Angry at the Church & Christians?: A Defense for Their Failures

I went through a faith crisis for over a year, starting when I was abroad in 2016. I was sickened by the tidy, calm, unrevolutionary Jesus portrayed by base-of-the-mountain Churches and Christians. I was tired of seeing Christians ignore issues like refugee crises, sex trafficking, and families falling apart all over our nation due to divorce, porn, and addictions to idols. I was sick of watching people be rejected for their pasts, even though they repented. I could go on. I was so angry at the church. I blamed religion. I blamed Christians. I kept going to church, but I always had my guard up.

I am so glad I went through that. It motivated me to spend time deep in the Word, to understand who Christ really is. It motivated me to open my eyes to the revolutionary, life-changing, culture-challenging Jesus that the Bible describes. It motivated me to become the Christian I am, even though I am beyond imperfect. It furthered my faith and allowed me to really get to know the God I claimed to have a relationship with. I began to see the depth of the Gospel, the depth of salvation, and the depth of Christ’s heart.

That being said, I moved forward. I was right to find my own faith. I was right to seek Christ and Truth without only taking in what people tell me. It sparked something beautiful, but where I am now has given me peace. I see others going through that. I see plenty of millennial Christians who are going through the same thing– but to the point of leaving the church. Here’s what I have to say to my peers who are struggling with their faith because of the failures of the Church and Christians. 

1. Understand that the Church and Christians will never be perfect.

When an institution is made up of sinners, it will never be perfect. If we have true faith, we have changed hearts that seek righteousness. However, we are bound to make mistakes. We are bound to have the wrong views on earthly issues. We are bound to fail. But our identity doesn’t rely on how perfect we are, but on how perfect Christ is. If we expect the Church or Christians to be perfect, our theology is wrong. That being said, challenge the Church. Challenge Christians. Set high standards and push them to be as much like Christ as possible.

2. Realize that if you want to see change, you have to get involved.

After working at many churches this summer, I noticed how so many churches lacked volunteers. If you really want to impact your church, your community, and the next generation of Christians; get involved. Lead, devote your time, join a small group. You can’t complain if all you do is complain. You are called to be part of a community. Church isn’t for attending, it’s for being part of a family. You can’t fulfill the mission of the church by only going to services. 

3. Make sure your faith is based on Christ alone, not imperfect representations of Him. 

If your faith depends on how sinners represent Christ, your faith isn’t grounded in the right place. Your belief, your relationship, and your heart depend on Christ alone. He is the only savior. He is the only one who is sinless and perfect. He is the only one who can redeem the world. Make sure you’re focusing, ultimately, on Christ.

 

If you’re struggling with this, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to talk.

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The Sin of Tolerance

Tolerance. Tolerance is allowing the existence, occurrence, or practice of something without interference. Tolerance is preached by a variety of people- Christians and non-Christians alike. Everyone wants to be respected. Everyone wants to live their life without the interference of others. But tolerance is the absence of love. Here’s why:

1. Tolerating other religions is the absence of love. 

Let me be completely clear: I am by no means preaching that we should think less of others, attack others, or disrespect others that do not believe in Jesus Christ. What I am saying is that the most hateful thing you can do is not share the beautiful news of the gospel. Life is too short to be shy about eternity. If you want to respect someone’s life choices, do so. Just don’t deprive them of the opportunity to hear that there is a God who loves them. Don’t deprive them of the news that is not only life-changing, but eternity-changing. As much as I appreciate seeing a coexist bumper sticker, respecting others while withholding something much bigger than this life is not love at all.

This life is not about making it through school and working until you retire. This life is not about family or friends. This life is not about getting married and having children. This life is about finding true life through Jesus Christ and reflecting it onto others. It’s about bringing a taste of the fullness and satisfaction of heaven to earth. At its essence, Hell is eternal separation from God. Eternal separation from the only one that can fulfill you, perfectly love you, and provide for you. Don’t let your tolerance, fear of being a Jesus-freak, and shyness get in the way of someone else’s eternity. You are called to emulate the light of Christ. No one gets to the Father except through Christ (John 14:6). Help others know Him, we are His ambassadors.

