering of the Karen people and how the Junta troops in Burma are systematically attacking villages, killing people indiscriminately, and then planting land-mines so the people can’t return to their homes. Those who escape alive usually spend years hiding from the troops scraping out a meager existence from the land. The fortunate ones end up in IDP camps (camps for Internally Displaced People) near the Thai border and the even more fortunate ones escape to Thailand and end up in one of three camps for Karen refugees—which is where we are at right now.
Some of the students that we’ve taught this week have seen their parents killed. Others are separated from family members still living inside Burma. All of them are living in dire poverty, spending their lives in a refugee camp with little contact with the outside world (including Thailand), having little opportunity to determine their future.
And yet they continue to sing! The thing that touches me the most about the Karen Christians is they are probably some of the most beautiful singers in the world. The other day we visited a home for injured veterans of the Karen National Liberation Army. The room was filled with men whose arms and legs had been blown off, and yet their existence (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) is devoted to singing and praising God. Though they live off of handouts from the outside world, these men are in no way spiritually poor. I think that we in the West have a lot to learn from these Karen brothers in the Lord.
Yesterday we actually crossed the river into Burma and visited an IDP camp that’s hidden from the rest of the world. The people live on donated rice and yellow beans (and the occasional fish or vegetable). Every family gets one cup of yellow beans a month, which is about a half a teaspoon a day for a family of four. Imagine that! Thanks to your giving, Rhiannon and I were able to contribute significantly towards purchasing 17 large bags of rice and one large bag of yellow beans, plus a bag of chili peppers. (A side note, for $60 a month, we could double the amount of beans the camp receives) The team asked me to give a gospel presentation using a multi-colored soccer ball, something I was glad to do. Five people raised their hands to accept Jesus as Savior.
All in all it was a very fruitful week. The students displayed keen insight into the Scriptures and even though Rhiannon and I were here as teachers this week, I think I learned just as much from the students as they learned from us. That again, is the beauty of the Simply the Story program. With Simply the Story, the teacher tells the Bible story and then explores the story together with the listeners, inviting participation. That way everyone learns together. Isn’t that what the Kingdom of God is all about? People from different races and walks of life loving each other and mutually encouraging each other in their faith?
You may be reading this and think, “But Aaron, I’ll never be able to go across the world and experience another culture like you do.” That may be true, but what about the town or city that you live in? Is it possible that God may want to break down racial walls in our own backyards?
Something to think about.
While there is still time,
P.S. Please pray for us as we travel to Senegal and Guinea Bissau next week. We’ll be leaving for this trip about 6 days after we get back from Thailand. Only this time, we’ll be teaching the STS method solo, just enough to wet the pastors’ appetite so that we can come back and do something more official next year.
P.P.S. If you’d like to make an online donation to help cover the costs of our trip to Africa, please go to http://www.greatcommissionsociety.com
The following is an e-mail I received from Pastor Tim, a friend of mine who pastors a very radical church in Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. Tim’s son, Levi O Brien was one of the main characters in the popular film, Jesus Camp. After the quote, you’ll see my response. I’ve given Pastor Tim an invitation to dialogue on this, and of course as always, talk amongst yourselves!!
In light of recent events, I thought you would enjoy this. Like I think you have been saying, the Church’s main impact on the world is its own spiritual transformation, not its impact upon politics.
From: Hassett, Dan CIV USA TRADOC
Sent: Friday, November 07, 2008 10:35 AM
To: Obrien, Timothy M MAJ RES USAR TRADOC
Subject: Option for Evangelicals (UNCLASSIFIED)
from his FOX News bio: Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist, appearing in more than 600 national newspapers. Thomas is the author of more than 10 books, including, “Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America” co-authored with Bob Beckel.
Thomas is FOX News political contributor who joined FOX News in 1997. He also appears as a panelist on “FOX News Watch.”
Thomas is a 40-year veteran of broadcast and print journalism. He has worked for NBC News in Washington, D.C. and hosted his own program on CBNC that was nominated for a Cable ACE Award in 1995. Thomas is a graduate of American University.
