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Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. Shel Silverstein

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thoughts on being a Liberal Christian: (this post will probably offend you)

Okay, this blog post is definitely going to be more on the ranty side. First off I want to say that I am a Christian. I also am majoring in Global Studies/ Political science. In preparation for the upcoming election I have been reading both the Republican and the Democratic platforms published on their respective websites. However, this rant is not necessarily towards one side or the other, or really about politics at all. It is about hypocrisy, across the board.

 I have the word "Faith" tattooed on the inside of my left wrist and find myself caught in many heated conversations because of it. I do not rub elbows with many fellow Christians very often. I live in a low-income area of Austin, I have befriended people based on their person rather than their religious tendencies. Most people I meet and converse with have very similar opinions. Most argue that Christians (and religions in general) are corrupt and hypocritical. The profess one thing, and act another. And sadly, I agree 100%. I feel as though, the religion I affiliate with personally, in general, does not uphold the simple requests Jesus made to us. I also strongly believe that if more Christians did uphold these requests, we would not face such backlash from everyone else. 

Now this rant is about to go political and I know I will (probably) be offensive. 

The Republican Party presents itself as the only party that truly upholds Christian values that are so central to society. That ANY step off the Christian line threatens the foundation of our country.

On page twelve of the Republican Platform, it states:
"We support the public display of the Ten Commandments" 

I assume that this means that they pride themselves in upholding these commandments. Let's take a closer look (I have selected the three I think are more predominately violated): 

2. You must not make for yourself an idol
Although this argument is dependent upon latter arguments, I think its good to think about it first. There are so many commands made by Jesus in the Bible that we are ignoring in order to maintain economic privileges. In my heart, I strongly feel as though ignoring those commands so you can make as much profit as possible is 100% hypocritical and undermines any claim that to support the Republican party for religious reasons.

4. Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 
How can monetarily average and below average American citizens observe the Sabbath when two combined full time minimum wage jobs still doesn't adequately provide for their families? Especially when programs who provide support to them are cut so the wealthy citizens can have lower taxes to buy more things they don't need.

6. You must not murder.
I 100% understand that some war and violence is unavoidable. All of human history has been littered with violence, including Christian history. However, how does undermining a Christian-based concept (such as marriage solely between man and woman) be so threatening to our nation, if one of the most important COMMANDS in the Bible being broken over and over every single day totally acceptable?

Also, I would like to first say that these arguments I have made are not ALL specifically towards the Republican party, but towards government as America knows it. All I am arguing here is that Republicans cannot simply pick and choose which Biblical commands to abide by.

When I was in elementary school, 5th grade specifically, I had very little friends and was teased frequently. In order to cope with this, I chose a Bible verse to memorize. To this day, I can recite it, and it remains a foundational teaching to my faith. 

Luke 6:37
"Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you shall be forgiven."

So, based on this scripture, you should not be surprised at my total shock when I read in the Republican platform that they violated all three in two little sentences.

"We condemn the State blacklisting religious groups which decline to arrange adoptions by same-sex couples. We condemn the hate campaigns, threats of violence and vandalism by proponents of same-sex marriage against advocates of traditional marriage." (Page 12 Republican Platform)

Judging those who take part in or support same sex marriage, proudly condemning (ACTUALLY using the exact word that Jesus told us not to use), and blatantly taking an unforgiving attitude.

Also, side note:

Seriously? Like seriously, would Jesus do this? Matthew 5:38-42

Jesus never once, never once acted in anyway but lovingly towards anyone EXCEPT those who adhered to and taught laws that did not serve His wishes and His Kingdom. Those who extend hate on behalf of Jesus definitely qualifies as the latter. 

"The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution well determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that traditional marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, engage in crime, or get pregnant outside of marriage... Furthermore the future of marriage affects freedom." (page 31 Republican Platform)

Excuse me. Two points to be made here.

First, I want to apologize to all single parents, unmarried parents, and gay parents who have been directly offended by this passage. I argue that despite marital status, parental INVOLVEMENT is what  is best for children. There are PLENTY of children raised in "traditional" heterosexual homes that suffer. Marriage is not the answer, involvement is.

1. MAYBE if children of non-traditional parents (i.e. homosexual parents) weren't teased by children raised to judge others, or told by their future potential PRESIDENT that their parents are somehow flawed, they would not resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms or fall to peer pressure to fit in to a society that otherwise does not accept them.

