Balancing Faith and Politics

Flag of the United States of America Look­ing over my recent blog entries — even going back half a year or so — I find myself a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ed. I’ve post­ed a good deal about polit­i­cal issues — and non-issues — and I can’t deny that I’ve had a lot of fun with those posts. Whether you’ve agreed with me or not, the con­ver­sa­tions have been enjoy­able, I’ve met some new peo­ple, and I’ve maybe even learned a lit­tle as well.

What dis­ap­points me, though, is that I look at those posts and find it hard to deter­mine what my moti­va­tion is. Why am I so opposed to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty? Why are lib­er­al or even out­right social­is­tic pol­i­tics evil?

There are a few lines I could draw in the sand, but they don’t get me any­where polit­i­cal­ly, lines that are drawn in rela­tion to mat­ters of clear­ly defined sin, such as abor­tion or homosexuality.

But what makes it so wrong for a gov­ern­ment to bail out com­pa­nies, if in doing so those com­pa­nies are saved from collapse?

What makes it so wrong for a gov­ern­ment to pro­vide uni­ver­sal health care to its citizens? 

“It’s uncon­sti­tu­tion­al!” I can hear some of you say; well, per­haps that’s true. A gov­ern­ment of, by, and for the peo­ple (by that def­i­n­i­tion) can­not be bound to a doc­u­ment, though; it must be mal­leable as the peo­ple are mal­leable, as sit­u­a­tions are malleable.

We Chris­tians get in quite a huff when we see the gov­ern­ment over­step­ping what we believe to be its con­sti­tu­tion­al bounds, yet at the same time we have lit­tered the land­scape with church­es that just bare­ly resem­ble what the Scrip­tures mod­el the church to be — seems as though we should be used to ignor­ing a doc­u­men­t’s plan in favor of some­thing a bit more situational.

Seri­ous­ly, is there any­thing inher­ent­ly wrong with social­ism (or monar­chy or what­ev­er)? I don’t think there is.

What I do think is that we — the red-blood­ed, Con­sti­tu­tion-thump­ing Repub­li­cans of the nation — have become spoiled (okay, you Democ­rats have too). Our dai­ly life has been so strong­ly tied to stuff — and not just nec­es­sary stuff, but prof­li­gate items such as gigan­tic tele­vi­sions, refrig­er­a­tors that can con­nect to the Inter­net, and vehi­cles with not one but two video play­ers for the kids.

All the while, there are home­less peo­ple through­out the nation. Mal­nu­tri­tion and scrap­ing togeth­er the bare essen­tials are not lim­it­ed to African slums. It’s hap­pen­ing every­day through­out Amer­i­ca. If a lit­tle bit of wealth redis­tri­b­u­tion is able to pro­vide a slight­ly nicer life for those fam­i­lies, what’s the harm?

Is your well-being so tied up in mon­ey that you are unable to part with it for the bet­ter­ment of anoth­er’s life? The Lord loves a cheer­ful giver.

Here’s the tricky part: Gov­ern­ment redis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth is a manda­to­ry thing. I can’t say “no” when the tax man cometh.

Nor should I have to. Jesus said all that was need­ed to be said about the issue when He said to ren­der unto Cae­sar that which is Cae­sar’s. And last I checked, every bit of my mon­ey — when it’s not in ethe­re­al form at my bank — has pic­tures of sundry Amer­i­can Cae­sars: Wash­ing­ton, Lin­coln, and so on.

If the gov­ern­ment wants to tax more, that is their pre­rog­a­tive; on the flip-side of that coin, it is our duty to pay the tax, and I believe that we should do so cheerfully.

Will the gov­ern­ment use all the mon­ey to help those in need? Or to help every­one get the med­ical atten­tion they need with­out hav­ing to choose between it and pay­ing the rent? Not nec­es­sar­i­ly, but this is Amer­i­ca, after all, and you can still vote, write let­ters, protest, and so on.

I guess all of this could be sum­ma­rized by say­ing that I don’t want to be a Repub­li­can or Con­sti­tu­tion­al­ist just for the sake of being one.

And let me be absolute­ly clear about this one thing: If every Chris­t­ian in Amer­i­ca was a cheer­ful giv­er to actu­al needs, there would be no home­less, there would be no hun­gry, and there would be no one strug­gling to pay their med­ical costs… And the nation would know that the love of Christ is in us and that we are not hypocrites.