He makes some good points in this column:
When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009, he will do so in the 30th anniversary year of the founding of the so-called Religious Right. Born in 1979 and midwifed by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Religious Right was a reincarnation of previous religious-social movements that sought moral improvement through legislation and court rulings. Those earlier movements — from abolition (successful) to Prohibition (unsuccessful) — had mixed results.
Social movements that relied mainly on political power to enforce a conservative moral code weren’t anywhere near as successful as those that focused on changing hearts. The four religious revivals, from the First Great Awakening in the 1730s and 1740s to the Fourth Great Awakening in the late 1960s and early ’70s, which touched America and instantly transformed millions of Americans (and American culture as a result), are testimony to that.
Thirty years of trying to use government to stop abortion, preserve opposite-sex marriage, improve television and movie content and transform culture into the conservative Evangelical image has failed. The question now becomes: should conservative Christians redouble their efforts, contributing more millions to radio and TV preachers and activists, or would they be wise to try something else?
I opt for trying something else.
Too many conservative Evangelicals have put too much faith in the power of government to transform culture. The futility inherent in such misplaced faith can be demonstrated by asking these activists a simple question: Does the secular left, when it holds power, persuade conservatives to live by their standards? Of course they do not. Why, then, would conservative Evangelicals expect people who do not share their worldview and view of God to accept their beliefs when they control government?
Too many conservative Evangelicals mistake political power for influence. Politicians who struggle with imposing a moral code on themselves are unlikely to succeed in their attempts to impose it on others. What is the answer, then, for conservative Evangelicals who are rightly concerned about the corrosion of culture, the indifference to the value of human life and the living arrangements of same- and opposite-sex couples?
The answer depends on the response to another question: do conservative Evangelicals want to feel good, or do they want to adopt a strategy that actually produces results? Clearly partisan politics have not achieved their objectives. Do they think they can succeed by committing themselves to 30 more years of the same?
If results are what conservative Evangelicals want, they already have a model. It is contained in the life and commands of Jesus of Nazareth. Suppose millions of conservative Evangelicals engaged in an old and proven type of radical behavior. Suppose they followed the admonition of Jesus to “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison and care for widows and orphans,” not as ends, as so many liberals do by using government, but as a means of demonstrating God’s love for the whole person in order that people might seek Him?
Such a strategy could be more “transformational” than electing a new president, even the first president of color. But in order to succeed, such a strategy would not be led by charismatic figures, who would raise lots of money, be interviewed on Sunday talk shows, author books and make gobs of money.
Scripture teaches that God’s power (if that is what conservative Evangelicals want and not their puny attempts at grabbing earthly power) is made perfect in weakness. He speaks of the tiny mustard seed, the seemingly worthless widow’s mite, of taking the last place at the table and the humbling of one’s self, the washing of feet and similar acts and attitudes; the still, small voice. How did conservative Evangelicals miss this and instead settle for a lesser power, which in reality is no power at all? When did they settle for an inferior “kingdom”?
Evangelicals are at a junction. They can take the path that will lead them to more futility and ineffective attempts to reform culture through government, or they can embrace the far more powerful methods outlined by the One they claim to follow. By following His example, they will decrease, but He will increase. They will get no credit, but they will see results. If conservative Evangelicals choose obscurity and seek to glorify God, they will get much of what they hope for, but can never achieve, in and through politics.
(c) 2008 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
Lincoln Hall, Rm. 2647
Fort Leonard Wood, MO 65473
Thank you for sending me this. My only caveat would be is that I do see a role for the church for advocacy in addressing structural injustices that perpetuate poverty. I would agree that even this role, however, is a secondary role. The problem with the religious right is that it seeks to address private morality issues through legislation (like gay marriage and abortion) when, if I’m understanding Scripture correctly, it’s not necessarily the role of the church to try to force those outside our ranks to adhere to these standards. The Church is to be an agent of grace, not condemnation. When it comes to social morality issues however, like addressing labor and wage issues, I think the Church can play a political advocacy role in addressing these issues, much like the Biblical prophets did (e.g…Woe to you who write unrighteous decrees that rob the needy of justice). Even this, however is secondary to preaching the gospel and addressing issues of exploitation and greed from the pulpit of our churches.
