A case for Republocrats and Demlicans

One of the unfortunate things about politics is the way political discussion, especially about social issues, tends to polarize the public arena making neither party a very good ally of the gospel. Truth rarely lines up completely on one side or the other of a political debate. If it does, it is only in one small area or for a brief time (even a broken clock is right twice a day.) We have all been caught at times wishing we had more choices than just Republican and Democrat. I have a feeling, were we to map a truer political allegiance from the Scriptures, we might find a Christian to be looking more like a Republocrat or a Demlican.

The current debate over the rights of gays and lesbians to marry is a good case in point. While on one hand, to a devoted Christian who lives under the authority of Scripture, this seems like a clear cut, black and white issue, it is not, at least in the social arena, because there is not one rule of law that governs everybody, or better said, that everybody acknowledges as the primary authority. In the public sector, the constitution would be closer to a governing rule than the Bible would. And, indeed, gays and lesbians have chosen the constitution as their rallying point based on the way it is dedicated to protecting the unalienable rights of its citizens. Gays and lesbians believe their right to be married is guaranteed by the same law of the land that gave women, blacks, workers and immigrants their rights, and these issues will be won or lost in court based on that law, not the Bible.

This is where it gets difficult for a Christian, who may believe based on the Scripture, that this is a moral issue, but also live in the public arena as one who supports the equal rights of all citizens. We live in a country that is not the Kingdom of God nor is everyone required to acknowledge the Bible as the primary authority in his or her life. A Christian in the public sector has to respect the way other people see things, and I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ compels all Christians to live this way anyway—in honor and respect for the those who believe differently than they do, including differently from what they believe the scripture teaches.

Unfortunately, the polarization of this issue has many people perceiving Christians as condemning gays and lesbians (based on the moral issue), and trampling on their rights as citizens (based on constitutional law). And this is why someone who loves God and loves his gay and lesbian neighbor and realizes that when it comes to sin, there is no difference between us—we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God—might want to try and come out of this discussion not entirely on one political side or the other. We are ultimately on the side of the truth and seeking to obey God and scripture as best as we know how. This is why even as Christians, we will not all line up the same way politically, and we need to respect each other’s attempts to live out this process as best we can.

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24 Responses to A case for Republocrats and Demlicans

  1. Heather says:

    Amen. May it be more important that we “connect” in love and caring than that we insist we know all the “right” answers.

  2. Becky says:

    I’m so thankful for your devotion. I’ve always wondered how a Christian knows another’s heart and their relationship with Christ. I think Galatians 5:14 says it all:

    The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.

    Whenever I receive “hate” mail of any kind from a Christian, it is deleted. If we promote hate, I think we are missing the whole point of loving our neighbor.

    As you pointed out, we are all sinners. I’ll take the sinners any day….

  3. “A Christian in the public sector has to respect the way other people see things, and I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ compels all Christians to live this way anyway—in honor and respect for the those who believe differently than they do, including differently from what they believe the scripture teaches.”

    I’ll never understand the need to go to extremes on one side or the other. It’s seems to me that the answers are often somewhere in the middle, sometimes leaning left, and sometimes leaning right. If those of us who are followers of Christ could remember to honor and respect those who believe differently, including differently from what the scripture teaches, then maybe those who believe differently would actually see Jesus in us.

    The scriptures are a love letter from God to those who believe in him, and not a weapon to hurl at those who don’t.

    Margaret

  4. Camille Pronovost says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with this, John. It’s about respect.

  5. Robert Wermuth says:

    ” . . . as citizens of the kingdom of God, Christians are to bring God’s standards of righteousness and justice to bear on the kingdoms of this world – what is sometimes called the cultural commission. Among other things, this means bringing transcendent moral values into public debate.

    The popular notion that ‘you can’t legislate morality’ is a myth. Morality is legislated every day from the vantage point of one value system being chosen over another. The question is not whether we will legislate morality, but whose morality gets legislated.”

