The Christian Left – Part 4

I believe we need to live in this world, and as much as we can, to live in peace with everyone. In the Old Testament, Israel fought wars at God’s direction, but when Jesus came, the New Testament, the new covenant, came with him, and Jesus taught us a different way, the way of peace. Part of the reason is that when Jesus came, he brought the kingdom of God with him so to speak. The kingdom of God is not of this world, and the philosophies of the kingdom of God are far different than the philosophies of this world. Jesus came to save us from the world and it’s philosophies and to reconcile us to God and make us part of the kingdom of God. We discussed some of the ideas of the kingdom of God in the last post, but here is what Jesus himself preached:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3-10.

The way that I see it is that when Jesus came to earth, he established a new religion. Instead of Judaism which had been the way to be right with God until then, Jesus changed everything and instituted Christianity. There was no more need for Judaism anymore because Jesus had come to permanently bridge the gap between God and man, and Jesus’ blood rather than the blood of animals, was now what reconciled people to God. When Jesus came to earth, many things changed, and he brought the kingdom of God with him. Alisa Harris says beautifully what I am trying to portray:

“I had always heard that the Pharisees missed Jesus because they were searching not for a suffering servant but for a warrior king who would come with armies to overthrow their political enemies. How absurd, I always thought, never seeing that I, too, had searched my whole life for an earthly messiah who would overthrow my own political enemies, the one God would use to lead His chosen people in his chosen nation back to him.

I was done chasing supermen. I had stopped believing in the perfect leader who could say ‘let there be justice’ and by the force of his word change the whole earth into heaven. Instead I determined to grab hold of the truth I’d always known – that the leader had already come, had chosen instead to say; ‘my kingdom is not of this world,’ and had been despised and rejected because his message was bigger than the first century political pundits had predicted. When Jesus said to go the extra mile and turn the other cheek, he called us to subvert tyranny with love and redeem injustice with suffering. He didn’t say that tyranny and injustice would cease immediately, be he promised that the time would come when the meek, the poor, and the merciful would inherit the earth.” Alisa Harris, “Raised Right”, pg. 74-75.

Jesus’ message was bigger than the first century political pundits knew, and Jesus’ message is bigger than modern politics. I believe that I ought to make political decisions based on my faith, but I need to be careful that my political positions do not determine my faith, they are a manifestation of it, only one manifestation of it, and there are so many other ways to show my faith without making politics to be the most important. There are others that are more important, like worshipping God, and worshipping God is not the same as having the right political beliefs. Both show my faith, I just need to be careful not to elevate politics to a higher position than they deserve. There are many other legitimate ways to express faith, and I need to make sure I am expressing my faith in a variety of ways. I need to make sure that my faith gets its meaning from Jesus, not from politics. Alisa Smith again says it beautifully:

“For nearly all my childhood and adolescence, on into early adulthood, politics gave my faith meaning. Politics expressed my faith. Politics was a way of fighting for ‘a future and a hope,’ my way of proving I believed what Jesus said: ‘Take heart! I have overcome the world.’ A surge of political fervor marked my soul’s revival, and the vision of a godly America was my promised land. My faith was so intertwined with conservative politics that I viewed them as one and the same. In my ironclad worldview, faith and politics were inseparable.

So when I ventured out into the complicated world and found it shaking my confidence in the goodness of culture-war politics, my faith shook too. With the conservative political accoutrements of my evangelical Christianity stripped away, little of my faith remained.” Alisa Harris, “Raised Right”, pg 5-6.

I want to unpack what Alisa is saying here because parts of her journey were similar to mine. I went from a soldier in the culture-wars to being disillusioned with the culture-wars, and that disillusionment almost ruined my faith altogether. The injuries I sustained from fighting in the culture wars were almost lethal. But the thing is that Jesus heals. He’s the Great Physician, and with his gentle care to my wounds, my faith survived.

When I stopped fighting the culture wars, stopped living to prove about what I was against, I started figuring out what I was for. Instead of being self-righteous and telling the world that I was against abortion, gay marriage, birth control, illegal immigrants, and environmentalists, I started to be for life, love, peace, feminism, helping the less fortunate and taking care of the earth God has given us. Instead of passionately arguing the things I was against, I started to live the things that I was for.

Reference:

Harris, A 2011, Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith From Politics, Water Brook Press, Colorado Springs. 
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The Christian Left – Part 2

This is a re-post from the old blog since I plan to continue the series on here. 🙂

Most of the time, I actually identify as “moderate” with leftist leanings because I really don’t subscribe to the entire leftist agenda either, I just happen to currently agree with them on a lot more political issues than I agree with the right on.

I remember in the 2004 presidential election, I was living with American missionaries in a coastal Australian city. The missionaries had the TV on most of the day of the election, and were following it closely. We had talked about the moral decay of society and how it was God’s will for George W. Bush to be re-elected because he was a Christian and the Republican party was the Christian party. Over the coming years I learned about and engaged in the “culture wars” and by the time I moved to the USA I was staunchly Republican because I thought that all Christians were. I have in fact noticed that a lot in America, that people tie their chosen political party into their faith. And on one hand, I get it.