The following is a letter that I’ve sent today out to President Elect Obama. I also sent the same letter to my congressman, Russ Carnahan.
Dear President Elect Obama,
First of all, I’d like to congratulate you on your win to the White House. That our nation elected the first African American president is truly historic and as an American citizen, I’m proud that our nation has taken this historic step undoing centuries of oppression and injustice towards our nation’s black citizens.
You have said you want to unite us as a nation. An excellent place to work for such unity would be for you to put your full support behind the Democrats for Life initiative known as the Pregnant Women Support Act (its goal is to reduce abortion by 95 percent over a 10-year period).
This bill would:
• Establish a toll-free number to direct women to places that will provide support during and following their pregnancy.
• Provide child care to low-income and student parents.
• Provide parenting education in maternity group homes.
• Make the Adoption Tax Credits permanent.
• Ensure that pregnant women are not denied health care by insurance companies and that coverage is continued for newborns.
• Codify the regulation that extends coverage under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to low-income pregnant women and unborn children.
• Increase funding for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program.
• Provide grants to institutions of higher education to fund pregnant and parenting student services.
• Provide new mothers with free home visits by registered nurses.
All of these measures would help fulfill the pledge made in the 2008 Democratic Party platform, which “strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.”
I urge you to take moral leadership in this matter.
I also sent a letter to both men urging them to ban partial birth abortion. I’d like to urge my readers to do the same. Remember that these men work for us! This is how we serve as a prophetic witness to speak truth to power. We write to them.
I received this e-mail from the local Amnesty International group here in St. Louis. I wasn’t able to get through, but I’ll be sure to try again later.
This isn’t really an Amnesty action, but it could be. I hope you will all consider doing this in addition to anything you are doing on this issue already. The situation in the eastern DRC has deteriorated rapidly recently. I don’t have much faith that it can be stopped, but we have to try.
Stop the Violence in Congo
The renewed rebel offensive in the eastern Democratic Republic of the
Congo threatens to return the region to all-out war and has already
displaced at least 200,000 additional civilians. The UN mission in Congo
(MONUC), while the largest UN mission, is not able to protect civilians
from atrocities without immediate reinforcements.
Call Secretary Rice and tell her that you want stopping the violence in
Congo to be a priority during her final days in office: (202) 647-5291.
The ten-year war in eastern DRC led to the deaths of 4.5 million people,
as well as tens of thousands of rapes before a peace agreement supported
by the international community halted much of the violence. That peace is
now breaking. The international community must reinforce MONUC and
urgently deploy the diplomatic resources necessary to save the peace
agreement and prevent a war that will again lead to mass death,
displacement, and rape of civilians.
The international community is beginning to mobilize. France and Britain
have sent their highest-ranking officials to the region. Unfortunately,
despite her earlier efforts to end violence in Kenya, the U.S. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice has not engaged on a comparable level in the
DRC and her efforts are needed.
Secretary of State Rice’s efforts were critical to ending the violence in
Kenya earlier this year. Her efforts are needed today in Congo.
Call Secretary Rice and tell her that reinforcement of the UN Mission and
high level diplomacy are needed to ensure the safety of civilians in the
Take Action Now:
Call Secretary Rice’s office at (202) 647-5291 and tell her that:
* you want stopping the violence in Congo to be a priority during her
final days in office
* reinforcement of the UN Mission and high level diplomacy are needed to
ensure the safety of civilians in the DRC
To all my fellow Christian brothers, small actions such as this is part of our prophetic duty to speak truth to power. Every little bit helps.
I was going to write a post with a sample letter to our newly elected president, but this provides a much better example of what I’m talking about.