    CHUCK COLSON (“Should Christians Go into Politics?” — Breakpoint)

    • I don’t think the question is whether or not you can legislate morality. Of course you can, and heaven knows, there are plenty of laws to prove that point – particularly those passed at the local and state level. But you can’t change behavior through legislation, and you can’t legislate people to Christ. If we’re relying on laws to achieve things that matter, we’re putting our faith in the wrong place.

    • Ed Woods says:

      When we as Christians debate and argue over the “-ism’s” in life, commun-ism, lesbian-ism, human-ism, etc., we forget that the person is not the same as the philosophy.

      Christ called on us to render to Caesar, yet Peter, James and Paul all said to obey God over man. God is not Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal – He is God, over all and in all. When voting, or standing on the street corner, or voicing our opinions to friends, shouldn’t we consider God’s point of view over our own preferences? Would God vote for abortion over life? Would He preach “God hates Fags” or would he embrace that person and tell them to sin no more?

      Malachi teaches that God does not desire sacrifice, but a repentant heart and attitude. When we stand for God, we will be challenged. Look at Christ and all the pain He went through. Can we do less? Christians are the most tolerant of all faiths, yet there are lines we will not pass. In these – His divinity, His resurrection, His being the only way to God – we will NOT compromise. Aphilosoper once wrote “there is a time when you are so tolerant of everything that you stand for nothing.” Let us get out of that pit.

  6. Lori Smith says:

    Whether the Bible that governs everybody is acknowledged by everyone or not should not deter us from speaking His truth. I can love those who believe and live differently than I do, but I do not believe I have to respect the actions or beliefs that are different “from what they believe scripture teaches”. His truth, His word is what we should all live by and what we all will be judge by – whether anyone wants to acknowledge it or not – and yes, we all fall short!

  7. Betty says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more on this point, John. You said: “I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ compels all Christians to live this way anyway-in honor and respect for the those who believe differently than they do, including differently from what they believe the scripture teaches.”
    It makes me think of the pastor in Florida who’s planning to burn the Koran in his church on Sunday! That kind of behaviour from Christians is unacceptable in my mind. God loves the Muslims as much as He loves the Christians. I wonder how that pastor would act if another religion decided to burn Bibles in their place of worship!
    Let’s all allow God’s love to flow through us whether or not we agree with the choices other people are making.

  8. Sue Reed Lynch says:

    Hi, John. I’ll be interested to see the comments on this one. It hits very close to home for me, as I’m the mother of a precious, talented, hard-working son who is gay. He’s not just gay, he’s something of an activist for gay rights (not hard to do in Austin, Texas). Austin has a saying, “Keep Austin Weird.” I tell people I’m doing my part by having a son there. Anyway, the issues are really tough! Because of my relationship with my son, I have a little insight to “their” side of things. It’s amazing how my “acceptance level” has changed in the last 10 years. I remember a friend saying, many years ago that we just need to be more tolerant. I was pretty radical in saying, “I DON’T HAVE TO BE TOLERANT! IT’S JUST WRONG!!” Wow, have I ever grown up since then. It’s still “wrong,” but who am I to cast stones? A big fat sinner, that’s who I am. Here’s the difference I see between me and “them,” and this is of great concern to me. I am a sinner who has chosen to ask Jesus to forgive all my sins, and I have repented of my sins, and try to avoid sin whenever possible. If homosexuality is a sin, and it’s a chosen way of life, is there forgiveness? Can they go to heaven? Do I want to be the judge of that? NOOO!! I also have gay women in my Sunday School class (I’m the teacher). They’ve been some of my most faithful class members. They love the Lord the same way I do. Yes, I’m in the middle of it, and I have learned that the better thing to do than be tolerant is to love them with the Love of Jesus. I didn’t mean to write a book, but this is a subject near to my heart. You may be surprised to hear that when I visited a psychologist to help me along with some of this, he gave me an article by a Catholic priest that says homosexuality is not a sin if there is no “sexual” intercourse, the same as heterosexuality. It just gets deeper and deeper, huh. I appreciate you and the Catch, and I’m trying to decide if I should be a Republicrat or a Demlican!!

  9. Gina says:

    Your argument stands a chance only if the only reasons to oppose same-sex marriage are explicitly Christian ones. But that isn’t the case.

    For one thing, check out the study recently mentioned in the NYT, showing the much higher rates of infidelity among same-sex couples. Allowing those couples to marry would cause the adultery rate to skyrocket and help to normalize it.

    And that’s only one reason.

  10. Tom - CT says:

    John, you are usually very thought provoking. Most days, I find myself searching new angles after reading your daily devotionals. You have taught me to be very open minded as a Chrisitan. However, I found your devotional today to be wishy wash and vague (and not in a good way). Sometimes I believe that you do need to takes sides. I do love all people, as the Lord has humbled me to the point of realizing that my sins are just as bad as everyone elses. That being said, it does not mean that we condone bad behavior. So I guess that I missed the point of your devotional today. Maybe you can elaborate.

  11. Drew Snider says:

    The problem I have with this particular debate is kind of fundamental: who says marriage is a “right”? And why is it so important for same-sex couples to solemnize their relationship by calling it a “marriage”? This has nothing to do with whether or not I love someone or hate them, but I question the rush to declare marriage a human “right”, alongside voting, freedom from persecution or sitting at a lunch counter.

    But the really important question is, are we, as Christians, promoting the Glorious Alternative to alternative lifestyles? Are we loving people, regardless of whether they believe in Jesus or not? Are our own marriages shining examples of a Godly, male-female relationship, or do they leave themselves open to the old canard, “well, some gay relationships are stronger than a lot of ‘straight’ marriages!”?

    Are we Light, or are we settling for a lighter shade of darkness? Jesus warned us, “be careful lest the light in you be darkness.” (Luke 11:35). By our lives, our deeds and our love, we have to promote the light of Christ, which is so brilliant and so glorious that darkness doesn’t have a chance. And you don’t do that by demonstrating hatred.

  12. Charlie says:

    John, you are absolutely right, and I thank you for writing on this topic. I enjoyed your saying, “[w]e live in a country that is not the Kingdom of God nor is everyone required to acknowledge the Bible as the primary authority in his or her life”. When I see what has been done in the name of Jesus to express hatred for others who don’t agree with our faith, it makes me shudder. I am sure of the scripture instructing me to judge not, and warning me that I will be judged with the same level of mercy I judge others. If Jesus loved us just as we are, we cannot hold others to a higher standard to receive our love.

    The individual responding above me quoted Chuck Colson,. I found a significant part of the quote to be, “Among other things, this [cultural commission] means bringing transcendent moral values into public debate. Yes, into public –debate–, not public demand and dictatorship. If we bring the guidance of the scriptures to public debate and the listeners chose a different path, we do not have justification to treat them with anything but continued respect and caring as we follow Jesus’ command to love God as our father and love our neighbor as ourselves.

    Thanks, John!

    -Charlie

  13. Teresa Stephens says:

    John, you write “This is where it gets difficult for a Christian, who may believe based on the Scripture, that this is a moral issue, but also live in the public arena as one who supports the equal rights of all citizens.” You continue by saying that we should respect the differing opinions of each other. But John, there is a great deal in scripture that supports slavery, endorses that women are not only not equal to men but are much less than men, and supports polygamy. Although I believe in non-violence, compassion, and respect for others there are times when scripture is misused and misinterpreted to keep other people in bondage and Christians should speak out and even fight for those people as many people fought and even gave their lives for the rights of women, children, slaves, etc…. We cannot and should not just count on the Constitution to do the work for us. What about the rights of gay people to be ordained and fully participate in the life of the church. When you say “we are all sinners” in discussing this topic, one can assume that you consider sexual orientations other than heterosexual to be “sinful.” I for one never chose to be heterosexual but I am. I know too many people who have tried not to be homosexual even though they have truly felt that way as long as they can remember. They tried not to be who they were born to be because religious people condemned them. This issue can only be decided along the lines of whether you believe a person has a choice in their sexual orientation. As soon as you realize that a person can be born homosexual, then you begin to realize that they are not “sinful” or deserving of fewer rights than than anyone else – in the social and religious arenas. Heterosexuals, women, blacks, etc… who have been championed by others before them must stand up for gay people now and demand the equality that they themselves have won through much suffering and sacrifice. Our religion has always shaped and influenced our politics. Compassion for others sometimes means we must “disrespect” the opinions of other Christians in order to stand fast and move forward in achieving basic human rights for others. Never forget that good, God-fearing Christians, “living under the authority of scripture” believed that God was on their side in the institution of slavery.

    For the record I am not registered as a Democrat or Republican – I maintain the status of an Independent and take my responsibility to vote very seriously. I have simply seen too many lives and spirits broken in struggles over sexual orientation and most of these struggles stemmed from the opinions of Christians forced upon gay people in our society. Too many mothers can tell you that they had a feeling almost from birth that a particular child of theirs was “different,” and too many gay people can tell you how often they have considered suicide over their own internal conflict to try to conform to societal and religious expectations and norms. Each of these people are worth fighting for, each one a child of God, each one holy and precious – just the way they are.

  14. Katie says:

    John, your reasonable and Biblical perspective on such issues are such an inspiration. I wonder if you’ve heard about the Dove World Outreach Center and their “Burn the Koran” day that they are promoting on 9/11, trying to get Christians to burn as many Korans as possible that day. We have a small group at church who has been ministering to a Muslim sister for several years and while she has not chosen to leave the Muslim faith and believe in Christ, she HAS been overwhelmed and baffled by our open arms, open hearts and listening ears. We have loved her, shared joys and sorrows, prayed for her, and she has come and felt like family on a regular basis with a house full of Christians. We have had opportunities to show her the Bible and share some key differences between faith in Christ and her faith, but only after we spent many, many hours listening, respecting, and loving. This so-called “church” cannot possibly be reading about the same Jesus that I know and love, because I just can’t believe that my Jesus would ever embrace burning the holy book of others as an effective means of outreach. I am really sickened and saddened by this horrible plot. Would you be willing to share your take on it in the next few days? The website for this “outreach center” is http://www.doveworld.org/ – top center link is more details on the official “burn the Koran” day. What on earth do Christians like us DO with the warped and disgusting acts, and following effects, of Christians like that? It’s no wonder so many people want nothing to do with us.

  15. Nancy says:

    THANK YOU! And THANK YOU again for reflecting on the issue of Christ Followers and politics. Finally, someone speaks out against the popular attitudes of the day that fuel the extremists (Right AND Left) that seem to be ruling the electorate these days. It is alarming & disturbing how many Christians are joining in the venomous, hateful rhetoric of both parties — and it doing so bear no resemblance the the Christ who they serve or are supposed to be respresenting. They willingly (even enthusiastically) join in many accusations against our leaders that have been proven false, and yet the Fearmongers continue to spread the lies. (Think people: who is the father of lies?? And has the most to gain by our giving into & embracing that Fear??) We are to be Children of the Light — the Light in the Darkness, sharing the hope and healing that only Christ can bring to a world that is lost. Perfect love casts out all fear.

  16. Franc says:

    Well said John (minus a few typos). We all need to learn to “live in the world but not of the world”. The more we try to let governments legislate our morality instead of living morally by free choice, the more we give over control and freedom that God already gave us! I might not like the choices my GLBT friends make, but I will defend their right to make that choice. As Christians we need to be witness to Gods righteousness but understanding and compassionate to those who decide to make “other” (maybe wrong) choices.

  17. Tim Morris says:

    I’m not sure what Robert is saying but I assume he is somewhat opposed to the thought of the day.
    As A Christian I believe it is immoral to rob others of their right to live a life with the person they love in the same way my wife and I get to express our love and relationship. Not to mention the rights denied to same sex relationships that are not allowed to enter into this contract with the state.
    It is also not true that all Christians view the scripture in the same way so now we have to fight whose scriptural view we are going to accept.
    When Christianity tied it’s self to the moral majority and became a political machine we lost the love of Christ and created animosity where we didn’t need it.

  18. Jeannette says:

    I really liked this catch! It’s the best insight on this subject I have read. My husband and I have gay and lesbian friends. Even though we don’t agree with their lifestyles, we would never condemn them. We try to be the same example of Christ before them that we are to everyone.

  19. Bob Hofferber says:

    ” . . . as citizens of the kingdom of God, Christians are to bring God’s standards of righteousness and justice to bear on the kingdoms of this world – what is sometimes called the cultural commission.”

    While I agree to a point, it seems that too often the focus is placed on “righteousness” (Actually “not sinning”, with a focus on abortion and “anything folks do in their bedrooms that I don’t like) and dismisses justice as “the liberal agenda”
    Personally, I have enough trouble dealing with my own sins and “working out my salvation with fear and trembling” to worry much about other folks sins.

  20. Mitch Parks says:

    Just a comment on the ‘Republocrats and Demlicans’. It almost sounded as though we should accept this because we’re taught to love one another. While I do believe that we should love the homosexual (sinner) we should still hate homosexuality (sin). A believer in Christ is supposed to turn from their sin (repent) and strive to live a life free of the bondage of sin. A homosexual who becomes a follower of Christ must turn from sin. Our God hasn’t changed His stance on marriage being the union of one man and one woman. If we get to the point of accepting homosexuality and same sex marriage, then the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was all for naught. Our mission is to speak the truth in love and that mission is that Christ died for all and wants all to come to that saving knowledge and that we must repent and turn from that sin – and homosexuality is a sin.

    • Tim says:

      Not all Christians consider same sex relationships sin. Episcopalian’s have openly gay bishops and there is the denomination Metropolitan Community Church http://ufmcc.com/
      Many United Church of Christ churches are affirming and while Methodists play the middle of the road you can find many Methodist churches that have a rainbow on the ushers name tag.
      Not all Christians are conservative
      John’s point wasn’t to agree but to respect.
      God doesn’t call us to love the sinner and hate the sin but to love without condition and hate our own sin.
      When most Christians ask if you believe they don’t really mean do you believe but rather, do you believe like me.
      And sorry but some churches interpretation of scripture is not a good enough reason to treat others as second class citizens.

      None of us are free
      None of us are free if one of us is chained
      None of us are free ~ Solomon Burke

  21. Drew Snider says:

    Tim makes some excellent points, except that he — and I think a lot of us — are missing something: there is Scripture up the ying-yang — Old Testament and New — indicating in no uncertain terms that homosexual practice is a sin. He’s right in that we need to beware of our own sin and not condemn others; but since the wages of sin is death, we can’t profess to love someone and turn a blind eye to the fact that they’re in danger of that death. Thing is, what do we do about it? I live in Vancouver’s West End, which is the seat of the gay culture in Canada. (a) I can’t afford to hate anyone or I’d be a mega-pariah (and lose a lot of friends), but (b) how would it serve the Kingdom if I simply screamed into the door of The Fountainhead Pub, “you guys are going to hell!”? They’ve heard that a million times! Remember that Jesus told people, “go — and sin no more”. But they had to come to Him first, and they came to Him not because He screamed more effectively than anyone else that they were going to hell but because He showed them a brighter more glorious Way to go than anything the world could give. Rick Joyner nails it in his book, “There Were Two Trees In The Garden”: we are called to focus on Love and Grace, not on Sin. Focusing on sin turns us inward; focusing on grace turns us towards God. As we do that, our Light shines so brightly that people can see God through us. And isn’t that what our walk with Christ is about?

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