When we began Hardly Serious two years ago, our goal was to mix real news with satire and avoid religion and politics at all costs. Today, I am breaking both of those rules at once in an attempt to determine exactly why Christian values have become synonymous with republican policy despite the two groups being worlds apart from virtually every fundamental level.
A quick glance at the electoral map from any given year in recent memory will reveal that the “Bible belt” of America has historically and overwhelmingly voted for republican candidates for decades and, one must assume, they do so based on a shared set of beliefs and social principles but do these principles actually align with the teaching of Jesus Christ? The fact is, in many cases, they do not.
Christian values include compassion, respect, tolerance, forgiveness, and love but somewhere along the way, it would seem, those Christian values are only applicable to other straight, white, married, Christians. For everyone else, these values are superseded by judgment, ridicule, and in the case of the GOP, legal persecution.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
We’ll start with a big one these days and discuss gay rights. The notion that homosexuality is a sin has been cherry picked from a few select passages of the Bible and can be debated until the second coming but the fact of the matter is that it is not up to man to deliver punishment for another’s sins. It is not up to man to judge another for their sins. We are told not to persecute but to love. If Christians truly believe that homosexuality is wrong, it is imperative that they still treat these men and women with respect and free of judgment.
To limit their rights or to refuse service to them in your businesses in the name of Jesus is a slap in the face to the teachings of Jesus. To support the passage of laws that somehow criminalizes or delegitimizes another person’s beliefs or values under the guise of moral high ground or Christian values is decidedly un-Christian.
At the risk of using the Lord’s name in vain, I don’t think the almighty creator would approve of his message of love and tolerance being warped into an excuse to treat people poorly. Remember that Jesus walked with prostitutes and adulterers, he did not declare that they were less valuable than the rest of the community.
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
We are a week into Donald Trump’s presidency and the suggestion of implementing torture has been very public and very pronounced. Under the Bush administration, many republicans fought the construction of a Muslim center near the World Trade Center. There are calls, and considerable public support, for registries of Muslims, surveillance of their houses of worship, and a growing trend of hate crimes across the country.
Of course this is all ridiculous because we are not fighting the Muslim faith, we are fighting extreme bastardizations of that faith. Just as most Christians would not want to be associated with the KKK or with the Oklahoma City bomber, most Muslims would rather not be associated with terrorists organizations a half world away.
Why does the party that is supposed to represent Christian values, then, seem so adamant to make the entire religion our enemy and persecute all those people associated with it? This country has very real enemies that need to be defeated but to assume that an entire religion is an enemy is foolish at best, dangerous at worst.
The biblical quote above, taken from the book of Luke, says we should offer our other cheek when we have been slapped. Am I suggesting that we allow terrorism to continue plaguing our world? Of course not. In this instance, by doing good to those among us who are “associated” with the enemy, we are showing the upper hand. We cannot claim moral high ground if we persecute those who simply follow the same religion that terrorists claim to follow. We must embrace those true and faithful Muslims that live in our neighborhoods, go to our schools, work in our offices, and play in our parks. Our treatment of Muslims, or refuges, or any other group deemed “the enemy” is what we will be judged upon.
The Poor and Sick
Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and becomes judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?
Much has been said about our treatment of the poor. The republicans seem hell bent on ignoring the growing issue in our country, giving financial breaks to the wealthy, cutting services that provide food, health care, or housing to those in need, and dismantling the only health insurance some people can afford.
They attach a negative stigma to entitlements and accuse those who require those services of being drains on the government budget. How do Christian values align with the republican policies on the poor and sick? They don’t. Not one bit.
But, by turning abortion into a social issue instead of a health issue (and ignoring the fact that pro choice is not a mandate but an option), turning welfare into a tax issue instead of an economic issue, and constantly reminding the working class that they are “paying into a system that people abuse so they don’t have to work,” there is no longer a straight line between the substance of the policy and the core values of the policy.
At some point in history, public perception of basic Christian values became a liberal ideal. The thought of everyone chipping in to help heal the sick, provide for the poor, assist the needy, strengthen the meek, honor all with dignity, and loving thy neighbor as thyself, became antithetical to the Christian way of life despite being totally aligned with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
How did this happen? It happened because, like those they condemn, Christians are sinners and are just as capable of putting their own needs above the needs of others as any bleeding heart democrat. It happened because Christians allowed the republican party to brand any type of progress as anti-Christian despite the fact that Jesus was pretty liberal with the types of people he loved, respected, helped, cared for, and cured.
It also happened because the republican party made Christians fundamentally afraid of the sins of others. The sin of gay marriage, the sin of abortion, the sin of Islam. The idea that these are all righteous fights in the eyes of the Lord prevailed over the ideals of true Christian teachings.
You can be pro-life and pro-choice, most pro-choice people are. You can be pro-Islam and anti-terrorism, most pro-Islam people are. You can be for gay equality without engaging in homosexual activities, most straight LGBT supporters do.
The fact is, how you treat these people is between you and God. If you give a homeless man money, you are doing good in the eyes of the Lord. If he spends the money on drugs, he is doing bad in the eyes of the Lord. Sin does not adhere to the transitive property. If you offered a Muslim your umbrella right before they blew up a building, you did not blow up that building. If you baked a cake for two gay men, you did not get “gay married” and if you believe that a woman should be able to make a choice based on her belief of when life actually begins and her own religious convictions, you did not kill a baby.
At the end of the day, Christians should be abhorred by much of what the republican party does in the name of Christian values. Too many have been fooled into following a false narrative of self-righteousness. Does that mean the democrats are the better alternative for Christians? No, not really. As a matter of principle, neither party truly serves a 100% Christian platform but, as a government, they really shouldn’t.
It is time to break the chain of voting for republicans out of Christian duty. If you voted for Trump based on Christian values, do you think you’re getting your prayers worth? It is time to begin voting for men and women who best represent the majority of your ideals. Stop voting solely on one or two issues and look at the broad picture. Too many people voted for policies that have no effect on their own life in lieu of policies that have direct impact on their life simply because of a sense of religious duty.
Regardless of the side you vote for, vote for the person who supports the most of your beliefs as possible and if you’re Christian, vote for the person who models their life more on the teachings of Jesus. Vote for the men and woman with empathy, sympathy, courage, and intelligence. Vote for the men and women who will help the poor, serve the hungry, heal the sick, lift the meek, exalt the righteous, and honor the principles of Jesus.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.