Richard Land is the President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and one of the most influential voices in what is known as the Religious Right.
I want all of my readers to read a letter he wrote to President Elect Obama yesterday entitled Abortion Reduction is the Key to Common Ground.
Something that is not mentioned in the letter is that Obama was the key person pushing for these reforms within the Democratic Party, so what Land is doing is holding Obama accountable to the promises that he’s already made, which is something that all of us can do.
Remember that advocating for life doesn’t stop on November 4th. We live in a democracy. Any one of us can also write a letter to our congressmen and our newly elected president.
Thank you Mr. Land for holding our newly elected president accountable. Let’s hope that more will do the same.
I’m writing this on the fly. So here goes. My post entitled “I’m a pro-life Christian, that’s why I’m voting for …??” has generated some passionate debate and has obviously stirred some raw emotion in a lot of people. Some have written me and/or commented that just because I feel that a person can be a genuine, bona-fide, Spirit-filled, born again Christian and vote for Obama, that somehow means I’ve either backslidden or I’m one of the “elect that’s been deceived.” Others feel that I’ve taken a condescending attitude towards McCain supporters, as if I somehow feel that my world travels allow me to sit on an intellectual high horse and stare my nose down at everyone else. Looking back at what I’ve written, I can see why some would feel that way. The truth is I’m still figuring a lot of things out as to how to live a Christ-like life, caring about the things that He cares about, confronting important issues head-on, and speaking the truth in love. Jesus was an activist par excellence for the poor and the downtrodden (more on that in another post) but He was also able to speak truth to power in such a way that He stayed above the fray of partisan politics. That’s how He could have a Herodian and a Zealot as part of His apostolic team—without the two killing each other! I haven’t quite figured out how to speak my mind the way that Jesus did. I invite all who love me and care for me to pray that I’ll have the mind of Christ in all matters—especially when it comes to when and how to speak my mind. I also invite you to examine my entire life and ministry before making personal accusations against my motivations and character.
Some feel that I’ve lost my moral bearings because I believe that Christians should expand their definition of what it means to be pro-life. Others have said that I’ve downplayed abortion as an important issue, so let me clarify. I believe that when it comes to how Christians are actually supposed to live and the values that we are supposed to espouse in the Body of Christ, we always, always, always, always, always, must side with life over death. So, if a 14 year old girl comes up to me and tells me she’s pregnant but fears that if her father finds out then he’s going to molest her and kill her, because of my conviction I’m going to have to tell her “I’m sorry, but as a Christian I can not counsel you to have an abortion.” If a married woman suspects that if she keeps a pregnancy, then her husband is going to make the child’s life a living hell (use your imagination), then I’ll still have to say “I’m sorry, but I can not as a Christian counsel you to have an abortion.”
When it comes to preaching an ethic of life and living an ethic of life on the part of a Christian, I believe that Christians should always side with life, and yes, that includes other areas besides abortion. From the womb to the tomb. That’s what I mean by a consistent ethic of life. I realize there are a lot of Christians that disagree with me that the term “pro-life” should extend to issues such as war and the death penalty. I haven’t laid out my case for that, so I don’t expect the bulk of my readers to understand. For many, it’s a perspective they’ve never heard. All I’m asking for right now is to give me a listening ear, be patient, and after I’ve made my case, decide whether you agree with it or not, and then embrace me as a brother if you continue to disagree.
Here’s where things get difficult. It’s one thing to say that I as a Christian must always choose life in matters of my personal behavior and how I would counsel others to live. It’s quite another thing to say that I as a Christian have a Biblical mandate to translate these convictions into public policies that force others to agree with my convictions. My point is that the values that Jesus lays out for the Body of Christ don’t necessarily translate into public policy without nuance and ambiguity—and neither were they intended to. That’s why elections are usually about choosing the lesser of two evils. One can not translate the values of Jesus into public policy without a considerable degree of compromise.
