Our Heathen President

seal

I am calling upon all Christians everywhere (well, at least in God’s special promised land of America) to fire up the Christian Outrage Machine.

Let’s be honest, we were a little concerned what we’d be outraged about once A&E brought Phil back to filming Duck Dynasty. But never fear, new outrage is here!

It goes back to the religious practices (or lack thereof) of the Commander in Chief, President Obama. You see, people who really care about such things have discovered that he’s only been to church 18 times since taking office!

Only 18 times!

That averages almost 4 times a year.

Can you believe that guy? How can he claim to be a Christian and “forsake the fellowship of believers”? You would think that a true Christian president would be in church every Sunday. You would think that a true Christian president wouldn’t act like the majority of Christians in America, who all attend church services fewer than 12 times a year (less than once a month).

No, a Christian president should be better than us. He should be in church more than we are. He should pray more frequently than we do. He should read his Bible daily and have a good chunk of it memorized.

It’s almost as though he has forgotten the righteousness received from the Holy Sanctuary and would rather live a Romans 3:21-26 kind of life ~

But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of theglory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.

Oh, well. I guess he’ll learn on Judgment Day when God checks his church attendance record. As a Christian Nation we need to rise up against this president’s mentality. We need to show him and teach him a lesson. So, in order to make our statement loud and clear, let’s be in church every Sunday in 2014.

That’ll teach our heathen president a lesson. So I’ll see you Sunday.

Right…?

The Rebellious American Spirit

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case there was any doubt in your mind, yes – Americans have a rebellious spirit. You can see this most evidently in political diatribes on social media. We love to stick it to each other. We rail against the horrible policies of our opponents and those of differing agendas and parties.

In extreme cases, I’ve seen people call for Soldiers to openly rise up and seize the White House and remove the President from power. In less extreme cases, I’ve seen people call all sorts of horrible names and level all sorts of wicked accusations against politicians with whom the accusers disagree. It seems that there is no such thing as civil discourse any more.

What really saddens me is how quickly Christians jump on board with this kind of behavior. It’s as though we are giving in to our basest nature and forgetting the Godly nature that is supposed to now guide us. We justify our behavior and our language in all sorts of ways – trying to find an excuse for why we’re calling Senator So-and-So a poo-poo head or linking the President to Hitler. It goes on and on.

The simple fact is this – I don’t see any cause in the Bible for treating people like this. The Apostle Paul seems pretty straightforward:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.

Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:1-7)

Of course, Paul’s “governing authorities” were not the duly elected officials of our era. We’re talking about the Emperor and his governors. You know…the ones who put Christians to death. And still Paul calls us to surrender our rebellious spirit to God and to subject ourselves to the authorities. If God is really in control of this world, then even the authorities we despise are part of his plan.

Politically minded Christians are the worst, because we tend to justify our behavior with the God-card – trying to mix our politics and faith. Missiologist Ed Stetzer recently wrote: When you mix politics and religion you get politics.

Even when we disagree with the policies and decisions of the elected officials, let us make sure that we are not embracing a sinful rebellious spirit but can submit; Republican, Democrat, Independent, whomever.

No matter what happens in the country, this world is not our home. Our ultimate allegiance is not to the flag but to our God. Eventually you will get jerked around by government and organizations – it’s the nature of the beast (yes, pun intended). But take it with a measure of grace and know that God’s got bigger plans than American health care, or gay marriage, ____________ (insert the issue of your choosing).

No matter what happens God is still God.

Related Posts:
Patriotism Vs. Faith
Why The American War For Independence Was Unbiblical
Why You Need to Leave the President Alone

Is Barack Obama the Antichrist?

...and even now is already in the world.
…and even now is already in the world.

Is Barack Obama the Antichrist?

No.

He is not.

This is one of those conversations I wish we didn’t even need to be having. Yet here we are. I can’t believe the amount of hatred I’ve seen directed against President Obama. And yes, I’ve seen many accuse him of being the Antichrist.

