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 thoughts on “Balancing Faith and Politics”

    1. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  1. 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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