Perhaps it’s because I haven’t slept well the past week or maybe it’s partly side effects from a recent spider bite, but I have been very teary and upset today. I am so distracted by the division I have witnessed surrounding the election. I am not crying over the results and the state of our country; I am strongly feeling and a bit traumatized by the signs of the state of the American Church that I love and in which I was raised.
I haven’t shared publicly yet that I decided to vote for Barack Obama. I hope this doesn’t lead to breaks in friendship or the end of your support. These are real fears of mine as I consider the most passionate half of my facebook home page. I don’t know how to articulate my reasons for voting for him and don’t feel that I need to defend myself comprehensively. I will say that I am a witness to positive changes in the daily lives of people I know and love. I have looked into the eyes of people who are not democrat or republican but are Jesus lovers and community lights, for the first time, have been offered a nod and a dream from the commander and chief of this country. I have experienced first and second hand the corruption and injustice that is active amongst the broken healthcare system and partially due to private insurance companies. I do not underestimate the darkness of greed. My heart has been broken for and warmed towards the orphan, widow, sojourner, and poor and from my experience, their stories and the attitude of Jesus have not given me permission for emotional distance, judgment, and accusation. I do not align with a political party. I do research issues and I do think that the local church should be the primary agent of transformation, charity, and mercy in the world. But I don’t know how to vote apart from these desires and values. I am a lifelong learner of how faith and politics rightly interact.
My heart is breaking because I want so much to see reconciliation, compassion and understanding in the Christian community in times like these. I want to experience and stimulate those things myself and yet I sense a real hardness in the hearts of many and I am sorely lacking in the knowledge, mediation skills, and oratory prowess that would maybe help me find footing in this arena. I am the first to admit this. I am also readily acknowledging that the guy I voted for won; I am not in the same boat as the Christians I am reading on facebook who are truly grieving and angry about Romney’s loss. I feel compassion for your disappointment and my hope in writing all of this is that some of you, especially loyal Republicans, will trust my good intentions and interact with me so I that I can understand where you are coming from.
I have questions. They aren’t especially well-crafted and they are shared in a spirit of true friendship and good will. They will certainly betray much about my positions and limited knowledge and life experience. I am being sincere and am not interested in debating. These questions are the ones behind my tears and prayers today and sharing them is a feeble attempt to share of myself in order to gain those things I mentioned before–reconciliation, compassion and understanding. I am not aiming for agreement. I am not sharing big theology or why questions but ones I thought practical and forthright. Maybe something will resonate with you and someone will humor me and small steps of ecumenism and harmony can be achieved in this small space. Please feel free to speak candidly, to add questions, e-mail or speak with me in person.
Here are some of my questions.
1. What is uniquely Christian and biblical about the Republican perspective? (I am not a Democrat, but I am also not a Republican.)
2. When it comes to the topic of government being too active and too big, specifically in the arenas of immigration and healthcare, who has the power to change or effect national problems? What should the Church do to change these things at the macro level?
3. I have absorbed the impression from Christian Republican voters that homosexual marriage is one area where the government is expected to resemble and legislate their biblical values. Are there reasons why biblical values of jubilee, amnesty, hospitality, aid, forgiveness and others are not areas in which the government should play a role? I know this sounds loaded. I am truly confused about this whole conversation and welcome any two cents worth of sincere, good-will-inspired opinion.
4. What responsibility, if any, do privileged people have to help those who did not have safe or working public schools, a mortgage, a car, a space for a garden, etc. and what extent should the government instill that in its people in order to be a government for all of its people?
5. Do you think abortion is an isolated issue or closely connected with other aspects of our fallen society? If so, which ones and what should be done about those?
6. What proportion of our government spending should be on the military and defense? Is there a sense that a certain proportion tips the scales to safe and unapproachable in the world community? How do increased defense spending, lower taxes and reduced overall deficit and spending go together?
I will pause there. I reiterate my love for my friends, whatever they voted, and my sincerity and learning posture. I was blessed by this song today:
from God Is With Us by Casting Crowns
I feel compelled to tell all who will listen
That peace on earth is not so out of reach
If we can find grace and mercy and forgiveness
He has come to save, He is all of these
Love is raining down on the world tonight
There’s a presence here I can tell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel
He’s a Savior we have been praying for
In our humble hearts He will dwell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel