I watched the October 11 Sunday message at my church recently, where my pastor delved into the biblical perspective on the current state of politics in the United States. In this message, my pastor made it clear that he was independent with conservative values, and has voted on all sides of the aisle for majority of his life. He made it very clear that none of the candidates was perfect, and that no matter the outcome of the election, God is still in control of all things. For a topic that most religious leaders shy away from, I applaud my pastor for delving into such an important topic - because, as a christian, the church should always have insights on all life matters, including government (a clear distinction he made from "politics"). The message was very thoughtful and introspective. The message urged the church to vote with a Godly conscience, hinging on three main issues - the killing of the unborn, the party platform's position with Israel (as God's chosen people according to scripture), and the protection of religious freedoms. If you can read between the lines, this choice of issues leans toward one ideological direction and my goal here is to provide balance to that discussion. I will present a fairly brief discussion, because my board exam is scheduled for the next few days - and I need to get back to studying. However, I needed to write this before the election.
So, as you vote with a Godly conscience, remember that as much as God hates the shedding of innocent blood, He also hates a false witness who pours out lies and a person who is always stirring up conflict.
The message from October 11 highlighted one of the six things that God hates from the book of Proverbs chapter 6, verses 16-17: "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes...hands that shed innocent blood." This made a very strong case in favor of the popular conservative position. What is important to point out in the rest of this passage as it pertains to this election is the other parts that are not quoted: "...a lying tongue...a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community." Perhaps, you can read between the lines here - one presidential candidate embodies these things. So, as you vote with a Godly conscience, remember that as much as God hates the shedding of innocent blood, He also hates a false witness who pours out lies and a person who is always stirring up conflict.
Some may argue that protecting christian freedoms over all other religious freedoms is completely right because 70.6% of the US population is christian. However, this will leave the rights of non-christians (29.4% of the US population) unprotected, and that by definition is biased and unjust.
On the topic of protecting religious freedoms, I am a strong proponent of this. But the problem in American society today is that this "protection of religious freedoms" can be better described as a "protection of christian freedoms." Some may argue that protecting christian freedoms over all other religious freedoms is completely right because 70.6% of the US population is christian. However, this will leave the rights of non-christians (29.4% of the US population) unprotected, and that by definition, is biased and unjust. In a time when the current President tweets out pictures of his political opponents ("the enemy") in muslim attire (hijabs), it is clear that he is selectively dedicated to protecting christian freedoms, as opposed to all religious freedoms.
The killing of the unborn is a topic where morality and religious affiliation intertwine with religious freedoms - but sometimes that's hard to detect. A person's position on abortion is largely dictated by their religious position. In fact, 77% of white evangelicals, 42% of catholics, and 38% of black protestant christians believe abortion should be illegal in "all or most cases." This is in contrast to 17% of religiously unaffiliated Americans believing that abortion should be illegal in "all or most cases." So, this makes the role of religion very clear in people's position on abortion. In fact, this position is backed by the christian theology that life is sacred at the moment it is formed - "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you," Jeremiah 1 verse 5. My position as a physician is similar to the republican platform's position - abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy (when the fetus has developed the capacity to feel pain) must only be performed when medically necessary and only after alternate means (such as adoption, support services, etc.) have been foregone by the mother. This is my position - and I am christian. But, my position is based on my faith. What about the 29.4% of the American population who do not share my faith? Those people who don't believe in a "sacred," "divine" God who knows us before we are "formed." Must we enforce our belief system on them?
This is my position - and I am christian. But, my position is based on my faith. What about the 29.4% of the American population who do not share my faith? Those people who don't believe in a "sacred," "divine" God who knows us before we are "formed." Must we enforce our belief system on them?
This is where plurality is essential to the governing of society - government should only make into law, what is unequivocally agreed upon by society as morally objectionable. For example, it is illegal to go out on the street and kill a random person (without clear evidence the act was committed in self defense). Why is this a law? Because virtually no sane person would disagree with how morally objectionable killing a random person is. Let's bring this back to the abortion debate. According to current research, 61% of Americans believe abortions should be legal in "all or most cases." So, as much as our faith reminds us of this moral position on abortion being "bad" and "detestable by God", we cannot force this moral position on people because not everyone has the same frame of reference - christianity. In fact, enforcing this position on unreligious people is to strip them of their religious freedom to not believe the same things we do.
To seal my point, let's take an example from the Catholic Church. In Catholic tradition, a divorced person may not re-marry in the Catholic Church unless they first go through an annulment of the marriage. This is because of the belief of the "sanctity" of marriage. Now, wether you believe in this ideology or not, imagine if everyone was forced into this ideology because it came from "God?" That would not fly! Because it is a moral position that requires a faith-believing person to hold the same frame of reference - the Catholic faith. While it is very tempting and sensational to point out that this comparison is unequal - because "taking a life" is different from "getting re-married" -, recall that your belief that a one-day old zygote (product of conception) carries the same moral weight and importance as a 38 week (term) unborn child is heavily dictated by your religious views (although this may not be the basis for absolutely everyone).
As a final point to all my "pro-life" christians, remember that even when God knew it was bad for Adam and Eve to eat fruit from the forbidden tree, God still gave them a choice. If not, He could have made the tree so tall that they couldn't reach to grab the fruit. To quote the bible, Deuteronomy 30 verse 19 says: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, CHOOSE life, so that you and your descendants may live." Choice was always God's primary intention.
P.s. I could not delve much deeper into some of the medical nuances related to abortion because of time. If you would like more of a discussion on that, let me know in the comments, and I will plan to write an update to this article after my exam.
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