Take for example the issue of abortion. Some have written me and said that John McCain believes that humans are entitled to human rights at the moment of conception. Actually, that’s not completely accurate. John McCain favors abortion in the case of rape or incest. Apparently John McCain doesn’t believe that a baby conceived as a result of rape is entitled to human rights. Why not? Maybe he feels that it’s wrong to put a rape victim through the emotional pain of childbirth. Maybe it’s a political compromise. I don’t really know. Obama on the other hand is the first democratic candidate that has actually made it a part of the Democratic party platform to institute policies aimed at reducing abortions. Is he sincere about that? Maybe he is. Maybe he’s not. A sincere Christian can go to the polls and ask himself or herself a question. Is my vote about making a moral statement or is it about actually saving human lives? Some say that from a purely pragmatic point of view, given that conservatives already have a majority in the Supreme Court and haven’t overturned Roe V Wade (and even if they do, abortion will still not be illegal) that the best way to save unborn babies is to elect someone who will institute policies to make it economically feasible for a woman to keep her child.
That’s a legitimate, honest debate and I don’t think that Christians should slander each other for whichever decision they make in this regard. And neither do I think that Christians should blindly believe every single forwarded e-mail because a candidate doesn’t toe the party line on a narrow set of issues.
So why have I decided to write about this? Because I’m bothered by the fact that so many Christians are questioning other Christians’ salvation based on how they vote. This is a serious error, and given the way some have responded to my post, it’s a pervasive error. We all say that “God is neither a Republican or a Democrat” until it comes right down to it and we actually meet a Christian on the other side of the political aisle. That’s when the gospel all of the sudden becomes faith in Jesus + vote for John McCain. I thank God that my pastor hasn’t fallen into this error, but that’s the way it is in many churches. And that’s also the way it is beneath the surface even if it isn’t necessarily lambasted from the pulpit. There are a lot of sincere seekers out there that feel they can’t join an evangelical church for fear that they’ll be mocked and slandered if they don’t toe the party line. While we’re busy slandering each other for our political opinions, babies are dying and people are going to hell. And that’s not okay with me.
I haven’t said all that there is to say, but I hope this is enough to create an atmosphere of grace for Christians to disagree on important issues without fear of slander and personal attacks.
Stay focused on Jesus!
I’ve taken some real heat for my last post. Some feel that I’ve downplayed the abortion issue as if it’s not important. Not true! I think the abortion issue is very important. One of the things I’m trying to say is that when it comes to this issue, it’s not necessarily black and white the best way to save babies. I argued that overturning Roe Vs Wade will not make abortion illegal and even if abortion does become illegal, making it illegal isn’t necessarily going to save babies. Voting for a traditional pro-life candidate definitely makes a moral statement, but from a pragmatic point of view, it might not be the best way to save lives. There are some people that feel that Obama’s policies regarding economically depressed mothers will actually save more lives than a theoretical vote declaring that abortion is wrong. That’s a moral argument that I feel Christians can honestly disagree on without maligning each other.
Here’s an article that sheds some light on the issue.
May we all work together to build a culture of life!
My name is Aaron D. Taylor and I’m a pro-life Christian. You may not recognize me now, but 8 years ago I attended a Pentecostal Bible school that openly encouraged their students to fast and pray that George W. Bush would defeat Al Gore in the 2000 election. I did. For forty days I skipped dinner after work so I could go to my friend Nick’s apartment and cry out to God for a man in the White House committed to overturning Roe Vs. Wade.
That was then. My current incarnation is a far-cry from the politically self-assured black and white no nonsense God is a republican fundamentalist I used to be. The fact that I won’t declare my allegiance to a political party—be it republican or democrat—is something that I’m reasonably certain has annoyed the snot out of certain friends and family members. Most of the time when the subject of politics comes up in my family, I just smile and nod. (So how about those Rams?)
The odd part about it is, my ambivalent attitude towards all things political isn’t because I’m less pro-life than I used to be, it’s because I’m more pro-life than I was 8 years ago. I’ve come to realize that if I’m going to call myself pro-life and be consistent, then I’m going to have to have just as much respect for human life after the womb as I do before the womb, otherwise, all I really am is pro-birth.