But he’s not. In fact, the Bible barely makes mention of any single person being a mega-villain, end of the world, apocalyptic Antichrist. There is one paragraph in 2 Thessalonians that refers to the “man of lawlessness” but it is vague in typical apocalyptic style and is not even close to a description of President Obama.

For the most part, the supervillain antichrist is the stuff of Christian fiction (that means it’s made up out of a writer’s imagination as opposed to non-fiction which is literature that is true, like history, biography, science, etc.). It’s not even good Christian fiction at that. It gives us this image of Nicolae, a super-evil dude who is the epitome of all things evil who ushers in the end of the world and the eventual reign of Christ.

Fiction.

Not real.

The Bible does talk about antichrist, but probably not in the way you think:

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:18, 22)

John did not consider there to be a single cataclysmic figure, but established that many who oppose Christ are already in the world. Rather than a personal villain, John sees the antichrist as anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (Anointed One or Messiah). If that’s our criteria for antichrist then John was right – many antichrists have come. And I’m sure many more will come.

John continues:

Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:3)

We don’t have to wait for the antichrist to come. It’s not some far-off distant event. John said nearly 2000 years ago that the spirit was already in the world. Stop waiting for that apocalyptic, Hollywood villain.

Now as to Mr. Obama specifically – he has publically declared that he is a Christian, a believer in Jesus. If he is not denying that Jesus is Christ then Mr. Obama cannot be the antichrist. It seems like pretty clear logic to me.

So what is our beef with Mr. Obama? It seems that we’ve taken our political animosity and clothed it in religious terms and ideas. We’re not happy with how he runs the government. We’re not content with his direction and vision for the future. So we take our political unrest and couch it in apocalyptic language. This is detrimental on several levels:

  1. It does not allow for genuine political discourse. Any time someone uses the God-card it immediately shuts down conversation. I knew a guy one time who told me that God told him that he was supposed to leave our college and move to the northwest. What can you say to that? “No, God didn’t tell you that.” The God-card is a conversation ender. It’s used by angry, political Christians. Instead, let’s actually talk about ideas and policies. Let’s use our words to express why we are upset about the vision and direction of the government. Then let’s use our citizenship to affect change through our voting.
  2. It perpetuates bad theology. The Bible never talks about a single antichrist villain. The idea that there is one big baddie who is the binary opposite to Jesus is bad theology. There is no power that is equal to God. The idea of polar opposites is dualism. It’s not Christian faith. Instead of looking for one person to usher in the end of the world, let’s focus on living kingdom lives here and now. Jesus preached, “Change your way of thinking, for the kingdom of heaven is here and now.”
  3. It damages Christian credibility in this world. How can people take us seriously if we’re running off at the mouth putting spiritual villain labels on any politician we don’t like?

We have to take Mr. Obama at his word when he says that he is a Christian. Who are we to disagree? We don’t know his heart or his relationship with God. Stop using faith as a catapult for your political ammo.

Is Barack Obama the antichrist.

No. He is not.

Jesus & The Government

Image courtesy of nirots at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of nirots at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am delighted to have Kevin Linzey as my first guest blogger. Kevin is husband to Britt, dad to 3 awesome boys, and loves bromance movies. Oh yeah, he is also an Army Finance Officer who did his undergrad studies at West Point (The United States Military Academy) and his graduate work at Syracuse University. Take it away, Kev!

What is the role of government? What SHOULD BE the role of government? These questions are easy enough to ask — difficult to answer. Many people are bothered these days by the government shutdown. Even our national leaders cannot agree on what the role of government should be. Should the government force health insurance on people? Should the government pay for this or subsidize that? What about the debt ceiling?

My education (and personal interest) is in economics. There are many branches of economics from macro-economics (performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of an economy as a whole) to international economics (market relationships among the nations) to micro economics (the study of individuals’ interactions in markets). The one thing that ties it all together is that economics is the study of choices and incentives. It is the study of behavior and trying to figure out why people, firms, or countries behave the way they do.