I totally get that our faith influences our political decisions (it’s why I choose to be a moderate that currently leans left), what I don’t understand is that people who trust in Jesus for their eternal destiny would suddenly not trust that he cares and knows about what is going on in the country and that he can handle it. If Jesus can save us from our sins, can’t he be working behind the scenes in America despite which political party is in power? It troubles me to see how devastated some Christians get when the right is not in power. It troubles me to see how ugly and disrespectful some conservative Christians can be to government they disagree with, it troubles me to see what extremes some conservative Christians will go to. After all, I thought Christians believed that God was ultimately in control, so why all the panic? A big part of me wonders if all the panic comes from maybe we say one thing and believe another? We claim to believe that God is in control but we really believe that man is in control.

I don’t believe, if Jesus was walking this earth today, that he’d be a conservative. I don’t really think he’d be completely liberal either, in fact, I doubt we could put him in a political box. From my understanding of Scripture and his teachings, though, I doubt there would be much about current conservative politics in America that Jesus would be happy with. But I totally understand that many people disagree with me. I am going to spend some time explaining the social issues and what I believe Jesus taught on those subjects. I’m not claiming to be right, I’m just giving a “justification” I suppose for why I believe what I do, because quite honestly, I feel misunderstood, and because of that, I have had many conservatives be downright rude and ugly to me about what I believe. I don’t want to be mean and ugly back so I am trying to present this in a cool, calm manner. I am not angry at conservatives, like I said in the first post, I’d wager a pretty good guess that most of my friends are political conservatives. It’s ok, I love them anyway. :p

I’m going to be exploring this topic with two books (as well as the Bible), the first one is “Red Letter Christians” by Tony Campolo, and the second is “Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith From Politics” by Alisa Harris. Both are very good books and I look forward to presenting some of their material here. I probably won’t post these posts every day, I will probably post about some other topics in between, but I do intend to keep posting them over the following weeks. 🙂

And remember, I don’t even vote because I’m not a US citizen yet. I’m just a woman with opinions. :p

Yes, I’m a Christian. No, I Didn’t Support Chick-Fil-A Today.

Today was Chick-Fil-A appreciation day, and today I boycotted Chick-Fil-A. It’s not a permanent boycott, I just purposely did not go there today, I went somewhere else instead. I don’t even eat fast food that often, but when I do, Chick-Fil-A is one of my top choices, just because I enjoy their chicken sandwiches. See, I don’t have a problem with freedom of speech, I truly believe Dan Cathy can say whatever he wants. What I have a problem with is religious posturing, pious religiosity, and using Christianity as a political ploy.

I still remember the uproar about JC Penney’s mother’s day ads, where the ads featured two women in a lesbian relationship. I remember how Christians came out in droves to boycott JC Penney’s. I remember when I worked at the Home Depot how many Christians berated me for doing so because Home Depot “supports the gays”. Not that these people are in any way consistent…they use computers, and both Windows and Apple “support the gays”.

Honestly, I’m tired of the culture wars, and I have to wonder why Christians would rather fight about stuff with the rest of the world rather than living in peace with everyone and show their love for God by living passionately for him. Sometimes I wonder if the posturing is a substitute for quietly living for God, because most of us would rather be noticed and get attention than we would just quietly live our beliefs. I’m talking to myself here, I’ve done a lot of religious posturing in the past…I wore only long skirts no shorts or pants, to prove how modest and therefore how incredibly spiritual I thought I was. It’s the attitude that bothers me.

I’m in a rather unique position on this whole fiasco with Chick-Fil-A. I do believe that homosexuality is wrong because I cannot see where the Bible says otherwise, as much as I wish I could. However, I don’t think that as Christians we should be trying to legislate our morality and force the government to make people live what we believe. Even God has more respect than that. God tells us what he wants us to do, but then he leaves it up to us about whether we do it or not. Can’t we have that much grace with others? Dan Cathy’s beliefs on homosexuality don’t bother me, they are beliefs that a lot of people that I know hold to. What bothers me is his funding of a hate group, one that wants to actually eradicate homosexuals, that I have a problem with.

I have one more thing to say…boycotting Chick-Fil-A is not “persecution” and I believe calling it such is an insult to those that are truly persecuted around the world. It’s not “bullying” either. I know many of the people that I know and love did buy food at Chick-Fil-A today, for their own reasons, and I support their reasons. I just could not in good conscience buy their food today. But tomorrow, if I’m out and I’m hungry, I might go there. Who knew that fried chicken could be so controversial? 

The Christian Left – Part 1

This is a re-post from the old blog since I plan to continue this series on here. 🙂

Today, I “liked” a page on Facebook called “The Christian Left” and shared two of its pictures on my own personal Facebook page. The very first comment I got was from a tea party conservative which simply said the “Christian” Left? insinuating that one could not be Christian and politically left. I know of good Christian people who are liberal and good Christian people who are conservative, and while I would never indicate that you can’t be Christian and liberal, or can’t be Christian and conservative, for me it is harder to imagine being conservative and being able to live by Christian values. However, it appears that many Christian conservatives don’t believe one can be both a Christian and liberal, so I thought I would write some posts on why I, as a Christian, choose to be a liberal rather than a conservative.