Or we can let the down-and-out suf­fer. We can let the sick die because they can’t get that surgery they need. And we can let the home­less suf­fer the ele­ments. All for the sake of greed.

Chris­tians have dropped the ball in Amer­i­ca, and it’s final­ly got­ten to the point where men who haven’t a clue what the Bible actu­al­ly teach­es, are com­ing up behind us to pick up the ball and get it back on track.

At this point, I can’t help but won­der if we should­n’t sup­port them as we are able because at this point, it would lit­er­al­ly take the earth mov­ing to move enough Chris­tians into such an extreme amount of giv­ing to make a dent in the woes plagu­ing so many in America.

Note: April Fool’s Day has noth­ing to do with any­thing said in this post, just in case any­thing I said seemed “too good to be true” from what­ev­er per­spec­tive you are com­ing from. :-)






7 responses to “Balancing Faith and Politics”

  1. Claude Avatar

    I think you need to remem­ber why the con­sti­tu­tion is impor­tant. It’s not about mate­ri­al­ism, but unadul­ter­at­ed free­dom and nat­ur­al rights. I think you’ll love Mark Lev­in’s lat­est book.

    1. Rick Beckman Avatar

      The prob­lem is while we’ve spent so much time enjoy­ing our free­doms, lit­tle has actu­al­ly been done to use the free­doms; while we’ve been free to end pover­ty, elim­i­nate exor­bi­tant med­ical bills, and so on… we haven’t. Hun­dreds of years of Amer­i­can his­to­ry, and those things haven’t gone away. Per­haps the gov­ern­ment does need to step up.

      Just spec­u­la­tion on my part, I sup­pose, but some­thing’s got­ta be done… Either a lot out of a few’s pock­ets or a lit­tle out of every­one’s pock­ets to help pull the des­ti­tute out of the pit.

      1. Claude Avatar

        I think you’re con­fus­ing the role of gov­ern­ment with the role of a com­mu­ni­ty mem­ber towards his com­mu­ni­ty. Gov­ern­men­t’s role is to remove any bur­dens that pre­vent cit­i­zens from an equal oppor­tu­ni­ty at suc­cess, not to guar­an­tee equal outcome.

        Our role is to take advan­tage of those free­doms in order to carve a bet­ter future for our fam­i­lies, and yes, *vol­un­teer* some of it to those in need. Sad­ly, while some peo­ple fall on hard times oth­ers choose to wal­low in their mis­ery, expect­ing gov­ern­ment to solve all their problems.

        As an immi­grant to the U.S. I can tell you that there is no oth­er place on the face of the plan­et where an indi­vid­ual, through hard work and ded­i­ca­tion, can suc­ceed as much as it is pos­si­ble TODAY in Amer­i­ca. The dream is still alive, peo­ple need to real­ize it is theirs for the taking.

        1. Rick Beckman Avatar

          I did­n’t know you were an immi­grant! Very cool! Where you from, if you don’t mind my asking?

          I agree that main­tain­ing our free­doms is impor­tant; how­ev­er, I am con­fi­dent that Christ’s rem­nant will be able to live joy­ful­ly no mat­ter what hap­pens in Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment — the church made it through the Roman Empire, it can make it through what­ev­er Amer­i­ca throws at it.

          Like you, I do think that the pos­si­bil­i­ty of suc­cess still exists in Amer­i­ca, but what about those who have incurred thou­sands — or hun­dreds of thou­sands! — in med­ical bills for issues that are alto­geth­er out of their con­trol? That’d take quite a bit of suc­cess — prob­a­bly enough to push you into the top 10% wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans — to be able to take care of those bills with­out hav­ing to refi­nance a home, sell a car, or oth­er such things.

          Free health care did­n’t cost Cana­di­ans any fun­da­men­tal free­doms that I’m aware of; what’s stop­ping it from work­ing like­wise here?

          (And I know that Cana­da has since lost some free­doms… Church’s need to be care­ful what they preach lest they risk pun­ish­ment, and I thought I read some­thing about a par­ent being impris­oned or some­thing for spank­ing his own child. Ridicu­lous, if you ask me!)

          1. Claude Avatar

            I was born in Colom­bia, came to the U.S. when I was 16 years old and decid­ed to become a cit­i­zen sev­en years ago when I was 30. I felt a spe­cial affin­i­ty with Amer­i­ca since before I knew I was com­ing, but it took a few years to under­stand its found­ing principles.