The basis for most of economics is that people want stuff. People are creative problem-solvers and generally find a way to provide stuff to each other. Over time people specialize based on skills, talents, and interests. One person might provide labor as a handyman. He sells his skills and time fixing people’s houses. Money is used as a common exchange system so we don’t have to barter and trade. The person needing the washing machine repaired doesn’t give the repairman dinner. The repairman gets money that he can then use to buy whatever he wants. Currency is a great system to enable specialization!

Ok so enough of the basics. Back to the question; What is the role of government?

All types of goods have markets. This is the exchange of goods and services where some people provide the goods and other people consume them. The meeting point between the people selling and the people buying? That is the price. Most people are familiar with the interaction of supply and demand. If something has a lot of supply but low demand, the price will be low. If demand goes up, the price will go up. Since we have currency as a medium of exchange, working in free markets where suppliers and consumers can come to an agreement on price it is a great system. Everyone gets a choice. Some people will line up outside the Apple store 3 days before the new iPhone comes out and pay $400 for a new phone. Others will wait a couple years until the supply has increased and overall demand has gone down and the price has dropped to $100 for the same phone. In cases like this, no government is needed (except maybe police to keep the Apple fanatics from fighting for a place in line!).

However, there are some markets that fail. Some goods or services are not provided in the right quantity for the good of society. These are generally called public goods. Public goods are defined as non-excludable (you can’t stop people from consuming it) and non-rivalrous (my consumption does not stop your consumption). The classic public good is defense/security. An Army provides defense to everyone. Just because I am safe doesn’t mean you are not safe. We all consume security. And if we live in a secure country, there is no way to stop someone from consuming that security.

So the problem with public goods is that there is little incentive for the individual to pay for that good. Everyone else will pay for it, so why should I? That’s how we get the free rider problem. The problem is that if everyone tries to get a free ride, NO ONE will pay and we won’t get the public good! Other examples of public goods are lighthouses, clean streets, flood control, etc.

Another type of market failure is when there are negative externalities. This is just a hoity-toity way to say some choices have bad consequences that affect other people. A company many save money by producing as much as it can and just ignoring pollution. However, the rest of the community has to deal with the pollution whether they want to or not!

A third type of market failure is information asymmetry. This means that not everyone shares information equally. Buyers may not know the bad things about what they are buying because the company doesn’t tell them. Or it could be individuals buying and selling a used car. How does the buyer know whether or not he is buying a lemon? How does he know the guy selling it is being honest? Unless he’s a mechanic and very knowledgeable about cars he may never know! So he offers a lowball price to cover the risk he faces that he might have to spend money to fix up the potential lemon.

Another information related problem is copyright/patent enforcement. In today’s information society, it is pretty easy to find out how something is made. If anyone could reproduce anything, what incentive is there to be creative and come up with new products? If you won’t get to profit off your invention, why bother inventing it?

There are still more market failures but you probably get the point. Individual incentives sometimes don’t lead to the best situations for the whole of society. This is where government comes in.  A legitimate government (i.e. all people recognize its authority) can effectively enforce solutions to the market failures. It will tax everyone to pay for public goods so there are no free riders. It will make sure people don’t make bad choices that affect their neighbors (pollution, etc.). It will protect consumers who might not otherwise have the right information to make good choices. It will enforce patents and copyrights so people can benefit from their ideas.  Addressing market failure is a commonly agreed to role of government among economists.

The Bible talks about the role of government many times. In the time of Samuel, Israel decided they wanted a king. Prior to Saul, the nation had no king. Judges and priests were the social leaders. They helped resolve disputes and enforce justice. They were recognized as legitimate by the people because the people acknowledged the authority God placed on those judges and priests.

But then God set the precedent for peaceful voting when he allowed the people to (in effect) revolt against his social order. The people thought they knew better and demanded a king. God gave them a king but warned them about all the bad that would come of it. When the people again demanded a king God allowed it.

