Untypically, I am going to risk wading into the waters of controversy and share an article that came across my desk last week. It is thought-provoking at the least. I take this risk only because of the extremely critical nature of the upcoming National Election.
Peter Heck - Guest Columnist http://www.peterheck.com
Is it a sin to vote for Barack Obama and the Democrats?
When you examine Paul's warnings in the New Testament, this question is a no-brainer.
With the recent proclamation of a Green Bay bishop that Christians who vote for someone supporting the gay or abortion agenda is putting their soul in jeopardy, there's been an increase in the amount of email in my inbox asking my take on whether it is a sin for Christians to be Democrats. I think a lot of people assume this is a difficult subject for me to address. I hate to disappoint them, but it's not.
I recently read an article from a self-proclaimed "Christian Democrat" explaining why they would be voting for Obama, and to a larger degree, supporting the Democratic Party. I am intentionally not linking to the original article for a reason. The article was full of the very kind of "fine-sounding arguments" that Paul warns us in Colossians to be on guard against. Given the sorry state of biblical Christianity in America, I know that several of these arguments could easily ensnare and trap a lot of confused Christians -- and I won't willfully provide a potential stumbling block to any believer.
It should be an axiom for Christ followers that while our faith should inform our politics, our politics should never inform our faith. But this particular author, as is often the case with Christian Democrats, has made an a priori commitment to supporting the Democrats and then seeks to find faith-based reasons to justify it. But here's the uncomfortable truth such individuals must confront: while it's certainly true that not every Republican is worthy of our support as Christians, any individual who runs under a platform that justifies the legal slaughter of innocent life made in the image of God is an unacceptable choice. Period.
Reading the list of supposed justifications for why Christians can turn a blind eye towards this outrageous offense, I imagine these Democrat apologists writing similar essays in the 1930s of how the Nazi Party was doing great things for infrastructure and social welfare programs in Germany. "Never mind that killing of the Jews thing," they would essentially argue. That's the underlying current of the Christian Democrat defense -- "never mind the killing of the unborn beings made in God's image thing." That's not to say that Democrats are Nazis, of course. It's to say that there is something dreadfully wrong with your priorities and moral compass when you try to find ways to excuse genocide. As a believer, I cannot imagine justifying that to God.
It's interesting, isn't it? Christian Democrats used to find ways to justify their support of a party that promoted slavery. Now they do the same for a party promoting abortion. Tragic.
Beyond that, how lost we are as a culture when Christians in name will actively, vocally, and apparently proudly support a man (Barack Obama) who just a few short months ago called on his country to rebel against God's own definition of the institution of marriage? This isn't about how we treat those who practice homosexuality. This is a case where Barack Obama declared that God is a bigot -- or at least that His prescription for what constitutes family is bigoted. Jesus affirmed marriage as a union of a husband and wife; Barack Obama suggested such a narrow description was discriminatory. Both can't be right.
As is typically the rationale, the entire case this particular Christian Democrat writer made was essentially economic. They abuse the biblical text and pretend that its instruction on personal generosity and benevolence is somehow a command for believers to usurp political power and begin compelling charity from the wealthy (even though, of course, compelled charity isn't charity at all). Jesus taught us to give to the needy out of a sense of love and compassion, not out of a begrudging obligation to the law of the land. Further, through its overtaxing and redistribution schemes, government often imperils our ability to give and support charitable causes.
But all that is lost on those believers convinced they must find some reason to excuse their loyalty to the Democrats. Take, for instance, this side-splitting line from the column I read: "To put it simply, I am a Democrat because the Democratic Party is doing more than the Republican Party to care for the 'least of these,' however imperfectly." Ah yes, how enlightened. Although the author didn't explain how record numbers of food stamp recipients, expanded welfare rolls, and more government dependency is "caring for the least of these."
Since LBJ declared a "war on poverty" through compassionate, liberal government policy, we have greatly increased the number of those in poverty. As Paul Ryan recently pointed out, in the war on poverty, poverty is winning. Why? Because government is not an institution that God ever intended to be an agent of compassion. The only words of Scripture that discuss the role of government describe it explicitly as an instrument of justice. Playing favorites, robbing from some to give to others in the name of compassion - i.e., government-sponsored theft -- is not in any way reconcilable with biblical values. Christian Democrats should visit an Indian reservation to see the face of big government "compassion." That is where the Democratic Party policies are leading our entire civilization. Caring for the least of these? All evidence to the contrary.
We live in scary times. I reflect often on the words of Timothy: "But the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear ... they will turn aside from truth to myths."
Reading words like those of these Christian Democrats only convinces me further, that time has arrived.Two quick addendums I would add to stave off the inevitable backlash of red herrings and strawmen.
First, I don't mean any of this as a personal attack. It is merely an assessment of what I see as a dangerously confused worldview. Christian Democrats often attempt to blend biblical authority with humanist philosophy, and it doesn't work. God is either sovereign or He's not. Surrendering to the Lordship of Christ means dying to yourself -- every part of yourself, including your politics. It's a time for choosing.
Second, none of this is saying that Christians should vote for Mitt Romney. That is an entirely separate question than whether they should vote for Barack Obama. Christians who accept the words of Scripture will not do the latter.
Peter Heck (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana.