So You Think Winning at Candyland Actually Matters

A Plea For Perspective

Dear friends on the religious right. Some of whom are beloved readers here. (Yes, I have conservative friends. They are dear sincere people who care deeply about others, their families, this country, and the world. Just as many of my friends who would define themselves as more moderate or liberal care deeply about others, their families, this country, and the world.)

Totally borrowed this from Fox news. They won’t mind.

All day today I have seen you in various shades of despair as Obama prepares to serve as president for another 4 years. Your predictions are dire. America as you know and love it is no longer. Obama’s administration is going to destroy all that you love and hold dear. Obama is a baby killer. Obama is destroying the traditional family. God help us because the end is near. You wish this was all just a dream, and I’ve seen more than one reference to arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

First, please just stop watching Fox news and all of it’s affiliates for a couple of days, ok? Don’t tell me that they are the only station reporting the truth anymore. They are a multimillion dollar conglomerate whose business it is to make money. If they can get more of you to tune in and watch everyday by making you paranoid and expressing such polarizing views that you can’t help but be sucked in through fear, they will. Because then they make more money. It’s all about money. Just like all of the other news networks.

At least do me a favor and give equal time to different stations and perspectives, so that you can begin to see through the hype and understand that the fear is the same, from all of them. It’s just different things they tell you to be afraid of. You do know that they are selling fear on the other side too, right? “Be terrified of what will happen if the religious right get their way. We will go back to the dark ages. Women will have no right to say what happens to their bodies anymore. You won’t have healthcare when you’re sick. They will cut all programs that care for the poor and destitute. There is a war on women. The GOP has no compassion.”

Please step away from the fear mongering, all of you, on both sides. Please recognize that the truth lies somewhere on a completely different spectrum.

There, ok. Deep breaths. Let go of the fear.

Now, what is left?

You don’t like the president. Ok.

You disagree with his fiscal policies. All right then.

Is the world going to end in the next 4 years? Probably not.

Is there a chance that you won’t like what this country looks like at the end of it? Maybe. Just remember the legislative process is remarkably slow. Which is kind of on purpose, to keep things from getting out of hand.

Is your security supposed to come from the fact that the party you prefer wields the political power in the country you live in? Not even remotely!

You want abortion to be illegal again. Let’s think about this. When has an antiabortion president in the Whitehouse actually accomplished anything in terms of reducing the number of abortions? Since Roe vs. Wade I mean. What do you actually expect to happen if your candidate was elected? I mean, there is still an entire legislative process to go through. What are the odds you are actually going to get the legislation you want? Remember that this country just elected, by what appears to be clear majority, a pro abortion, pro gay marriage president. How do you expect an ever shrinking minority to get such a bill to pass?

Perhaps I shouldn’t have picked such a hot button issue as an example, but here’s my point. If you are playing at politics, and believing that victory in the political arena = victory for the kingdom of God you are sorely mistaken. 

Do you remember Jesus? He refused to play any of the games that everyone else was playing. He played an entirely different game, and by an entirely different set of rules. You are called to do the same.

You see, making abortion illegal again isn’t going to stop women from having abortions. It didn’t before it was legal. You aren’t going to change people by changing laws.

Do I believe that every abortion is a tragedy? Absolutely!

But I’ve learned a few things over the years. One of those is that trying to control people is a mistake. God gave people freedom, therefore they are free, and the choices they make are theirs, and they are responsible for them. Trying to legislate this country back toward the way it used to, or ought to, be is a futile effort. That is trying to use laws to control behavior, to control people.

The religious right has become so obsessed with controlling behavior through legislation in the claim to fight for freedom that they have forgotten what their real mission is. (Both sides do that exact same thing, claim to fight for freedom by limiting people’s choices through legislation.)

You see, the kingdom of God is not red states vs. blue states. It’s not fiscal conservatives vs. big government spending. It’s not even prolife vs. prochoice.

The kingdom of God is the followers of Jesus vs. no one. It’s loving everyone. It’s never dismissing a woman who’s situation is so complicated that abortion seems like a viable option as a baby killer. It’s loving her enough to walk through the pain she is feeling with her. To love her no matter her choice, even if it’s not the one you wanted her to make. And to give her all the support you are able, to help her actually feel free to choose without fear.

It’s loving the friend who voted for Obama, and honoring the ways that they are moved by the democratic rhetoric of caring for all of those who struggle. Even if you think it’s total BS and that the actual policies will do the opposite. It’s realizing that you have more in common with people on the other side of the polls than not, and choosing to care about them as people.