Unfortunately we focus so much on our earthly incentives, the economic gain from exchanging goods and services. We focus on getting more money and getting more stuff. We think and ponder about the forms of government and even God’s people complain just as we have been doing since the Israelites complained to Samuel. We argue and fight but don’t take heed of the warning God gave about earthly governments.

Jesus took a different approach to teaching priorities. He said multiple times that his Kingdom was not of this world. He was not concerned with politics. The fighting among people for power has nothing to do with God’s kingdom. When he was asked about money he said, “Give to the government what belongs to the government. And give to God what belongs to God.”

We need rules. We need enforceable processes to protect people during disputes. While a free market is the most beneficial system for exchanging goods and services, in a fallen world greed, pride, deception, and all the bad things will surely be present. Even when God’s people had no king, God still gave them judges to help resolve problems.

Letting people make their own choices for their own best interests rather than being told what to do by an oppressive government is usually the best way. But markets do fail. Greed and power spur people to take advantage of one another. But in all the wrangling over political power and crashing markets let’s remember some of the benefits of God’s kingdom not being of this world.

God will never fail.

You can’t shut down God.

And he has paid our debts in full.

Related Posts:
– Thus Spake Jesus: It’s the Economy, Stupid!

Obamacare: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Image courtesy of taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I hate it when my friends make me think. It’s so much easier to hold to my ideas without ever having to think through them and see them from other perspectives. If you’re alive in America today you’ve probably been inundated with stories, articles, and opinions regarding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). I know I have been. But then a friend (who will remain anonymous – he LOVES it when I cite him anonymously) and I were involved in a group discussion in which someone said:

“Government control comes with a price that some do not want.”

To which my friend replied:

“What is this price you aren’t willing to pay? If we’re honest, this price most aren’t willing to pay is a smaller bank account. Most aren’t willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of people we don’t know.”

That’s what a lot of this comes down to, isn’t it? I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got and it’s already a struggle as it is. Now I’ve got to sacrifice more for people I don’t even know? I’ve got a mortgage. I’ve got kids in school. That’s how my mind went, anyway. I don’t want a smaller bank account. I’m trying to put into it, not withdraw from it!

But when do we actually start allowing out faith to influence our behavior? As Christians we claim that God loves people. We claim that we love God. We often forget to make the connection that loving God then means that we love people too, and that means caring for people who don’t have the ability to care for themselves.

James has a powerful passage in his letter in which he says:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warm and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? (James 2:14-16)

I’m sure men smarter than I am can argue about the exact significance of the Greek parsing and explain that this passage doesn’t really relate to the Affordable Care Act. As for me, I see a biblical principle at play: faith must be balanced out by caring for the practical needs of those we encounter. It does no good to wish people well if we’re not actually going to do anything about it.

Without actions to back it up faith is incomplete. We can recite the important elements of faith – love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength – but then miss the heart of God’s work; caring for people. Have you been in a place where you need help and someone has reached out to give you a hand? The way we want people to act towards us is the same way we ought to act towards them. Shouldn’t this come out in our social and political policies as well as our personal lives?

I believe that the Affordable Care Act is flawed legislation. The idea of forcing people to participate rubs me the wrong way – you cannot legislate hearts and attitudes. Still, I believe that the principle behind it is ultimately a biblical principle. Shouldn’t Christians be leading the charge to make sure that we are caring for people who need help? So what’s really behind our opposition to the ACA? Is it something about the legislation itself that we think could be done better?

Or is it bristling at being mandated to participate and the idea that our money will go to be helping someone else?

Related Posts:
Socialism and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Socialism and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Who is the prisoner? Who is the inmate?
Who is the prisoner? Who is the inmate?

This government shutdown is some crazy stuff, huh? And much of it seems to be revolving around the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare.

What I find interesting is that the act was already signed into law years ago. The fight now comes down to funding and rehashing arguments from years past. I’ve seen a lot of Christians who are really upset by this legislation. It has been criticized as drawing the United States into Socialism. And, honestly, I think there’s something to that argument.