2. The biggest issues facing childhood healthiness and happiness is money. Children whose parents work multiple jobs, seven days a week, and still can't pay the bills... do you think the fact that they have traditionally married parents keeps them from feeling neglected, discouraged, and unable (and unwilling) to say no to unhealthy temptations? Nope. Do you think the fact that they have traditionally married parents somehow makes their extremely under funded and inefficient educational programs better? Nope. Do you think cutting social programs that enable their parents to be home more often, or cutting funding to their schools is going to solve any of those problems? Absolutely not.

3. Here's an unexpected 3rd argument for you, how in the WORLD does forcing a mold on love and marriage affect FREEDOM? Well maybe they were correct. It absolutely affects freedom. Extremely negatively. Remember when interracial marriages were illegal? Remember all the "Biblical" support to back up "Traditional single race marriages" were essential to maintaining our values as a country? How does this new marriage issue differ? It doesn't... it's simply a modern violation of the same rights..to choose your parter. We have freedom OF religion, so why can't those who don't have a religion be free FROM religion and laws based upon it? Also, I dare anyone to show me somewhere in the Bible where JESUS says same-sex marriage is not okay.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. "
John 15:12

"Love one another" means "love all people," not just "love other Christians."

One the Republican Party's major foundational arguments is that of severely reducing any sort of welfare, and decreasing taxes on the wealthy. Was Jesus a capitalistic minded individual who opted to leave those who couldn't keep up behind so he could pocket a few extra bucks?

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." 
Peter 4:9

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."
1 Timothy 6:17-19

Also, as hypocrisy in general within Christianity goes, so many manipulate these commands to mean.. be generous to your church. Now, while I think that is important, I also more firmly believe that Jesus meant the Church as in His bride. His people. Look who Jesus invested in... the sick, the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed, the sinners... That's where our tithes should go. Not to indefinite programs that only feeds the already Christian church body. However, on the other side, there are SO many great churches out there that ARE super generous in following Jesus's investment. 

"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets."
Matthew 7:12

To all those voting based on tax reasons, who support the removal of essential social programs, who believe that those who can't adequately provide for themselves should be left behind, here is some food for thought: 

(P.S. Those addicted to drugs and alcohol are suffering a DISEASE, and they deserve rights too. Looking down on them and believing that they don't deserve basic human essentials and REFUSING them help because they made mistakes like everyone else and fell victim to addiction, is not what Jesus would do. Supporting a health care system that REFUSES treatment to those with serious diseases or those who are struggling to find a job, leaving them to go extremely deep into the debt hole or sacrifice their health, is also something Jesus would not do)

"But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him--how can God's love be within him ?"
1 John 3:17

"Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God."
Proverbs 13:41

"The Christian who is pure and without fault, from God the Father's point of view, is the one who takes care of orphans and widows, and who remains true to the Lord--not soiled and dirtied by his contacts with the world."
James 1:27

"He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need."
Prov. 21:13

"If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty," and then don't give him clothes or food, what good does that do?"
James 2:15-16 

"Are there still some among you who hold that "only believing" is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too--so strongly that they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that "believing" is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith."
James 2:19-20

 For I was hungry and you wouldn't feed me; thirsty, and you wouldn't give me anything to drink; a stranger, and you refused me hospitality; naked, and you wouldn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me.' "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?' "And I will answer, 'When you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing help to me.' "And they shall go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous into everlasting life."
Matthew 25:42-26

"If you have two coats," he replied, "give one to the poor. If you have extra food, give it away to those who are hungry."
Luke 3:11

Would I like a country with a Christian based government? I would LOVE it. However, the only present self-proclaimed Christian aligned political party in our country is not following the Jesus that I have fallen in love with. In my eyes, and many others, they are only reinforcing the hypocrisy arguments that turn so many people away from even listening to what I have to say about my faith. 

I will be voting Democrat in November, because honestly, their policies are much more aligned with Jesus' (despite never once claiming to)*: Acceptance without any judgement, generosity without greed, helping others who struggle to help themselves. Patience, GRACE, and love WITHOUT conditions.

*Honestly, I am not a diehard supporter of either party. I also have many opinions about how our political system works in general, as well as the corrupt nature of most politicians regardless of party. However, when faced with three choices (the worst, the less worse, and apathy), I will always choose the best available. One step at a time to a better nation, better world.