It’s loving that gay couple with the giant happy smiles on their faces as they come down the courthouse steps, and remembering that God loves them just as much as He loves you.

It’s letting go of hate and fear and winning the hearts and minds of people through loving them.

It’s rolling up your sleeves and personally attending to the needs you see, rather than waiting for the government to do it for you. It’s caring for those in need. It’s loving those who are alone. It’s the opposite of the polarizing fundamentalist positions that drive a wedge through this nation on both sides of the aisle.

The culture wars are over. You lost. Now how about we get back to what is really important, loving our neighbor as ourselves. How about we stop villainizing people and start treating them as individuals who are worthy of love and respect? Even if we disagree with them.

How about we start listening to opinions other than our own and actually having a dialogue rather than a shouting match? Every time someone does that they eventually discover common ground.

How about, and here is the kicker, we stop believing that politics is a war between good and evil and all that disagree with us are on the side of evil?

How about we step back and stop playing the game, and do the real work of the kingdom instead?

Who’s with me?

This post caused a lot of discussion and I found a few things needed clarification. Please see the follow up post When Winning at Politics Means Losing Something Better

all content © Carrien Blue

31 thoughts on “So You Think Winning at Candyland Actually Matters

  1. I'm with you! And happened to post something similar yesterday. We are called to lead like Jesus, loving people unconditionally at the point of their need. Any candidate who leads that way will have my vote; this time it was Obama.

  2. THANK YOU for putting what I've been trying to say into words! You're so much more articulate about it than I currently am.

  3. Sorry, but this frustrates me. There is a lot of rhetoric going around in the Christian community that says that people should stop worrying about abortion anymore, that you're a "single issue voter" if you vote based on that, etc. You're adding to that fire here.

    Abortion is far more than a single issue. And I'm not voting for anyone who stands up and says that this evil is a good thing and that he's going to do his best to make sure that its easier to obtain. It's easy to make statements like the president has little impact on it. You're wrong about that. He controls funding, rules about where that funding goes, controls manpower to prosecute abortionists who are performing partial birth abortion, and appoints judges.

    I sat at the Supreme Court and listened to the partial birth abortion arguments. Bush's soliciter general argued for the law banning it? Would Obama have sent anyone if it had come up on his watch? What, exactly, would they have argued? I listened to Ruth Bader Ginsburg calmly argue why it was no big deal that a physician used scissors to jab a baby in its neck to kill it. She talked about dismemberment in bland tones, and it made me blood run cold.

    This matters. It matters a lot. Yes, lots of bad things can happen if a bad president (maybe a Republican, yes) gets us into a bad war. People die. I get that. BUT, nobody is actually arguing that those deaths are good and we should promote them and make it easier for there to be more of them.

    It's gotten trendy to pick on the "religious right" in the name of looking objective and caring and balanced, etc. It's not like there isn't anything to pick on.

    But please don't tell me or anyone else that abortion isn't worth making or breaking your vote on. It's the civil rights issue of our time, and I'm tired of watching Christians sweep it under the rug.

    BTW, I have worked as a counselor at the crisis pregnancy center. People need to get on the front lines and help. I love friends and family members who have chosen to yes, kill, their babies. And yes, loving and serving and helping suffering women is just as important as legislation. But who is in charge is important on this issue, too.

  4. I completely get what you say and I can also see the perspective of Ellen. I have friends that could have written what Ellen wrote…my husband, for one. I have a daughter that voted democrate and a daughter that voted republican.

    But what I want to say is that you have written a piece that is thoghtful, brave, provocative and above all, truthful.

    My very smart and godly daddy used to tell me that we are aliens in a foreign land. When I was young and would get passionate about some issue or event, he would calmly sit me down and re-focus me on the "task" at hand. Love God. Love others. Be real. Be salt and light to a very dark world.

    We live in a very difficult time. I told my daughter yesterday that I am so grateful that I was born in the 50's and not in the 80's. I have seen a lot of presidents and I have heard a lot of campaign speeches and I know that very few actually follow through with what was promised. It's about power. It's about money. It's not really about anything else. And truthfully, it was not that much different when Jesus was alive.

    If only we (the church) would be the feet and hands of Jesus and would do for others who are in need, the way Jesus did, we would go a long way toward " winning the hearts and minds of people through loving them".

    And really, isn't that what we are called to do?
    Thank you for this post.