            Cana­di­ans are taxed heav­i­ly and do have uni­ver­sal health care *cov­er­age*, but the qual­i­ty and speed of med­ical care is poor when com­pared to ours. Those who can afford to do so trav­el to the U.S. to see spe­cial­ists since they can’t wait for months to have sim­ple pro­ce­dures done. The same thing takes place in Britain.

            There are bet­ter options than out­right nation­al­iza­tion of health care. Employ­er-pro­vid­ed cov­er­age got its start after the great depres­sion as a gim­mick to attract and retain high­er qual­i­ty work­ers. It was lat­er adopt­ed as pub­lic pol­i­cy in the 1950s.

            The prob­lem with the sys­tem is that the insured has no idea how much it costs, can­not shop around for bet­ter priced / high­er qual­i­ty care nor nego­ti­ate the cost of pro­ce­dures need­ed by his fam­i­ly. Cor­po­ra­tions are hap­py to pay the ever increas­ing fees required by insur­ance com­pa­nies and take tax deduc­tions for them. Doc­tors are forced into price con­trol schemes that pre­vent them from com­pet­ing with oth­er ser­vice providers. Employ­ees are sleep at the wheel tak­ing what­ev­er the par­ties above decide is best for them.

            A solu­tion that reduces cost while increas­ing quail­i­ty of ser­vice can be had by doing a few things: (1) Cor­po­ra­tions are no longer able to pro­vide heath care cov­er­age for their employ­ees. (2) Employ­ees are allowed to pur­chase the cov­er­age they deem appro­pri­ate for their fam­i­lies from any insur­ance com­pa­ny. (3) Employ­ees receive the tax breaks that ben­e­fit cor­po­ra­tions today, off­set­ting the cost of their cov­er­age. Over time this will reduce costs because insur­ance com­pa­nies and doc­tors will price their ser­vices com­pet­i­tive­ly in order to attract indi­vid­ual policyholders.

            The key here is to let com­merce take place free of any gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion. Of course, the assump­tion here is that our rep­re­sen­ta­tives in con­gress do their jobs. As of right now they don’t appear to have our best inter­ests at heart.

  2. Sandi Avatar

    Wow, impres­sive post.

  3. Bart Avatar

    The key here is to let com­merce take place free of any gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion. Of course, the assump­tion here is that our rep­re­sen­ta­tives in con­gress do their jobs. As of right now they don’t appear to have our best inter­ests at heart.

    Agreed, Claude.

    And Rick, there is hope — In a con­ver­sa­tion with my 17 year old son Randy, he said (his words) “I find it intrigu­ing that peo­ple are divid­ed on issues along a par­ty line — some­one asked me if I am Demo­c­rat or Repub­li­can and I looked at them and asked them ‘On what issue?” Maybe there is hope in the next gen­er­a­tion if we can get them to think that way. We should be think­ing that way.

    Fun­da­men­tal­ly I have issues with those that look for a free hand­out with no effort at either repay­ing by pass­ing the favor to oth­ers, or try­ing to bet­ter themselves. 

    I have a huge issue with giv­ing $20 bil­lion dol­lars to BofA and then allow­ing them to raise my inter­est rate 5% with no regard for the fact that our tax dol­lars are bail­ing them out, it is a down econ­o­my and I have nev­er been late on a pay­ment to them. Yet they are rais­ing rates across the board.

    I do under­stand that there will always be those that can­not help them­selves. This is where church and fam­i­ly should step in.

    On a recent solo mis­sions trip to Petrokiv­ka, Ukraine, a small vil­lage 6 hours from Kiev, I saw this in action. As I was walk­ing down a lane in the vil­lage I noticed a babush­ka (grand­moth­er­ly matron) was unable to stand up from where she had been pulling weeds in her gar­den. She used her buck­et as a cane. The young girl that was with me and I helped the babush­ka up and to her door where she collapsed.

    Lat­er we brought the mat­ter to the vil­lage pas­tor’s wife’s atten­tion. She told us this “Here, the church will help, but first, it is the fam­i­lies duty to help. When her (the babushka’s) daugh­ter and son had exhaust­ed their resources and ask for help then the church will.”

    What I don’t see here, in the U.S., is the fam­i­ly help, and frankly, nei­ther do I see the church as will­ing to step in either. We seem to not only have a break­down of fam­i­ly, but church as well.

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Rick Beckman