Saturday, November 08, 2008

Misplaced Priorities

This past week in California we saw a classic example of Christians organizing, uniting, and fighting for a cause they thought was important while at the same time ignoring a cause that is probably closer to the heart of God.
On the ballot we had a state-wide measure called Proposition 8 that amends the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. While I agree that the Biblical design for marriage is only between a man and a woman I am disheartened by the message Christians sent around this issue. Here are a few of my concerns:

1) The campaign ads surrounding this issue were more about "homophobia" than about defining marriage. This tactic may have proved effective in getting this proposition to pass but it was also effective in driving a further wedge between Christians and those in the homosexual community.

2) Churches and pastors spent much time on organizing and rallying their people to pass this proposition. This seems okay on the surface but to be qualified as a tax-exempt organization, we agree to not attempt to influence legislation. We can share opinions and scripture that relates to a subject but telling people to vote one particular way actually violates the law and puts the integrity of these churches on the line.

3) 80 million dollars was raised and spent for this cause meanwhile relatively nothing was done to support the proposition that requires teenagers to get parental permission to have an abortion. Our kids cannot pierce their ears and they cannot take asprin from the school nurse without the parents knowing but they can have a surgical procedure performed to end the life of an unborn child.

Here is where I have the biggest problem with this year's election. Christians think that if they don't pass a law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman (which will only be overturned by the government), then God will be angry with California and unleash His judgement. Meanwhile we give no attention to a law that will protect the lives of unborn children who have no voice. Those who have no voice are continually listed in the Bible as the ones for whom we should fight. The poor, the oppressed, the orphans, and the widows are just a few that God repeatedly admonishes his people to care for. The unborn are included along with these who cannot fight for themselves.

So why is it that we consistently get worked up over the wrong issues and further alienate the very people we claim to want to reach with the love of Jesus and at the same time fail to fight for a cause that is one of the easiest things to vote for on the entire ballot? I think it is because the reality is that many religious people still fear and sometimes hate those that they are uncomfortable around. I think it is just easier for religious people to feel like they are fighting for their god by fighting against a known "enemy" and it is not so easy to have a consistent theology of caring for the "least of these".


Kevin said...

politics won't save us.

that has always been my battle.

i don't like abortion.

i don't like war.

both are not pro-life.

yet i am constantly having to choose between the two.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you with regards to Proposition 8. On my way home from work, I saw a huge group of people standing on one corner with "Yes" signs, whoopin' and hollerin' at the passing cars while one lonely person on the other side stood with her "No" sign. I couldn't help but wonder why the Christians on the "yes" side (I guess I'm assuming that there were some Christians included in that group) were more intent on "winning the vote" and hearing the horns honk than taking the time to walk across the street and love on that lone girl who probably felt very isolated and at the very least, disliked. Regardless of how we stand on the issue, we are called to love like Jesus, first and foremost; not do whatever it takes to simply "win" the vote. If that's the case, then we have already lost. Very sad ... I think you are right in that people are not only uncomfortable with this issue, but afraid. The truth is, we all have "issues" yet God loves us all the same. We are called to reflect that love to EVERYONE and let God deal with their issues in His own perfect way. Just as He is working on me, He is working on us all. But, in my case, I don't have to deal with other Christians "hating" me while God walks me through it. The unloving and sometimes hateful attitudes from the Christian community, unfortunately, will become a bigger hurdle for them to get over than the issue itself if we don't get over ourselves, toss aside the fear, and have a little faith.

Scott said...

To be honest, I am not sure if it was a matter of misplaced priorities within the Church. Granted, I have not studied all the statistics of the election, but I would be surprised if a true, God fearing Christian voted yes on 8 and then turned around and voted no on 4. I am not saying this did not happen, but I think there were a lot of other factors that caused 8 to pass and 4 to be voted no against. Part of this, I think, has to do with secular culture as well. Much of secular culture is just as homophobic as a lot of the church is, maybe even more so. But at the same time, our culture also doesn't give a damn about human life and the fact that 4000 babies are murdered every day through abortion. They also do not care that the women having these abortions are left with guilt and psychological scars that will last them the rest of their lives. This is why I think we saw prop 8 pass and prop 4 fail.

All this to be said, if I had to choose between either legalizing gay marriage or stopping abortion, without question I would choose to ban abortion. However, we have a system of government in which we have an opportunity to cast our vote on both issues. For that reason I voted yes on both. I wasn't on a street corner picketing or yelling condemnation on people, but I am very firm about my decision and do not regret it. Do I think that the government is just going to overturn prop 8? Yes, but that doesn't mean we should just let culture shape our views.

I understand the frustration of a poor representation of the church, when all we see is condemnation and never grace. However, I am just as annoyed when I see the church allow culture and popular opinion slide in, and undermine the authority of scripture and what it says regarding marriage and life.