I don’t know if I’d put a label on it but it seems like the left leans socialist. The idea of big government mandating what the citizens need to do for their own good seems socialist. Government regulation isn’t necessarily a bad thing – sometimes it takes THE MAN stepping in to see necessary changes and growth. It was good in when it came to women’s votes and desegregating the nation. In ethics – the government stepping in is good. In business, however, it’s a different game. More government regulation means less capitalistic freedom for citizens. It’s the government system or nothing.

Merriam-Webster says: Socialism is a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies….

I guess I focused in on the control element, but I would say that the ACA does tend towards socialism. Big Brother is taking away control from the companies to run themselves and imposing regulations. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – Jesus and the early Church had some similar leanings. In fact, early Christians seemed downright Communist! Luke tells us in his book of Acts:

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. (Acts 2:44-45)

Dang! Really? They practiced a distribution of wealth? Crazy, right? They clearly were not Republicans. But in a small setting where people knew each other and the distribution was VOLUNTARY, the system seems to work. They lived out the principles of 1 John 15-17:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

But that was about the close-knit Christian community taking care of itself. You knew where the money was going and why it was going. Large-scale socialism simply says, “We’re taking what you have and giving it to someone else because it’s all ours anyway. You don’t really own it.”

But in order for socialism to work then all the sheep need to be sheered equally. The problem is that it never works out that way. Some of the fat sheep who run the flock always find a way to beat the system – to live through loopholes so that there becomes a dichotomy between those who lead the Socialist system and those who merely live in it.

I actually think it’s a good thing to make sure all people have access to health care. I think that Christians ought to be leading the way to ensure that people are cared for. The part that gets my knickers in a twist is fining people who want to opt out. Can you picture that at McDonald’s?

“Would you like fries with that order?”

“No thanks.”

“Okay – that will be five dollars for not giving you fries.”

“What?!?”

Someone told me that, while the ACA is not a perfect system, it is a flawed system taking steps in the right direction. Perhaps. I guess only time will tell as this thing gets resolved (maybe…hopefully…one day).

However it comes out, I urge Christians to behave decently. We don’t like to be told what to do. We rebel against authority we feel is out of line. And, if the government ever tells us to do things contrary to our spiritual convictions, I will be standing with you on the front line saying, “NO WAY!” But this isn’t the case here. It’s not a spiritual issue, it’s a governmental issue. Let’s back off the rhetoric and defamation of character and all of the other inappropriate behavior for followers of Jesus. It’s okay to disagree. It’s okay to seek to change legislation. However, too many Christians are led by their political passions and forget that their ultimate allegiance is to Jesus.

The Apostle Peter tells us:

Be subject for the Lords sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. (1 Peter 2:13-15)

I don’t anticipate things will die down quietly. Most of us will hold to our positions without even considering an alternative. But, no matter what your political position, let us act like followers of the King of the Universe.

Sound off! Where do you stand on the ACA? Have you seen people behaving badly? Please keep comments and conversation civil….

Related Posts:
– Why Democrats are Wrong (okay, Republicans, too)
– Why You Need to Leave the President Alone
– Obamacare: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Obama, Christianity and Immigration Reform

Image courtesy of twobee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of twobee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The news is reporting that Mr. Obama is moving to shield millions of illegal immigrants. It seems the Left and the Right are back at it – fighting for their particular view of what is right.

Before I even began to write this post I knew that immigration reform is a very charged topic. I also no that there is no monolithic Christian perspective on the issue. In fact, immigration is largely a national issue and not so much a spiritual one. That is to say, the bible never addresses how to handle immigration reform. The Bible DOES talk about foreigners and aliens and how to treat them. The Bible also addresses how to help those in need. Those are the issues we’ll look at today. Do you remember that movie Short Circuit from a while back? It’s about the robot that comes alive and has personality. The movie is filled with issues of identity: identity we give ourselves and identity given to us by others.short circuit On of my favorite scenes has two of the main characters talking and one asks the other about his identity – his heritage.

