A few weeks ago, a person dear to me suggested that I write about being a liberal and being a Christian. I thought it was a great idea, but I didn't know where to start, and because it's something important to me, (my faith and my political beliefs), I wanted to do it right. So I waited for the right moment.
Interestingly enough, the inspiration came over the past couple days. Before I share my story, I'd like to say something extremely important:
No political party, entity, or leaning has the exclusive rights to a specific religion. More specifically, the "Religious Right" or supposed "Moral Majority" does not even come close to representing all Christians. In many ways, I believe it operates in direct contradiction to what the Bible calls us to do. More on that later, right now... back to my anecdote:
The Liberal Friends
I had dinner last Sunday with 3 folks who I consider to be intelligent, educated, and strong Christians. I say this, not because they are my friends or because they own a Bible. I say it because each of them have produced what we call "good fruit." They are saved, and God's work in their lives is evident in what they say, how they treat others, and what they do. They're also ridiculously smart. Politically speaking, they are all also relatively liberal. They all voted for Obama, they support social welfare programs, and are pro choice. At dinner, we discussed whether the church had a role in sexual education, amongst other things. One of the folks there was a member of a church that has a non-profit arm who performs free HIV tests, and distributes condoms. This is obviously on the far left as far as churches are concerned, and the argument made was, "We need to meet people where they are, and be realistic about people's health." Personally, I'm not so convinced on the church's distribution of condoms, as to me, it almost implies that the church is sanctioning or supporting premarital sex. However, I do understand the church's goal in working to drastically reduce unplanned pregnancies, infections, and some possibly terminal illnesses.
The Conservative Friends
One night later, I went to Bible study and dinner with two friends, who I also consider intelligent Christians. They are both decidedly conservative and have wildly different views than the aforementioned folks on sexual education, abortion, social welfare, and many other hot topics. While I fall closer in line with the first group, I respect what they had to say as well. As far as sexual education is concerned, both believed that the church nor the public school, is the appropriate place to discuss "safe sex" options. I use quotation marks because we all know that the only "safe" option is abstinence. The reality, however, is that most do not choose the celibate route. One of the most baffling statements was, "It's fine to teach them that contraceptives like birth control and condoms exist, but not to teach them how to use it. You're basically telling them it's ok. "
My take on Sexual Education
Well, I (and the statistics) strongly disagree. While I'm conflicted about the church's role in providing condoms and detailed sex education for youth, I wholeheartedly believe it is a disservice and flagrant health risk for our schools NOT to teach our youth about preventive measures to avoid ill-timed pregnancies, diseases, infections and often deathly illnesses. Of course, I would prefer for everyone to wait until marriage to have sex. Abstinence should be taught as the foremost and ONLY 100% safe way to avoid bad consequences, however, that simply is not what the majority of people do. Would we have them learn old wives tales about these things? You've heard them: "If you have sex with a virgin, you can get rid of herpes.... If you do it standing up, you won't get HIV..." Parents and other important role models should provide sex education for their children, but as we all know... that doesn't always happen. If parents did what they were supposed to do, I wouldn't have a job at my non-profit, because my non-profit wouldn't need to exist! Do we send kids out into this rough, disease-laden world with no knowledge about how to protect their bodies, ignoring the skyrocketing rates of teen pregnancy and HPV infections?
Also, research shows that sexual education does not turn celibate teenagers who have chosen to wait into sex fiends. The urge to have sex is a natural inclination. You don't need a sexual education class to make people want to "do it." But you do need to have sex ed to ensure that youth are properly informed about how to make responsible decisions. Honestly, when I was in high school, my sex ed course, which was wrought with graphic photos of genital warts and pus filled sores, deterred me from sexual activity. Furthermore, learning how a man should wear a condom didn't make me want to try it out either. I cheekily reminded the conservatives, "You certainly don't want to have to go to work to buy groceries for an unplanned child because some woman or man didn't wear a condom properly, right?"
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
The heated debate about sexual education among Christians is just one example of how Christian liberal and conservatives can see the same issue in completely different ways. To most liberal Christians, self included, the Bible provides more than sufficient evidence that we are called to do many of the things that Democrats support. For example:
SOCIAL WELFARE (Universal healthcare, medicaid, benefits for children, unemployed, disabled, etc)
Matthew 25: 454"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
Mark 12: 3129"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.e]">[e] 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'f]">[f] 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'g]">[g]There is no commandment greater than these."John 13:34-35:"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
1 Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.Matthew 5:42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Genesis 1: This outlines God's creation of the world. God created the world and everything in it, and gave man stewardship over it, not to ruin it.Psalms 104: 25-30: There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
Christianity is a free will religion. A true Christian is one by their own self-declaration, and not by force.
Matthew 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
This is a CHOICE. If you would like to follow Him, you may. If you don't want to, that is your choice. This fuels my belief in the separation of church and state. Regardless of how my faith guides my life, I can't hold a non Bible believing person to my Biblical standard. If a Muslim expected me to do something because it was in the Qu'ran, I'd struggle not to laugh in their face. You can't make me stop eating pork chops!!!!!!
And this is why I don't support sanctioning prayer in schools (although any should be allowed to if they so choose), posting the commandments in public buildings, and I'm pro choice. Furthermore, this is a violation of the Golden Rule found in Luke 6: 31: "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." This doesn't say, "Do what others do to you" or "Do for them what you think is the 'Christian' way, it says, "Do for others what you want them to do for you." So why do conservative Christians (and they're not truly conservative, because a true conservative supports small government"), often try to force their beliefs on others through laws? I know they don't want others to force their beliefs on them!
So, to all my fellow liberal Christians, you are not alone! Have an interesting story, Bible verse to share, or interesting anecdote about a clash with your local Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck? Please share!
To the conservative/Republican Christians, if you'd like to shed some light, I welcome that too. Right now, I'm a little confused about your ways. (Ie. Being prolife and protecting the unborn, but supporting capital punishment, a human who's already here with us).
To the non-believers, I'd love to hear your take as well.