When I first moved to the USA, I was told that in this country, all Christians were republicans. If someone wasn’t a republican they weren’t a Christian. A while later I found out some were even more conservative than the republicans, and some of those people thought that the Christians who were republicans were “selling out” their convictions and instead should be constitutionalists or libertarians or tea partiers. I, in fact, helped my church at the time in 2008 campaign for Ron Paul, even though I wasn’t then nor am I yet a US citizen. Although I’m not a citizen yet, I plan to be one day. My husband and my four children are all citizens, and I live here, so yes I care very much about US politics. We even had a Ron Paul yard sign right next to our church yard sign (someone stole the Ron Paul one). Now, I want to put an Obama bumper sticker on my car except that it’s my husband’s car too and I don’t think he’d appreciate it, because he’s still fairly conservative. 🙂

Yesterday, I was glad to see the individual mandate of the health care bill upheld. I believe that health care is a basic human right, and I suppose that Jesus did too because he was always healing people. The reason I believe health care is a basic human right is because of how much Jesus cared about the sick. Honestly, I don’t understand what people are so upset about. Since I’ve moved here I have heard many complaints from conservatives that “they” have to pay for other people’s health care. Well, now that the individual mandate passed, individuals will have to pay for their own health care, or else their own tax dollars will go to paying for it. This means that the individual mandate is a good thing, because now people will be responsible to pay for their own health insurance. Of course, I don’t believe it will solve all the health care issues and ultimately I’d like to see the US adopt a socialized system like other first world countries have with great success.

Conservative politics to me seem very selfish and completely unChristlike, although I want to be careful when I say that to make sure that I DON’T say that all conservative Christians are unChristlike, because that is not true. I know many awesome, conservative Christians, in fact I believe that most of my friends are conservatives and they are amazing people. I’m not trying to tear down individuals; it’s the conservative political system that I have a problem with. The goal of these posts is simply to talk about how and why someone would be a Christian and be left, and I will do my best to keep to that issue rather than bashing conservatives. 🙂

50 Shades of Abusive Relationships…uhh…Grey

I’m trying to figure out what the attraction is with 50 Shades of Grey. As a Christian feminist who is passionate about equality for women, I am concerned about how many women love this book, and what messages this book is sending those women. From what I have read, the book started out as Twilight fan fiction, and from the sounds of it, is worse that Twilight. It appears as if popular culture is currently trending towards romanticizing abusive relationships, and that’s sad. 50 Shades of Grey is also a very poorly written manifesto on being in an abusive relationship.


And talking about abusive relationships, there’s a blog firestorm right now that I am entering late about a leader in the Christian patriarchy movement, Doug Wilson, who seems to think that men need to conquer women in bed. To me it sounds like he’s advocating abusive relationships also, but then again, in my opinion the entire patriarchy movement just does that. Here is a quote from Douglas Wilson’s book Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man:

“Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence.
When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.
But we cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. This is what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies. Men dream of being rapists, and women find themselves wistfully reading novels in which someone ravishes the “soon to be made willing” heroine. Those who deny they have any need for water at all will soon find themselves lusting after polluted water, but water nonetheless.
True authority and true submission are therefore an erotic necessity. When authority is honored according to the word of God it serves and protects — and gives enormous pleasure. When it is denied, the result is not “no authority,” but an authority which devours.”
Looking around online, I see that I’m not the only one disgusted by Doug Wilson’s words. First of all, I want to know why exactly sex can’t be “an egalitarian pleasuring party”. I think my husband and I could have a lot of fun with our own private egalitarian pleasuring party, not that any of it would be any of Doug Wilson’s business.

 At any rate, Wilson goes on to say that a man is to “penetrate, conquer, colonize and plant” and that a woman is to “receive, surrender, and accept”. See, that sounds like abuse to me. The words conquer and colonize are violent imagery. When my husband and I were in pre-marriage counselling, the pastor told my husband that he was to “ravage” me on our wedding night, and told me that I was to “submit”. So this violent rape imagery isn’t exclusive to Wilson, it seems to be exclusive to abusive men who use patriarchy to put a religious label on their abuse in order to try to make it ok.

I think that telling a woman to submit and surrender to violence is horrible. For far too long now, women have been blamed for their own rape, with the men who raped them claiming that they enjoyed it, or they were asking for it by what they were wearing, or that they shouldn’t have been in a particular location. For some reason, culture still tends to blame rape victims for what happened to them, and reading things like Wilson’s quote and 50 Shades of Grey just makes this kind of thinking worse, not better.

Wilson states that his writing is offensive to all egalitarians, and I can say that this is probably the only part where I agree with him. However, I would hope that his writing is offensive to more than just people who claim the egalitarian label. Women are not something to be conquered; we are a person to be loved.

I really think that Wilson’s views are dangerous, but so are the current portrayals of relationships in popular culture. We need to throw out Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey along with the likes of Doug Wilson, and stand up for ourselves and refuse to buy literature which exploits women and teaches them to remain in abusive relationships.

Reference:

Wilson, D 1999, Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man, Canon Press.