The white guy asks his (seemingly obvious) co-worker from India: “Where are you from?” To which his colleague responds: “Pittsburgh, originally.” 🙂

The passenger had a whole heap of presupposed ideas about his friend’s identity. This is part of our problem when it comes to immigration. We assume an “us vs. them” attitude. In the Old Testament we find that God gladly welcomes foreigners and aliens into the community of faith. Not only were they welcome but God saw to it that there were treated fairly and without discrimination.

God loves Foreigner?!?
God loves Foreigner?!?

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. ~ Leviticus 19:33-34 There is no room for an “other-than” mentality – they become us. Many Americans seem to hold to an immigration policy that embraces this wrong thinking. Heck, we still struggle with oppression and discrimination among natural-born citizens. The foreigner doesn’t stand a chance.

But God’s people are supposed to act fairly and inclusively no matter what. The New Testament letter of James tells us that our words need to match our actions. If we believe in a God that cares about people then so should we. It does no good to wish someone well if we fail to back up those words with our actions. I know that James wasn’t addressing international politics but I do believe that his words ought to make us think twice about how we behave towards foreigners looking to move to America.

While it may seem that I am in favor of flinging wide our national borders to any and all comers, I am not. I think that legal immigration should be embraced. I think that illegal immigration should be quashed. During the Exodus, when God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt, God made a provision to care for foreigners. The only stipulation was that Israel’s law would apply to the foreigners as well. In this case it meant circumcision. That’s a steep price to pay for citizenship! If foreigners want to legally immigrate and make our laws their laws I believe we should welcome them whole-heartedly.

Where I personally draw the line is when people look to circumvent laws for their own betterment. When all is said and done I know there is no easy answer or fix to immigration reform. I know that Christians will approach the issue from several perspectives and reach differing conclusions.

Regardless of how America addresses the issue as a nation, I believe Christians need to wrestle with these Bible verses and ask if we’re treating people the way God would want us to treat them. And remember – go back far enough and we’re all from somewhere else (even the “Native Americans”).

How about you? Have you given any thought to how God wants you to treat foreigners and aliens?

Related Posts:

You’re Breaking the Law But You Want the Church to Protect You?

Why Democrats Are Wrong (okay…Republicans, too)

United We Stand...
United We Stand…

We live in a highly polarized society. Sometimes it feels that moderates are seen as wishy-washy and that, if you were truly a believer in your cause, you ought to gravitate towards one extreme or the other. I have joked that being a true moderate is tough because the Right accuses you of selling out while the Left accuses you of not selling enough! But I believe that the best view is a moderate view – that extremism can lead us into dangerous waters. Please allow me to expound.

The Left/Liberal/Progressive/whatdowecallitthesedays? side is often seen as the side that cares about issues pertaining to social justice, people care, and advocacy.

The Right/Conservative/Fundamentalists/whatdowecallitthesedays? side is often seen as the side that cares about issues pertaining to piety, personal righteousness, and morality. The talking heads from both ends of the spectrum use these stereotypes to beat up their opponents. Left commentators talk about how uncaring Right politicians and leaders are. Right commentators talk about how the Left wants to destroy family values and morality and turn this nation into one giant Socialist commune.

I believe that there are positive elements to both sides (now would be an appropriate time to gasp and start writing your apologetic diatribe for the comments section). Not only are there positive elements to both sides, but I believe that God calls us to a more moderate position – the only real way forward.

In the New Testament, the letter of James tells us:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

BAM. There it is. There are two sides to this coin. James is both Liberal AND Conservative at the same time! Can it be?!? He tells us that pure religion is two-sided. Part one is the social justice element that the Left loves so much – take care of widows and orphans in their distress. With the Ancient Near East (ANE) workforce being what it was, if you were a widow or an orphan you were just plumb outta luck. You had a good chance of going without food, shelter, or any other basic necessity. It was the job of the religious faithful to care for these who could not care for themselves. If you extend that principle into our modern society we would probably do well to add other groups in there. While widows can join the workforce, are we seeking to take care of people who are disadvantaged and disenfranchised? Are we actively looking to care for those who are in a bad way? Who have no leg up in society? If not then all of our religion can be flushed down the pooper.

But on the other side of the coin James shows us his Conservative streak. Pure and faultless religion includes keeping oneself from being polluted by the world. There is an element of personal righteousness, morality, and character involved. Without it, our religion is junk and is worthless. All you Conservatives – give a cheer! Character counts. It doesn’t matter how many poor people you help, how many social programs you implement, or how much to create a Socialist environment that takes care of everyone and every little thing. Without righteousness and holiness is worthless.

So where does that leave us? I believe that it means that faithful Christians ought to examine their politics in light of the Bible. It means that those of us who lean Left need to remember that holiness matters. Those of us who lean Right need to remember that practically caring for people matters. It’s not one or the other. It’s BOTH AND.

If we actually lived this way we’d put a lot of the talking heads out of work. Their books, radio shows, and news programs thrive on dividing people to the extreme. But it’s not biblical, for we are called to both. So…you up for it? Will you put faith before politics and try to live BOTH AND? Let’s put some talking heads out of work. 😉

How about you? What experiences have you had with the Left, the Right, or trying to walk the Moderate middle?

Why You Need to Leave the President Alone

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I saw an interesting “news” article today. President Obama likes broccoli. I knew there was something up with that guy. I mean, who admits that his favorite food is broccoli?!? Icecream, sure. Lasagna, I can go with that. Nachos Supreme, definitely. But broccoli? C’mon!

Actually, like many of you, I don’t consider this to be newsworthy.   Not.at.all.   But there it was on my homepage – daring me to click the link and find out why there is any hoopla about the president and his veggies. It seems that there’s a little waffling when it comes to his food choices (I’m killing myself here – I hope you appreciate puns as much as I do). The president has mentioned how great pizza night is in the West Wing. Now he’s trying to push broccoli just because he’s at a healthy eating event? How DARE he (how many exclamation points and question marks do I need to adequately express outrage in print?)?!?!?

Hang with me here…I’m stretching…but nope, still not news worthy. And yet…sigh…it’s on the news, all over Twitter, and who knows where else. Which brings me to today’s point: it’s time to leave the President alone.

Obviously I’m gearing this towards anti-Obama-ites (is that a thing?). But bear with me. I’m writing as a registered Republican who really wanted Mike Huckabee to be POTUS. I’m not what you would call an Obama supporter. I disagree with some of his major points of view.

But here’s the thing – Im sick and tired of the vitriol being spewed from those who oppose him. Republicans, Tea Party Hooligans, Independents, Right Wing Democrats, whoever…. The man gets a lot of hate pushed his way from radio, television, Twitter, Facebook, and every corner where you might find an angry conservative.

Stop it.

Stop sharing the memes denigrating him, his ethnicity, his policies, and everything else. It’s not Christian. There, I said it. It isn’t godly to keep the insults and put-downs going around.

The Bible tells us that we are to be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor or to governors. No, I’m not calling the President an emperor, so stop with the accusations of empire and dictatorship. The principle from the Bible is that Christians are good people who submit to authorities over us and treat people with honor and respect. That even applies to national leaders that we may dislike or disagree with.

I’m not asking to agree with his policies. I don’t. Our national government has given us a proper outlet for voicing opposition through the ballot box, petitions, and other lawful means to let our dissent be heard. Personal attacks are not part of God’s agenda for healthy Christian behavior.

So please, no more anti-Obama memes. No more name-calling. No more hateful ranting. If you consider yourself to be a person of faith it is time to knock it off. And don’t worry – the next time there is a conservative person in office I’ll be telling the Left Wing folks the same thing.

What do you think? Have you seen anti-government sentiment go too far? Where do you think Christians should draw the line?