It’s precisely at this point that things get murky. Throughout the decade of the 90’s, sanctions imposed by the U .S. government denied the Iraqi people access to medical supplies and basic sanitation and, as a result, killed about a half a million children. As I look back on it, I can’t recall any high profile “pro-life” Christian leader speaking out against children dying in Iraq as a result of U.S. sanctions. Neither do I know of any Christian leader voting solely on the issue of abortion speaking out against the use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs by U.S. coalition forces in Iraq. Both of these directly affect not only babies, but adults as well—even after the troops leave. My question to single issue voters is this. Does your concern for babies include Iraqi babies or is it only American babies that you’re concerned about?
I can hear the half-screams already. “But Aaron, don’t you know that the sanctions in Iraq and the U.S. invasion were for the protection of the American people?” Well…not everybody agrees with that—and that’s exactly my point. I have no problem with my brothers and sisters in Christ voting on issues that they care about, as long as they recognize that, unless one of the candidates is running against a potential Hitler or Stalin, every vote in a fallen world for a sword-wielding politician is an imperfect vote, therefore Christians have no business trumpeting a particular person or party as the only morally acceptable choice. The reality is Biblical values cannot be translated into the political sphere without a considerable degree of ambiguity—and neither are they intended to.
Take for example the issue of abortion. For all of the charismatic “prophets” and “apostles” declaring Sarah Palin the next Esther because of her opposition to Roe Vs. Wade, the truth is Roe Vs Wade could be overturned tomorrow and it will not make abortion illegal. All it will do is send the issue back to the states and, given the current political climate, most states are unlikely to outlaw it. But let’s temporarily assume that I’m wrong and by some magic-wand (or an act of God) abortion is declared officially illegal in the U.S.A. Will that stop abortions?
No it won’t. Nearly half of all the abortions in the world are performed in countries where abortion is illegal. The reason is because the greatest factor contributing to the number of abortions world-wide is not legality, but poverty. You want to know where the fewest abortions are taking place in the world? Western Europe, where abortions are legal but rare because of policies that “spread the wealth around” much to the chagrin of the USA’s most prominent social scholar—Joe the plumber.
And that’s just the abortion issue. A family member the other day told me that God only cares about the moral issues, meaning abortion and gay marriage. I agree that God cares about these two issues, where I disagree is the idea that God only cares about these two issues. Why? Because there are about 2,000 verses in the Bible that speak to poverty related issues and, last time I checked, I can’t find one verse in the Bible that speaks to the abortion issue—or for that matter the gay marriage issue (which McCain and Obama virtually agree on)—as a matter of public policy.
If the prophets Micah, Isaiah, Amos, Malachi and James the brother of Jesus are going to have any influence on my vote, then I have to conclude that wage related issues are certainly in play for what constitutes as a moral issue. Even more, when I take nearly all the prophets into consideration, I have to conclude that God cares a whole lot about the treatment of refugees. That being said, I now have to ask myself the question of whether God would consider the 2 million Iraqi refugees barely surviving in Syria and Jordan a moral issue (not to mention another 2 million internally displaced people living inside Iraq) and who actually has a plan to help them. At the time of this writing, only one candidate is talking about that and—hint hint—it’s not the “pro-life” candidate.
After an insane amount of thought and study, I’ve decided that I’m going to vote tomorrow. Do I have doubts and fears about the person that I’ve chosen? Yes I do. Is the person that I’m voting for the Messiah? Not by a long shot. Is the person that I’m voting for an imperfect choice? The answer is absolutely yes. But what bothers me is I wonder if my fellow believers who vote for the other candidate are willing to admit the same? I wonder if at the end of the day we can all recognize that thoughtful Christians can be found on both sides of the political aisle? Does God care about more than two issues? To borrow a phrase from a popular American governor, you betcha!