  5. Dear Ellen,

    I'm trying to do the opposite of picking on the religious right. Really I am.

    I didn't get to vote in this election, I'm still Canadian. Next one though. There's a good chance I'll be a citizen by then and have to make a voter's decision, rather than commenting on voter decisions.

    The point I'm trying to make is that as people who are supposed to be following Jesus's example we're doing it wrong. So many Americans confuse the governance of a country with laws that are by some definition more "Christian" than not with the great commission. Yes, abortion is an extremely important issue and we shouldn't just sit by as it happens. But we have been doing so far isn't working. Sure Bush's solicitor general argued for banning partial birth abortion. What exactly did that change? As I remember it, nothing.

    With opportunity, yes, change laws and make society more just and work for good. While you disagree with the left on the issue of abortion, they are also, in their own way, trying to make society more just, and work for the good they are able to conceive.

    But my point is that changing laws is not going to accomplish what we are actually after, which is changed hearts and lives.And our job is to be changing hearts and lives. Our concern is to be for people, and our relationships with them, and their relationships with God. And I think much of the activity of the religious right is damaging to that goal, and alienating to those people.

    I too have volunteered at Crisis Pregnancy centers, I don't know that I could vote for someone so blatantly for abortion, even if I agreed with every other policy. But I'm not talking about your vote or mine. I'm talking about our response to those who voted that way. They aren't the enemy. They aren't who you are really fighting against, and it would do us all good to remember that. The abortionist isn't our enemy either. None of the people in this administration or on the other side of the aisle are our enemy. They are our mission.

  6. "If only we (the church) would be the feet and hands of Jesus and would do for others who are in need, the way Jesus did, we would go a long way toward " winning the hearts and minds of people through loving them".

    And really, isn't that what we are called to do?"

    AMEN! Thank you for understanding what I'm trying to say.

  7. I think you're remembering it wrong if you think that Bush's solicitor general arguing against partial birth abortion accomplished "nothing." After that argument, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to pan partial birth abortions. Now, those who perform them can be prosecuted. Less partial birth abortions will now happen, and many of those women will give birth to live babies.

    I get your main point that we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus and love those that we disagree with. Of course we do!

    But that doesn't mean that its wrong to get frustrated and sad when evil is called good. And it doesn't mean that its wrong to use your vote to vote your conscience on these matters without being conflicted because some Christian friend told you that it was "loving" to vote for Obama.

    And yes, I've heard that one. And I've heard that Republicans "hate" poor people.

    "Progressive" Christians are now attacking their "right wing" Christian brothers and sisters because we take a stand and say firmly that some things are just bad and awful and we're voting against them. And I'm getting tired of it.

    Even if you are kind and low key and say very little about how you vote or what you believe, you're going to be disliked for believing it quite often. I feel like I'm expected to apologize for WHAT I believe, not HOW I mention it, (if I even mention it at all.) I can't apologize for the content of what I believe, and if that means that the world hates me, Jesus said it would.

    I've seen a lot of blog posts floating around (especially related to certain marriage amendments) where Christian bloggers fall all over themselves trying to look understanding and compassionate and gentle…. and totally downplay as much as possible that they actually think that the behavior of the neighbors that they love is a sin. Is that truly loving? Would Jesus do that? Based on his blunt way of talking in the Gospels, I kinda doubt it….

  8. I guess the bottom line is that I think that votes do matter. I can't use my vote to change hearts, but I can use it to try and protect the powerless through the legitimate power that the state exercises to protect its citizens from abuse and death. I don't like that I'm feeling increasingly like I'm expected to apologize for that.

    This world is not my home. I don't expect the government to save me or anyone else. I fully expect that I'm not going to fit in in America. It's not like I'm not a minority already.

    But nobody is going to argue that I should just give up and move on without a fight (as you can see). Those babies (and their mamas) deserve better.

  9. Oh how I love to read your thoughtful, wise, wonderfully loving posts! You give me hope for us all. This whole election cycle has made me so sad at the way we have all been treating each other. Just so sad. Thank you for trying to be a voice or reason and love.

  10. Hi Ellen,

    I didn't say that votes don't matter, and I didn't say to not vote with your conscience and to do your best in this arena. I didn't say you should give up. I didn't even say to not feel frustrated and sad when evil is called good. I didn't say to not speak your mind and stand for what you believe. I didn't say that you should apologize for it. I didn't even say that I disagree with your politics, because largely, I don't.

    I just think you maybe frustrated because you are focusing all that fight and passion in the wrong arena.

    I am trying to say that when the voting is over and that part is done, remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood.

    I'm after total redemption. That's my job, and yours. Laws have a role to play in that. But they are hardly the primary means by which we seek redemption. If evil is to be overcome, it's not by legislation. It's by you and I and everyone else being the presence of God here, to the best of our ability. And I just can't see Jesus, our best picture of God, drawing partisan lines and standing on one side pointing fingers at the other. Can you?

    What Jesus got angry at wasn't the people who were sinning, it was the people so terribly missing the point of what being the people of God was all about. It was the ones who thought that their keeping of the law and their lineage made God like them better than the others, it was the ones who kept people away from God and set up barriers for them that He condemned. For all of Jesus' bold talk he didn't use it to condemn sinners, he spent his time with them.

    So the question is, are we setting up barriers for people to come into the kingdom? Why is it that hate, not love, is what most people in the country under 30 think of when they think of the religious right? I'm asking us to evaluate how what has been done so far is actually working. Is it bringing people into the kingdom, or driving them away. Does the activity of the religious right accurately reflect the character of God, the testimony of Jesus, and the bring light, life and freedom to a broken nation?

    I'm not sure it does, or ever did, because the kingdom of God was never intended to be institutionalized through a government, and bad things have almost always happened as a result of people trying to make it happen that way. And perhaps we should apologize for so poorly representing Christ in this country in our political activities. Just maybe.

  11. I think that I am advocating that some fight and passion should be expended in the political arena, and you are advocating that it doesn't really matter, so I'm mostly wasting my time.

    I am not arguing that all the tactics of the "religious right" are good. That's a pretty huge category. I cringe at plenty of them. But I'm not going to condemn all of them with a big brush stroke because of some bad behavior.

    It's not a piece of cake to figure out exactly what is an inappropriate attempt to "bring God's kingdom" in America and what is trying to be a good steward and help our nation. There is plenty in the Old Testament about the rise and fall of wicked nations. God judged entire nations for their evil practices, and bad things happened to the just and unjust alike in those nations. I did an in- depth study of Genesis with Community Bible Study last year, and it was sobering.

    I think that one big reason why most people under 30 in this country think of hate when they think of the religious right is because what they hear when we say, "I respectfully disagree with some of your choices" is "I hate you." I don't think that the "religious right" has all the responsibility for driving away people from the kingdom. There were many, many people who didn't come to Jesus in his day because they didn't want to change, and that continues today. And people get angry when they see people holding up a standard that is different than theirs, and they won't tolerate disagreement, and they cry "hate."

  12. Hi Roarke

    As to Fox news, I have to assume that it's the source of the doomsday mentality I hear in several people I actually know who we're actually saying the things I mentioned in this post. I've also read several right wing blogs with echoes of the same theme. My point is the fear actually apparent in the otherwise normal and rational people I know comes from somewhere, regardless of the source. If I make a generalization from the people I know in person, the people I follow online, and the reading I have done I believe it's one that is warranted. I simply quote and observe in this case.
    I am not saying that most people aren't more rational given reflection, otherwise I wouldn't waste my time trying to call them toward exactly that.
    Neither am I saying that Christians shouldn't be involved in politics. As I already stated in the comment thread below. I am saying we need to remember that winning at politics is not our end game, and that our tactics to date to win at politics are often a detriment to our actual end game. He who wins a battle but in the process destroys what he set out to gain loses it all.
    As to abortion legislation, this is one of those instances where I think current tactics are failing and costing us the final objective. That's just an objective assessment and I'm not the only one saying so. I'm not just talking about conservative candidates who spout stupidity either. (Please see Todd Akin and his ignorant and callous remarks re: legitimate rape if you need an example of what I'm talking about. Even people who are sympathetic to the pro-life cause are offended by people like him.) Sound bites from people like him, and there are plenty, are harming, rather than helping the cause.
    The the actual position of conservatives, prolifers, and the religious right is rarely presented and when it is done so it is often poorly.
    I'm actually shocked that you would throw into this otherwise rational discussion the suggestion that the conservative platform is more in line with the things that God cares about than the liberal platform. Are you serious or joking here? I have several friends who voted for Obama because the liberal platform of accessible medical care and programs that help people going through hard times look a lot more like Jesus and his compassion than fiscal responsibility does. I don't even know why you said this. And since when did God tell us to be good stewards with our money? Jesus kept telling people to give it all away. Old testament law telling you to leave the extra for the strange and widow to have is hardly good stewardship, it's shockingly generous.

  13. For what it's worth, I feel thoroughly disrespected by your words and your tone, which seems ironic, considering the point you seem to be trying to make.
    Also, as a passionate follower of Jesus, who is willing to put myself out there to be His hands and feet, I think you are mistaken about your premise that our government's position on things isn't important. Our laws and our cultural acceptance of sinful behavior emboldens, excuses, and even encourages people to do self-destructive things that make it harder for them to be open to the gospel.
    But, mostly, I think it's sad that you make us – "conservatives" – sound shallow and fearful and foolish. My hope is only in the Lord, but I do think our choices as a nation will impact people in very hurtful ways. And I think that matters.

  14. Hi Brenda,

    I am sorry for any offense, for it wasn't intended. And I should have perhaps clarified that I am much more of the conservative position than not so I feel I'm talking to us, as a group, as one would among people one has something in common with. Perhaps that's why the tone felt disrespectful to you. I would also ask you to read again as I specifically made a point of speaking not only to conservatives but also liberals when I spoke of fear mongering and partisanship/

    As I keep having to clarify in this comment thread, I'm not saying politics isn't important, and I'm not saying that we shouldn't be present in them. I AM saying that as Christians and other people of faith that there are things even more important than politics and that we would do well to remember them, especially now.

    I think that we are guilty of forgetting that winning at politics isn't the point, and that politics is simply a tool or an avenue by which we seek to participate in the redemption of the world as the continued work of Christ and the presence of God through the spirit in it. It is hardly the most powerful or important tool either.

    I think that trying to win at politics has often been damaging to our true objective which is to bring people into the kingdom of God, specifically by the things we do to try and win at politics which are inconsistent with our faith and damaging to the image of God in this country.

    I do not think conservatives "shallow fearful and foolish" but I do think our political conduct has been exactly that on many occasions. I am not talking about individuals but about the collective image formed by the group as a whole.

    I hope that that offers some clarification. And again, I apologize. I understood writing this that there would be people who disagreed but I did not intend to offend.

    Thank you for commenting.

  15. I am amazed and saddened at how much American Christianity allows itself to be Christian Americanism. That calls like yours, Carrien, to disentangle citizenship in the kingdom of God from citizenship in the USA have to be voiced is bad enough. That so many Christian Americans have so thoroughly enmeshed the two that they can't even hear that call without feeling affronted and attacked is heartbreaking.

  16. I just wanted to say that I really appreciated this post. As a Christian who finds certain religious leaders to be out of step with her core beliefs, I've been struggling with the political reactions of my Christian right friends for awhile now. I come from a Republican family, yet I find the party line completely out of touch with the message I heard from the pulpit on Sunday. To hear my friends' reactions about the latest election results makes me wonder if we were sitting in the same Sunday school class.

    That said, I feel like both sides have the wrong end of the stick on abortion. I've never had an abortion and I never want my daughter to ever feel like she needs that option. I have known women who have had them, and it follows them for the rest of their lives. It is destructive to the mother, just as it is to the child. But the problem is not just abortion itself. The problem is unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. We solve the problem of abortion by working toward eliminating the need for abortion. That starts with education.

    I believe education includes, of course, the basics of human sexuality and reproduction. It includes information about birth control. It includes information about masturbation. It includes the responsibilities of relationships and parenthood. It includes education about sexual inequality, rape and abuse. And yes, it includes education about abstinence and the importance of waiting to have sex. True education does not exclude any one of these for the other. I agree — you cannot control behavior. The best you can do is educate people so they have quality information on which to base the decisions they make about their behavior.

    I also agree with your assessment of Fox News. In fact, I find the whole organization offensive. The selling of fear under the guise of my religion and/or my father's political affiliation to make money is nothing short of abhorrent. I'm not saying that any media organization is better than the other on this point either. But Fox has veered towards distortion and irresponsibility on a new level.

    Kudos for bringing up important topics like this one. I applaud your opinion and those of the previous commenters. Good discussion is key to our country's political process. I wish we saw more of it from the people actually running for office.

  17. Roarke,

    Obviously you still fail to understand what it is that I said to begin with. And my attempts so far to clarify this point for you have been futile.
    I didn't accuse you of being simpleminded. I accused you of being small minded, that is, unable to see the big picture, which I am trying to show you. You still do not see what I am trying to show you. I'm trying to get you to look up, and look past your preconceptions and think about something differently for just a minute. Just one tiny minute.

    In the end politics is like a board game that doesn't matter. Exactly! Are you going to take you political victories to heaven with you? How about your legislature? Is there a place for it in the redeemed heaven and earth? No! Therefore it is temporary. Why do you have such a problem with me saying that? You are demonstrating my point of people being so stuck in their current worldview and political agendas that they can't see past it to anything else, and their ability to understand truth is limited by how much of it they can fit into their own box.

    "You’re inadvertently demanding that the state conform to your theological/philosophical beliefs about the freedom of the human will in relation to moral choices." No, you are. You and everyone else that thinks the state should legislate according to your own personal view of morality. That's the problem. I don't expect the state to fulfill my personal theology, I accuse the right and the left of doing that however. I don't expect the state to be much of a help at all, because it's power is extremely limited, especially when it comes to the work of making people good.

    Whether I value moral free will over the lives of my children or not, God did. Thus he didn't force us to become righteous, but allowed us to kill his son instead so that we could be redeemed, free will intact. The first thing you have to become comfortable with as you become an adult is that people actually have freedom, and you can't control them, and your life is subject to the freedom of others. This is a very uncomfortable fact and I would often wish it otherwise. But God thought it important enough to give us all free will, including you and I, and If you and I get it, than everyone gets it. To clarify, I am not talking about government when I talk of people being free to make choices, at all. I'm talking about our fundamental freedom as human beings imbued with the image of God and the power to changes things for good or for evil. I'm speaking of a bigger picture than government, a picture which we should hold in mind as Christians participating in government so we don't lose sight of whether what we do is working in light of the bigger picture.

    What makes me saddest in all of this is realizing that apparently Christians don't believe that the gospel actually has enough power to change that world, and think that prayer and a life of faith are so weak that we need the "power" of politics to effect any real change in this world. If the gospel is that weak, if the Christian life is so powerless, why bother?

    If you want to change things, you have to change people, and politics will never have the power to do that.

  18. Carrien, it is not my fault or the fault of other readers if we do not understand what you mean to communicate, rather it is the failure of your own rhetorical act to communicate your ideas clearly. So please stop trying to put that on me and other readers by implying that we are “small-minded” and caught up in our own constricting worldviews(Although I am sure we all are to one degree or another. Yes, even you).

    Also, have you considered the possibility that I understand and agree with your main point – that putting all our energy into legislation and political discourse is not the best means of achieving the kingdom here on earth – but I simply disagree with the way you stated it or the arguments you made along the way? I don’t disagree with you primary claim, I thought I implied that before, but it is the way you are arguing for it and the implications of those arguments that give me pause.

    I have no problem with you saying that whatsoever Carrien. Where do you get that idea? I thought I made it explicit – I don’t believe it is the state’s job to do what the church is supposed to. Its job is justice plain and simple, as the scriptures clearly state. The goals of the state and of the church often overlap, and it’s fine if we disagree on where that is appropriate, as long as you understand what I am saying.

    You believe morality is completely relative? I don’t want the state to enforce some sort of moral code, I want it to be just and promote justice as God apparently wants it to as well. My understanding is that you wanted the state to conform to your theology by not having legislation that moderates human behavior. It was inaction of the state in areas of ethical policy rather than action. Does that make sense?

    “To clarify, I am not talking about government when I talk of people being free to make choices, at all. I'm talking about our fundamental freedom as human beings imbued with the image of God and the power to changes things for good or for evil.”

    Awesome, then we agree 🙂

    I for one believe that the gospel is that powerful, probably even more. But politics can also be a powerful force of good in this world, and God seems to care about what we do in the here and now. One more time, I’m not saying that politics can or should replace the complete role of the church. What I am saying is that the state does have a Biblically mandated role in human society though, which I think you agree with, no?

    It appears you and I have been arguing on different levels, and about different situations therefore I don’t see any reason for this to continue. I just hope you are clear as to my beliefs on this issue, as I think I understand yours.

  19. As I am most definitely responsible for how I communicate my thoughts, so are you. How am I to consider that you agree with the basic premise and take exception to method of presentation if you do not say so, stating what the basic premise you agree with is and your agreement? It is not automatic to consider that the person attacking your position is in agreement with you.

    Neither are the things you thought you made explicit actually explicit in your comments.

    However, I agree that we have been talking about different things, and I've been trying to make that apparent and help you to see that I'm not talking about what you are talking about. I'm glad you realize it now.

    To answer your question, I don't believe that morally is completely relative. But I hardly think that trying to state to a postmodern post Christian population that these laws are just because the Bible says so is going to accomplish much.

    "I don’t want the state to enforce some sort of moral code, I want it to
    be just and promote justice as God apparently wants it to as well." Newsflash, your idea of justice is a moral code or based on one. You can't avoid that. Punishing murderers is only considered justice because as a society our moral code says that killing a person is wrong. They are inextricably linked.

    I never once said that the state should conform to my statement that people should be empowered to experience true freedom in their decision making process. Every action I stated in the post was one that people themselves ought to do. (How is the government going to walk with a woman through her pain and distress at an unwanted pregnancy? That's something a person does, for another person.) It was the opposite of saying government should do it. My entire point is that we put too much faith in government if we think it will do such things for us. I'm really baffled as to how that turned into your understanding that I want the state to conform to my theology.

    One last question. I'm going to need you to show me where in the Bible the mandated role of the state is laid out. Because I'm confused on that issue. I understood the handling of the existence of governments to be much more pragmatic. "They are here, you must deal with them, this is the Godly way to do it." I don't know that God ever gave the governmental structures of mankind any sort of mandate. Please show me where that is.

  20. “In the end of the day I probably more often than not agree with you that some Western Christians’ strategies regarding the removal of evil from our societies are ineffective at best and damaging at worst, and I would join you in criticizing them.” – Roarke

    “You're spot on with our duty as Christians to love others…” – Roarke


    “However, I agree that we have been talking about different things, and I've been trying to make that apparent and help you to see that I'm not talking about what you are talking about.”

    Carrien, I find you whole tone very demeaning. Is this intentional? From my perspective you have been just as misunderstanding of my words and perspective as I have been of yours, so neither of us can take the high horse. I don’t really believe you when you claim to have had such clarity of the rhetorical situation all along.

    “But I hardly think that trying to state to a postmodern post Christian population that these laws are just because the Bible says so is going to accomplish much.”

    And…? Is that a strategy I argue for? Not that I disagree, but just because some people think it’s OK to kill kids before and after birth doesn’t mean it is and doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight legal battles against it.

    “Newsflash, your idea of justice is a moral code or based on one.”

    I don’t deny that, as you said it is unavoidable. But that doesn’t change the fact that a biblical understanding of the state is one of justice and that the logical role of the state is to keep its populace safe from each other and foreign threats.

    “I never once said that the state should conform to my statement that people should be empowered to experience true freedom in their decision making process.”

    It was my understanding that you didn’t think antiabortion laws would be helpful in stopping abortion and therefore the state shouldn’t make laws against abortion? I thought you were arguing for INACTION of the state. If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry about it as it doesn’t seem you’ll come to a helpful understanding of what I meant.

    "They are here, you must deal with them, this is the Godly way to do it."

    That is more what I am talking about, well stated! Here’s some of the scripture that acts as the foundation for my political beliefs:

    Romans 13:1-4: Here we read that Christians should submit to the governing authority and that rulers “…hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?” And here’s the important part, “Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

    In these verses in Romans we get the idea that God wishes to use the state as a protector of the righteous and a punisher of “wrongdoers.”

    Also in the book of Peter we read the same theme that we are supposed to submit to government authority, for the Lord’s sake, as governmental authority is supposed to be those “…who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”

    The wisest man who ever lived also has some things to say about the role of the state – “A wise king winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them.” And, “By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.” Also, “If an king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will always be secure.” And my personal favorite, “Speak up for those who cannot speak themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

  21. Hi Ellen,

    My preference is there are no abortions ever. If I thought that fighting for legislation making abortion illegal again would make that happen I would. (Within reason, medical reasons for terminating a pregnancy do exist. Ectopic pregnancies for example, in which neither mother or child have a chance of surviving if they continue.)

    But a hard look at the reality of where our country is and the culture, I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon. People have so closely associated access to abortion with rights and freedoms that it will take more than a political or legislative victory to disengage that. And I don't think that political/legislative policy is possible while they are still entwined.

    I think in this subject, as in others, it is our job to work to change our culture, not by legislation, though yes, ban partial birth abortion, minimize the damage by all available legal avenues, but by our conduct in our culture.

    I think we need to re-frame the discussion. I think we need to devote our intelligence and care to making the real position of pro-life heard and understood. That will be easier if we can refrain from politicizing it, resulting in horrible soundbites from the like of say, Todd Akin. I'm sure you and I both agree that it would have been better if, instead of spouting callous opinions that are completely untrue about "legitimate rape", his answer to that objection was, "As traumatic as it is for a woman to discover that she is pregnant after being raped, we firmly believe that to have an abortion only adds to, not takes away from her trauma, and there are studies that demonstrate this. Our position is not only one of care for the unborn child but for the woman who carries him/her and we want to help in her healing."

    I don't think we are doing a good job of demonstrating care for the woman who is pregnant, as well as the baby she carries, and I think the rhetoric fails to demonstrate that the pro-life position is one of concern for the mother as well. (By we I mean the public image of the collective group of people. I know most individuals within it do care about the woman in question, deeply, and I'm sure it's the same for you having worked in pregnancy care centers in the past.) We are shouting that it's wrong, which it is. But I think we are more likely to have an effect from the angle of enlightened self interest. "This will hurt you more than you know. You are trying to avoid the pain of everything but there is no way to make this go away now, we are trying to help you not add to it."

    I don't know if that answers your question as you wanted me to. I think the simplest way to answer is to say that in a fantasy world I'm totally for abortion being illegal. IN that fantasy no one ever wants one anyway. But my current assessment of reality leads me to believe we'll have more success if we try on other fronts first.

  22. The things you said in agreement aren't specifically about my basic premise.

    As to being demeaning, not in the least. You don't have to believe me that I've been trying to get you to understand what I'm saying so we can start talking about the same things, but you can go back and read all the places where I said you don't understand yet, or I'm trying to help you see, etc. You haven't been talking about what I actually said, not as a whole concept.

    I admit to being somewhat disappointed by this conversation as I have a high opinion of your intelligence, and thought we had enough common ground to begin from, even though we may disagree, to at least make the discussion coherent. I'm glad that we have at least come to some common ground at this point.

    For the sake of others who may read this conversation later I would like to comment on your reference to Romans and remind you that it is talking of a government that was burning Christians at the stake and putting them in arenas with lions, so unless you exegesis of that passage takes into account that fact you may need to go and revisit it. Because it was most definitely not, "You don't need to fear being arrested and executed for doing what is right or obeying God."

    However, I would like to suggest that we take this conversation offline now, since we can. I would like to talk farther and I think it would be better, for the sake of our friendship to do it face to face. Next week would be good. We can set it up on facebook.


  23. I missed all the discussion when this was originally posted, but…ME. I AM WITH YOU. I AGREE ALMOST 100% WITH THIS POST.

    I was trying to convey this point to my husband on election day, and we got into quite a discussion. I think on any day but the day a candidate he does not support was re-elected, he probably would have been able to see my side, but on that day he was worried and disappointed. Which is completely understandable, because he has real issues with Obama's financial and foreign-relations policies. As he is someone who has studied economics and who has worked for the Navy as a Supply Officer and traveled all over the world for the past 20 years, I trust that his views are well-thought-out and backed-up by plenty of evidence and experience.

    As I told him that day, I'm thankful that people like him have a passion for politics because I just do not.

  24. Thanks Bethany.

    Especially when the elections don't go the way we think is best, and all the good reasons we have for being concerned, which I know are legitimate, remain. That's when it's most important to me to remember that politics is not the only way to change things, and that we are not powerless. We're playing a bigger game, and that one we have a good chance of winning in the long run. It keeps me hopeful.

  25. Thanks Ellen, though most of the post really doesn't make any headway on the issue, the journal article at by Michael J. New that is quoted toward the bottom looks like important evidence of significant correlation, even if limited, between state-level legislation and the abortion rates of that state. Even if this paper turned out to be faulty it would still be valuable to get more righteous legislation on the books. However whether we work for legislation or not it is ultimately the healing of the brokenness that lies on the "demand side" of abortion that we as children of our Father are uniquely equipped to accomplish.

  26. I don't think this is all that contentious. What I find strange is that a country that can have people who are so avidly anti-abortion also apparently has the worst child abuse record in the Western world – – and this, the article alleges with evidence, is because of the lack of social care. Now, I know nobody has much sympathy for people who have children when they're not really ready, and who may require support – but, really, if we care so much about these unborn babies that we insist the ill-equipped and unprepared have them, then that care should continue on into their lives. I'm oversimplifying, but I think that article is shocking, and this blog post reminded me of it.

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