It’s a little over a week until the land of the free heads to the polls to decide who will lead the United States for the next four years. The world is looking on in bewilderment.
As an Australian woman with no religious upbringing who came to know Jesus in her forties I have been struggling with the disturbing reality that it was people who profess to love Jesus, the same Jesus that literally saved my life and restored my hope, that put this narcissistic, racist, bigoted man in the White House four years ago.
And those same people may just keep him there. Worse, they profess to do in the name of God, and in the name of freedom.
Does Christian equal conservative?
You don’t have to read far into the gospels to realize that it is abundantly clear that Jesus was drawn to the marginalized, the poor and the oppressed. He was hard on the religious leaders who oppressed the people with impossible burdens that they could not meet.
So why is it that in the western world, there is a general assumption that to be a Christian means that you are politically conservative? That you would support a political movement that denies the basics of human rights to certain groups of society?
How can you reconcile the message of Jesus with socially conservative policies?
In my piece I’m a Christian Feminist and I Struggle with the Abortion Issue I shared my wrestle with reconciling my new found faith with the views of the people that I encountered in the church. I was confronted by the assumptions that people made about my positions on things like the environment, sexuality and politics. It was a given that as a Christian I was socially conservative.
But I had not grown up in a protective Christian bubble. I had seen my fair share of the brokenness in the world first hand. I had suffered loss, endured long term domestic abuse and endured the relentless challenge of raising a disabled child.
And I knew plenty of people who had seen far worse than I had.
The Christian ‘big ticket’ items.
For over five years I have watched with interest and alarm as professing Christians, in my own country and elsewhere reduce their analysis of the suitability of political leaders to a very narrow range of issues, and base their voting decision on those alone. The issues I’m talking about will sadly come as no surprise to you. From what I have observed Christians, and evangelical Christians in particular, determine whether a potential leader is going to support their “Christian” agenda or not based on two main issues.
The rights of LGBT people, and abortion.
In my piece about abortion I said this
Five years later I find myself once again conforming, fitting in with the views of my new social circle. A circle that is predominately white, relatively privileged and right-leaning.
People who see me as being like them.
Maybe I am like them. Perhaps I’m making assumptions about their stance on various issues. We all have a tendency do that.
The assumptions are that I’m politically conservative, not getting too caught up with the climate change frenzy, and am against abortion and euthanasia. That I voted NO in the 2017 plebiscite regarding same-sex marriage.
That I understand that I can love the sinner but must reject the sin.
I deeply upset a reader by using that last line and for that I am deeply sorry. The article was not about LGBT issues. I have no experience or qualifications that entitle me to an opinion so I would not attempt to do so. I was trying, poorly, to demonstrate the reality that when an adult becomes a Christian, there can be a great deal of pressure, disguised as love, to toe the line when it comes to aligning political views with supposed Christian ideals.
And understandably that is a huge issue for people who live with prejudice and disadvantage every day. “Love the sinner but hate the sin” is a bigoted cop out because, at least as far as sexuality is concerned, it is inextricable from the person’s humanity. To hate what one perceives as a sexual sin is to hate the human.
There is no way around that.
I understand that now. And I’m sorry.
I am deeply disturbed that the decision as to whether a potential leader is a “friend” of Christianity is determined on such narrow issues, particularly when Jesus was very clear as to how believers were commanded to live.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:34–35 NIV
It is incomprehensible that any follower of Jesus could reconcile Christian faith with supporting a man who openly admits sexually assaulting women, supports separating children from parents in cages, and treats people of color together with gay, transgender and disabled people with contempt. It is undeniable that President Trump has total and utter contempt for the poor, for women, for LGBT people, for followers of other religions, for anyone who does not agree with him.
He is the perfect example of the self-absorbed narcissist, and we can’t turn a blind eye to this fact. No matter how evangelicals might try to justify his behavior, apparently because he is willing to take a stand on ‘Christian big-ticket issues’, the reality of who he is and what he stands for is clear.
Trump is a sexist, bigoted bully.
But the tunnel-visioned evangelical “Christian” votes for him anyway, because of the big-ticket issues.
This is indeed a disturbing time for Christ’s church.
What modern day issues would Jesus care about?
I can’t say what He would think about abortion or same-sex marriage, because he never mentioned them. I do believe though that His love for the oppressed, the sick, the marginalized and all on the fringes would include the desperate woman with the unplanned pregnancy, the man who loves a man, the teenager struggling with gender identity.
None of these people are excluded from the command that Jesus gave us.
Don’t believe me, go check, I’ll wait.
Love one another
We, followers of Jesus, are commanded to love everyone.
That’s our job. The rest is His job.
He knows what He is doing. Our job is to trust Him.
What are Christians who vote for Trump, really saying.
I believe that the redemptive message of Jesus is for every person.
The Lord is not slow about keeping His promise as some people think. He is waiting for you. The Lord does not want any person to be punished forever. He wants all people to be sorry for their sins and turn from them.
2 Peter 3:9
So what does it say when people like me, privileged, mainly white, largely upper-middle-class Christians rally behind a man who would struggle to look less Christ-like if he tried?
I’ll take a stab at it.
It says that I care more that the law of the land in which I live reflects the beliefs that I hold dear, than I do that people who have not seen the love of Christ will be open to hear it. My focus is on electing leaders that will make laws that align with my beliefs and enforce them against those who do not believe.
On those who have not had an opportunity to see and experience the love of a God that would take human form to bring to humanity the best news that the world has ever heard. On those who do not believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.
It says that I care more that my version of Christianity, the one that maintains my safe, privileged lifestyle and allows me to turn a blind eye to those who don’t look like me, believe like me and think like me, is the dominate influence in the nation than I do for the well being of the poor, sick and marginalized. It says that, whilst it was okay for Jesus to touch, talk to and eat with the outcasts of society, those people are not good enough for me.
It proves that I have not taken seriously the words that Jesus said. It is irrefutable evidence that the gospel is not front and center in my life.
I don’t believe you can support Trump and be serious about the message of Christ.
I certainly wouldn’t. I urge my fellow Christians to seriously consider the actual gospel, rather than what they have taught by their leaders, before exercising their right to vote.
Please consider what Jesus would do, if he was living your life, and casting your vote.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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