Thursday, June 02, 2005

Another religious/political unholy alliance

This article describes yet another example of faith crossing the line into politics and vice-versa. Pastors are supposed to shepherd their flocks spiritually, not place voter-guides in the pews. The Rev. Dr. John Lentz agrees.

This is not America's mission. This is frightening, diabolical stuff for non-Christians and Christians alike. It is blasphemous to claim that any earthly kingdom is God's kingdom. The theological foundations of this movement are vacuous. They are set on the sands of opportunism, self-righteousness and greed.

It is time for the citizens of Ohio to wake up. This group and those like it will stop at nothing in making America a theocracy shaped by one very limited interpretation of scripture.

Now I suppose an "amen" to this from someone who regularly combines the political and the spiritual in her blog might seem a bit hypocritical. Here's the difference as I see it. My faith informs my politics, yes. However, I recognize they are not the same thing and that not everyone who shares my faith must necessarily share my politics, nor everyone who shares my politics must necessarily share my faith. They are enmeshed in me because they make me who I am. I do not, however, use a position of authority, like a pastor, to "preach" politics as if faith in God can only have one specific political outcome. This is an abuse of the pulpit.

Similarly, when politics and laws are used to dictate faith, it is an abuse of the legal system. The "litmus test" I use when putting my faith into my politics is, does this political course allow for the fairest outcome if I should happen to be wrong?" Take my stance on gay rights. If I happen to be wrong and same-sex relationships are horrendously sinful, what harm have we done by allowing them civil rights? None. On the contrary, I believe people are more willing to listen and change their hearts and their behavior when they aren't being persecuted and discriminated against. Jesus first saved the adulterous woman from being stoned and when and only when she was alone and safe, did he then tell her to go and sin no more. We are better able to follow this course of action if we stop trying to force change on others through the legal system.

On the other hand, suppose I'm right about same-sex relationships not being inherently sinful. Then the laws against them are doing great harm. My position, I believe, allows for the fact that I might be wrong. The opposing position does not. That's why I cannot support it. No one should ever assume they know God's heart so well they cannot possibly be wrong, but that's what the ultra-right does all the time. There were people like that in Biblical times, too. They were called Pharisees and they were not the Good Guys.

Christians are called upon to use their faith to inform their politics and to speak up and take a stand for what they believe. They are not called upon to claim to be THE voice of God. Rev. Lentz is right. Therein lies the way of blasphemy.


At 12:00 PM, Blogger the-unintentional-blogger said...

I do not, however, use a position of authority, like a pastor, to "preach" politics as if faith in God can only have one specific political outcome.

Nothing in the article suggested this. The pastors are not requested to talk about politics from the pulpit. And so what if they get "briefed" on specific political agendas? They are not lemmings and are not bound to agree with everything that this organization believes.

And I don't have a problem with voter guides, as long as they inform a person what particular senators have voted for and against. My church offers them and I find them very useful. The ones I have seen do not promote one canidate above the other. They just present voting records on various issues. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Now, there are other reasons I don't like this "Ohio Restoration Project". I don't like pastors submitting names of their congregation. That seems to me to be an invasion of my privacy. Also, the "Patriot Pastors" thing is a bit offensive (although I think it's more laughable). The implication being your not patriotic if you don't join there group. And I don't like the "America's mission" thing about it being the country's mission to bring Christ to the world. That should be a Christians mission, but not our country's.

We are better able to follow this course of action if we stop trying to force change on others through the legal system.

This quote is very interesting to me because this is EXACTLY what proponents of gay marriage are trying to do; force change on others through the legal system. Some might say that allowing homosexual's to marry does not effect others, but it does. It fundamentally changes the definition of marriage and that has ramifications to our society. And it's interesting that people on the extreme left threw a hissy-fit with congress contemplating changing the "age-old" tradition of the fillabuster, but yet many don't even bat an eyelash about changing one of the fundamental institutions of our society.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

This quote is very interesting to me because this is EXACTLY what proponents of gay marriage are trying to do; force change on others through the legal system.

That's untrue for three reasons.

1. It would be allowing others to live their lives, not forcing you to change yours. Changing a societal definition isn't even in the same universe as telling you what you can and cannot do in your personal life. Right now, the laws force people into bad situations where they don't have choices. The laws are already unfair, just like it was unfair when there were laws against interracial marriage. Making it legal changed marriage, yes, but it didn't force anything on anyone other than acceptance that others choose to live their lives differently. Please name one thing that this would FORCE on you other than acceptance that some people define sin differently than you. Give me one single concrete example of how a gay couple being allowed to marry harms you, anything at all, let alone anything that even comes close to denying people hospital visitation or rights of survivorship or any of the 1000+ other rights married people have. I have yet to hear ONE concrete bad thing that will result from changing the definition of marriage--not one single thing--but I have heard many MANY horror stories that have happened to real people All. The. Time. because the law won't recognize their covenant relationships. I couldn't care less how long marriage has been defined a certain way. Slavery has been around much longer than the definition of marriage as "only one man and one woman." Doesn't make slavery good. Polygamy was Biblical. Doesn't make polygamy good. Biblical adultery was defined by the marriage status of the woman, not the man. Surely you wouldn't argue that we shouldn't change that definition and that a man can sleep around and it isn't really adultery. When an institution is definied in a fundamentally unfair way that causes people harm then you'd better believe I think it should be changed.

2. The definition of marriage has always been in flux. ALWAYS. Marriage has been in a state of flux since forever. What we have now as the civil institute of marriage does not resemble Biblical marriages. Even today marriage isn't the same in all cultures. In many cases men are allowed multiple wives and sometime other women as unofficial sexual partners. Sometimes religions even specify rules of responsibility for situations where men are instructed to take an additional wife. And let's not forget the Levirite marriage, where a man is required to marry his brother's widow if his brother dies childless, thereby producing an heir for the dead brother. If all that matters is that we follow the old traditions, why don't we follow that one?

There are all sorts of things about marriage throughout the ages that don't even come close to resembling today's concept of marriage. It's just a flat out factual error to say that marriage has always been one thing because it hasn't.

3. The amendment issue that will be up for vote in AZ in 2006 will change laws, not maintain or "protect" status-quo. There already are domestic partnership laws or benefits on the books in 3 cities and one county in Arizona. All of these would be VOIDED by the proposed constitutional amendment. There would also be possible implications for domestic violence laws (see what's happening in Ohio). So yes, opponents of marriage rights for same sex partners ARE forcing legal changes, not merely maintaining the status-quo.


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