2 Corinthians 5:20 says,

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ– God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2. Tolerating sin is the absence of love. 

Christians (myself included) seem okay with a number of sins. Judgment (Matthew 7). Pride (Romans 12). Greed (Luke 12). Gluttony (Romans 13). Selfishness (Philippians 2). Gossip (2 Corinthians 12). Hatred (1 John 2). Idolatry (Exodus 20). These are sins that I personally struggle with. When we don’t call each other out in grace and truth, we are not loving each other the way we are called to.

Let me make something else clear: Good works don’t get you to heaven, but they are a natural result of a heart that belongs to the Lord. If your heart is truly changed by the truth of the gospel, you are naturally compelled to be more like Christ. We should be rejecting sin like God rejects sin. We need to be forgiving of ourselves and others, but we should be standing up against the sins that are very alive and well in our lives and in the church.

We should be embodying humility, grace, forgiveness, generosity, selflessness, honesty, love, and service to the one true God. We should be encouraging each other to do so as well. We should not turn a blind eye to “acceptable” sins in our own lives or in the lives of others. I mean, where would I be if my mother wasn’t around to tell me I was being stupid most of my adolescence? (And still now. Thanks, Ma.)

Matthew 18:15-17 says:

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

3. Tolerating yourself is the absence of love. 

It sounds cheesy, but I feel like God is asking me to be vulnerable in this moment. How many of us merely tolerate ourselves? On an average day, I honestly don’t like myself very much. I’m in a period of my life where my average week includes being rejected from yet another job, hating myself for eating mac and cheese instead of all the fresh fruit and vegetables I have, and being alone so much that I overthink about who I am as a person. Here’s the truth: I am far from perfect. I am selfish, controlling, and argumentative. I eat more than I should, exercise less than I should, and spend less time with people than I should. Ask my parents. Ask my brother. Ask my poor boyfriend.

But whatever you or your life are like, you were created in the image of God. Merely tolerating yourself is like merely tolerating God because you’re not fully appreciating His creation. Not to make you feel worse about yourself, but not loving yourself is a sin. I think one of the best traits to have is being self-aware. Yes, you should know your flaws– knowing them means you can work toward being more and more like Christ. But being self-aware includes being aware of your value and worth through Christ. When God looks at me, He doesn’t see someone who struggles with jealousy, judgment, and greed. He sees His daughter. He sees the image of His Son. He sees someone who was made righteous. He sees someone whose body and mind He created beautifully and perfectly.

1 John 3:1 says,

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Aggression at Bethel in an Emotionally Charged Nation

 

Over the past several years at Bethel, I have almost always felt safe, respected and valued–I cannot say the same about this present school year. I have become very disappointed in the actions of members of the student body over the last several months. I feel as if I’m leaving a different Bethel than I entered into – and not in a good way. I want to be clear that, although imperfect as any human-led organization is, my frustration is not with the Bethel administration, but students and their choices.

       

In my final year at Bethel alone, I’ve become aware of many aggressive actions different individuals have taken on campus that target students of color, LGBTQ students and women through public displays, harassment, tearing down event posters and more. Moreover, students aren’t the only impacted –faculty and staff are affected by these actions as well. Bethel is a community. I fear that students who are serving their fears and insecurities over Christ and others are breaking our community.

As Christians, we are called to respect others. Christ calls us to treat others as we would like to be treated (Matthew 7). Paul calls us to be devoted to each other in love and honoring others above ourselves (Romans 12). Paul challenges us to value others above ourselves in humility (Philippians 2). These are only three of many passages that preach these values. Of course, not every member of the Bethel community is a practicing Christian, but religion shouldn’t be the source of morality. There still is a clear “right” and “wrong” on this issue. It is never respectful or loving to harass others, disrespect gatherings of those different than yourself, and communicate messages of hate. Brothers and sisters of Bethel, I urge you to live humbly, treat others well, emulate the love of God and communicate in a mature and Christ-honoring way.

Moreover, we are called to not judge others – which is particularly applicable to harassment and aggression towards LGBTQ students. This idea is riddled all around scripture.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7, ESV).

I could write a book with everything I do wrong – it would probably end up being an encyclopedia set. But what’s beautiful is that God is the only judge I need to worry about. Where I am with Him is between Him and myself only. He is the only one who gets to decide what is and isn’t considered sin. He sees me at the same level as anyone else. I’m no better or worse than anyone.

There is no clause in scripture that says the love of God belongs to only Christians, to only white people, to only men, to only heterosexual people, to only Americans, to only conservatives, etc. You don’t have to march with or even support Black Lives Matter to respect and love people of color. You don’t have to support gay marriage or believe being LGBTQ is not a choice to be respectful to and love the people of the LGBTQ community. You don’t have believe that the wage gap exist or that sexism is alive to treat women with respect and love. You don’t have to be liberal to love and treat liberals with respect. You don’t have to be conservative to love and treat conservatives with respect. Nothing you believe as a human being, and especially as a Christian, should stop you from treating any human being with respect.

My biggest plea is this: when you see an individual, you should not only see their gender, race, sexual orientation, or political party; you should see their humanity. Each person is created in the image of God. Each person is composed of hundreds of things – their likes, their passions, their strengths, their history, etc. Stop limiting who they are to one or a few societal labels. Seek to understand each and every piece of them. When we start seeing individuals and groups of people as the enemy, we are losing sight of our true battle.  

To students who are struggling with big social issues our nation is currently facing, I recommend asking questions, taking challenging classes, sparking up conversations, digging into the Word, and removing any acquired bias and past influence.  

Apology from a Democrat

As a human, I am feeling so worn down by the political division I see in our country. I see it in the news, on social media, and in the communities around me. We have come to a time where we cannot have meaningful, fruitful, bipartisan conversation anymore, and I honestly have to admit my role in that.

(1) I am sorry for caring so much for the dehumanized that I actually dehumanized you. It’s pretty crappy that I want all people to be treated with respect, but have failed to love you well. You are human. You are valuable. You are so much more than your political views. You deserve care and respect like anyone else, and I am sorry for when I have treated you otherwise or have thought otherwise without saying.

(2) Conservative women against the marches: I am sorry that you feel alienated. I could take this moment to share my opinion, but instead I want to say that it’s a shame that some women and men promoting equality do not treat you with equality. It is a shame that there is so much miscommunication and misrepresentation of peoples’ beliefs that you are put down for it. I do see where you’re coming from even if I do not agree with you. You’re not less of a woman. You’re not less of a human. You’re not less of anything. We just don’t see eye to eye. As a pro-choice yet anti-abortion person, I can respect that a movement that promotes equality but that is also tied to pro-choice ideas will result in women who cannot stand with something that supports potential fetus’ death. I can respect that you may not think equality is in jeopardy if you have not experienced it yourself. I just hope that those who marched can seek to understand why you feel the way you do, and I hope that you will do the same to understand the women and men who did.

(3) I am sorry for letting the quality of our relationship be determined by a small part of your earthly identity. This is such a politically charged season that we have started to see each other’s political views as their identity. I am Christian. I am a woman. I am an environmentalist. I am a student. I am a daughter. I am a friend. You too have all of these beautiful things about yourself that have nothing to do with your political views. I am sorry for when I have failed to see past that. Your political views are not a determining factor in whether or not we can be friends and support each other. I am sorry for connecting your political views to your value and ability to support me.

(4) I am sorry for rejecting your beliefs without trying to understand why you believe them. The reason I believe what I do is because of (1) a lot of prayer, (2) a lot of critical thinking, and (3) viewing the gospel as a story that is focused on restoring the relationships intended in the Garden of Eden instead of just individual salvation. I see that in myself, and I get frustrated when others assume that I was brainwashed into it. Thus, I deserve to give you the same chance. I want to know what drives your thought process. And to be honest, we can all be looking at the same landscape from a different standpoint and see things differently. We honestly all are looking at the same thing, but none of us can actually see the whole picture. BUT it is important to ask them what they are seeing. It brings their beliefs to life. It lets you see why they have come to the conclusions they have come to instead of just judging their views as they are.

(5) I am sorry for the position that this past election put you in. I honestly do not know what I would have done if I was in your position. As a conservative, you had two choices: vote for someone whose policies were completely opposite of what you wanted, or vote for policies you supported but were voiced by a crazy person. As someone who does not like President Trump’s character or policies, I can say that he put conservative voters, especially Christian ones, in a tough position. I am sorry that people think you’re like him if you voted for his policies but did not like his character. So many people had to reluctantly vote for him, and I respect that–especially if you’re honest about his character flaws as an imperfect human being.

(6) I am sorry for how you are presented in the media. Why is it that our media portrays every side as radical and crazy? Someone needs to drain that swamp and make media non-partisan again.

(7) I am sorry for not seeking the commonality between us. There are so many beautiful things we could bond over, yet I have written you off at times because of our political differences. You’re so much more than your political views. Your morality (and mine) does not depend on who you voted for. Especially in this super tough election for a lot of people.

(8) I am sorry that we have been unable to overcome our differences to unite as Christ’s body. Christ told us to unify as a body. I am one of many who advocate for unity among divisive denominations, yet I have not necessarily advocated for unity among political divisions.

(9) I am sorry that I have channeled my frustration at you rather than getting involved and making a difference. Think about how beautiful this country would be if each and every one of us volunteered in a cause we cared about. Think about how many of our problems would be healed if we did more than complain about them. I promise that I will do my best to involve myself and channel my frustration into action. I hope you do the same–we need passionate people in this world who do more than say smart-sounding things.

I hope that instead of shutting down when we speak about these things, that we can not only hear the words of the other person, but that we seek to understand the thought process behind those words. I hope that we can look at human issues without giving them a political meaning so that we fight for justice for the oppressed without putting a party’s stamp on it. I truly hope that our country takes the next four years with grace and unity, while also standing up with respect. I truly hope that in the midst of disagreement, respect overrides hatred. 

 

Transformed: No Longer a Christian

I am sitting here, completely humbled by the Lord. I sit here wallowing in my sin of creating God in my image, rather than letting His image create and shape me. He is not my God. He is God and I am His creation. He is not what or who I want Him to be. He is who He is, and I am who He says I am. Christians, I beg of you. Take a breath and realize that our limited and restrictive understanding and creation of God has resulted in the huge gap that separates the God of Christianity and the God of the Bible. I ask you, if the God of Christianity looked in a mirror, would He see the God of the Bible in the reflection?

I would argue that my religion has grossly ruined God for me. I have come to the realization that the limited, controlled vision of who God is has caused me to misunderstand His character to the point of unbeliefs and deep anger. We take the attributes of God that we like and forget the rest because we care more about our pride than our transformation. We want a ticket to heaven, not a journey of reformation. I do not believe in the God of Christianity. For the God of Christianity has been used to support malicious acts of hatred, murderous crusades, racism and sexism, bible thumping, hypocrisy, and a disgusting order of priorities in the name of the “truth”. Yet, the God of the Bible continuously rebuked the religious, and He would do the same today. The church would probably kick Jesus out of their service today if He walked in. He would be too revolutionary, too forgiving, and too humbling.

God is not on the side of conventional Christianity today, I would argue. He does not care what you do if your heart is not transformed. For if your heart is transformed, Christians, you would not do what you’ve been doing. Let me pause and confess that if my heart was transformed the way God desired it to be, I would not be the person I am either. Transformed hearts naturally do the things God has called us to, but putting the law of God above the heart of God is a form of idolatry that I refuse to continue to fall into. Go to church. Take communion. Read your Bible. Follow the Sabbath. But do so because your changed heart hungers to follow God, not because you’re supposed to.

Now, I believe if God was sitting across from me right now drinking black coffee with a sprinkle of cinnamon (because that’s just the way coffee should be), He would be commanding me to do things much different than the church has taught me. He would tell me to love people His way, not the church’s way. He would tell me to stop being God and deciding who is good enough and who is not. He would tell me to open the door to all people, because I myself am so undeserving of His forgiveness. He would tell me to greet the poor, the oppressed, the immigrant, the woman, the minority with open arms and a sacrificed heart. He would tell me to give up all my posessions for those who have nothing. He would tell me to be an agent of reconciliation for those who have been beaten down by the church and by Christianity. He would tell me to kill off my pride, realize how much I do not deserve grace, and extend grace to others. He would tell me to get over myself, and get out there in the battlefield to be a vessel of healing rather than a vessel of hatred.

In the process of writing my exegesis paper on Luke 13:10-17 (when Jesus heals the crippled woman on the Sabbath), I realized that Christians are more like the rebuked Pharisee leaders today than like Christ Himself. He does not want us to just see His life as Christmas and Easter, He wants us to look at the life He lived, the ministry He created, and the footsteps He left for us to actually figure out what it means to follow Him. He did not just come to die for our sins, He came to serve the sick and the marginalized, free people from all types of bondage, and show us that actions mean nothing if your heart isn’t right. He called the religious hypocrites and said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). 

And if Christians out there are angry about the words I’m saying, it’s honestly just the words of Christ coming true. He said that the biggest source of persecution for His followers would be from the religious (Luke 12). Why? Because He ignored cultural barriers and religious customs. He did not care that the religious hated Him because He did what was actually right in the sight of God. He wasn’t killed for being a good guy, He was killed for His revolutionary redefinition of faith, after all. Christ was not safe. He was not simple. So why is Christianity so easy? Why it is cushy and comfortable?

This season has shown so much division. I see people fighting for their needs with their whole heart, and then other denying that their needs even exist. I see a group of people claiming the name of God, but too selfish to love other sacrificially. We are supposed to be living a life of great sacrifice, righteous rebellion, and selfless service. Yet we care more about our checkbooks than our neighbor’s starvation. We should be reaching out to today’s marginalized. Christ reached out to women, the sick, the disabled, the adulterers, the sinners, the tax collectors. So why won’t we do the same? Stop preaching “love your neighbor” if you care more about your cushy lifestyle than the well-being of others. Get off your butt and help people. Help those who are being persecuted for immigrating to escape poverty and war. Help those who are following other religions and being harassed for it–they won’t know Christ if you ignore them, will they? Help the disabled. Help racial minorities get treated as one of God’s children. I mean, for crying out loud, no one chooses the body they’re born in. Stop perpetuating cycles of violent racism and incorrect preconceived notions. This ridiculous hierarchy we’ve created is damaging and beyond out of God’s desire for His children.

Stop trying to play God. It’s only going to create more problems. Stop trying to be in control. Be a servant. Anaylze whether you’re following the God of the Bible or the God of Christianity. Stop being so afraid to be like Christ. Stop being restricted by your religion that you’re blind to who you’re following. Stop following a political party more than the God who died for you. Stop this mission of greed and be a leader in community, healing, and truth. Stop being a barrier for God’s ministry and be a part of it.

 

I believe with my whole heart that, when I prayed for God to break my heart for what breaks His, He called me to a life of sacrifice. I believe that you cannot be a follower of the God of the Bible by living the way that I have. You cannot sit in silence. Your blessings are not for you, they’re supposed to be allocated sacrificially to those who have less. You cannot live comfortably when other are suffering. There will be no justice, no peace, no reconciliation, no life, no abundance if a small percentage of God’s people are comfortable and the rest are fighting to survive or fighting for equality. Why won’t we create the world that God desires for us? Why can’t we just stop trying to climb the ladder to “success”, and lift people up instead?

If you are curious where all of this passionate, really kind of crazy theology is coming from, it’s not from me. It’s honestly from God. This spewed out, imperfect blog is just the result of how God has been changing me and what He has been teaching me for the last year. On November 13, I had an anxiety attack (which is a fairly common occurance for me) in my boyfriend’s truck in the parking lot in front of my building. I broke down in tears and began yelling at God. I was mad that He hadn’t protected me from sexual harassment at different times in my life. I was mad about the way I have been treated by different authority figures in the past few months. I was mad that my anxiety was controlling me no matter how hard I fought against it. I was mad about how much I care about things that Christians are too prideful to do something about. I was mad that people were sinning in the name of God, and bringing Hell to earth instead of Heaven to earth. And I let it all out. And I realized that I wasn’t angry with God, I was angry with my terrible view of who God was. My wonderful boyfriend (okay, roll your eyes) prayed for me. He talked with me. He sat with me. And I realized how God has used him in my life already by showing me patience, by sitting with me in the muck, and by caring about me as I am instead of as I hope to be someday. With his help and God’s help I was able to re-commit my life to Christ, declaring myself as a clean slate. I told God that I wanted to start over. Forget the Christianese and the customs, and just study the character of God. I told Him that I wanted to actually discover who He is instead of follow a religion. I told Him that I truly want to go through the messy process of changing my heart and actually follow Christ instead of my created version of God.

I hope you do the same. I hope that we all realize that we’re just a tiny part in God’s will. We are not creators, we are created. We are not religious, we are children. My true hope every time I write a blog is to make people think, not make people agree. So, whether you’re mad about what I’ve said or convicted or in agreement or think that this was all heresy, let me know your thoughts.

But Let God’s light and truth shine, not yours.

 

Don’t Leave The Box of Christian Basics

I recently overheard a conversation in which someone said that a Christian woman who took an unpopular stance on a controversial topic should get back to the basics of Christianity. This got me thinking about the Church, about Christ Himself, and about the ultimate question of our religion: What does it mean to be a Christian? I recently sat down with my Biblical Theology of Reconciliation professor to discuss my exegesis paper, which is focused on Luke 13:10-17, in which Jesus “breaks” Sabbath to heal a crippled woman. My professor and I discussed how I plan to use the passage to question this: Why did Jesus break a “law”? What it gets down to is this: Was Jesus’ mission to display following the Law or to display the heart and soul of God the Father?

Christ’s Character

I think the thing I admire the most about the man of Jesus Christ in the gospels is that He was extremely revolutionary, controversial, and challenging. I mean, He didn’t get killed because He was too religious, He was killed because He spoke the truth that made people feel uncomfortable. He redefined our faith, and people didn’t like it, so they crucified Him. He aligned His entire ministry with the hearts of the marginalized, the sinners, and the poor. He “broke” Sabbath to heal a woman who had been in bondage for 18 years, while telling the religious that they were hypocritical and too focused on the law. He declared His deity, angering the entire government. He forgave adulterers, tax collectors, and murderers while standing in the complete authority of His Father. He blessed the poor, the meek, the suffering while speaking against the rich and greedy. He walked in love, not in law.

His character was focused on getting people to focus on walking completely in the sacrificial love of God rather than the rigid law. He showed us that it doesn’t matter if you follow the Old Testament laws to a T if your heart is not fully surrendered to His mission of caring for those who need it. The gospel isn’t about redeeming sinners, it’s about restoring the relationship God first intended in the Garden. He came to re-establish a way to walk with Him, to be unashamed with Him, and to be in paradise with Him.

Our Mission

Our mission is not to stick to the story of birth, death, and resurrection. Our mission is to walk the steps of Jesus Christ that He left for us during His ministry. Our mission is to eat with sinners, bless the marginalized, and sacrifice for others. Our mission is not to go to church on Sundays, live comfortably, and try to tell less white lies. Our mission is to let go of everything so that those who have nothing are blessed.

Application to Today

Don’t stick to the basics. Read scripture. Find truth. Find the love of God. Speak for those whose voices have been smothered. Practice sacrificial love. Find something you’re passionate about and throw yourself into it. Be controversial. Live outside the box. Follow in the steps of our revolutionary Jesus. Align your heart with the heart of Christ, not the law. Be a disciple, not a pharisee.

The View of a Liberal Christian

This is a difficult time for me, when it comes to politics. I have had a hard time having discussions with people in my circle about politics and similar issues because I realize I’m a minority as a liberal Christian, and most people (myself included) have a hard time having an open mind when it comes to opposing views. I know that many people will not agree with this article, and that is okay with me. My point of this is not to change your mind, but to get you to think. Also, a disclaimer: I’m not trying to get you to vote for Hillary, I’m talking about the Christian argument for liberalism. What’s interesting is that Jesus Christ was so radical and counter-cultural, yet Christians are so uncomfortable speaking out about things that go against the Christian majority. The church needs to be a place of healthy, open, respectful conversation, no matter which side is right. The church needs to be able to have functional conversations and be a place where people can experience peace and acceptance through different views.

The following issues are some of the central issues of each party:

Economy

Liberals call for liveable minimum wages and progressive taxation (higher taxes for higher incomes). If we really want to help the poor, we should be giving to them, helping them, volunteering with them, etc. But we’re not. They’re still suffering. There’s still a huge gap between the rich and poor. There are many, many people in poverty. So if we’re not giving from our own accord, the government should help. Doesn’t Christ call us to give away all of our possessions to follow Him (Matthew 19)? Doesn’t Christ bless the poor and the merciful (Matthew 5)? Doesn’t Christ call us to render what is the nation’s to the nation, and what is Christ’s to Christ? The goal of our life should not be to climb the ladder, but to love others without holding back. The problem is that we don’t like to be told by the government to be generous, but that’s really what this is about. Paying higher taxes to support the government that provides services to us (especially the poor) should be something Christians are in favor of. We should be supporting sacrifice for the good of others, but that’s not what it’s about.

Why shouldn’t those who cannot afford education be able to have a livable minimum wage? Many of these people have been oppressed by social inequality through sub-par schools, isolation in certain neighborhoods (suburbs originally excluded non-whites and forced others into cities), etc. Many of these people are immigrants who are here to support their families, often in jobs Americans don’t want anyway, and also pay taxes. Many of these people’s life choices have affected their opportunities, but it is not our job to judge, it is our job to be generous. Yes, it would strain our businesses a little bit, but most of these businesses are large and corporate businesses and should be willing to sacrifice a little profit for human needs. Christ, again, calls us to sacrifice.

“The gospel will always be an offense to the rich and powerful, because it is the death of their riches and power” (God of the Oppressed, James Cone).

Social and Human Ideas

I will always be on the side of those who do all they can to support the less fortunate and the marginalized. People who cannot afford health care or food or shelter need to be supported. **I fully admit Obamacare is not working well at the time and needs to be improved.**  As Christians, we are to support our brothers and sisters in Christ. In Christ, we are all one as well. We should absolutely be supporting candidates who support equality. We deserve equality, and we should be treating each other with unwavering love. The only way to do that is to see people the way God sees them– worthy of love through Christ’s sacrifice. No matter what their sin is, no matter how different from yourself they are, they deserve to be treated well. There needs to be equality and equal treatment of men and women, all races and ethnicities, all lifestyle choices, etc. We are all one in Christ and we are to love all others, even our enemies (not saying men and women are enemies of each other, and whites and blacks are enemies– mostly saying to love those who have hurt you).

Reconciliation cannot happen without justice (James Cone), and justice cannot happen without equality. Just because it may be better now than it was 50 years ago does not mean it was the way it was intended. The gospel message isn’t about saving us from sin, it’s about restoring us to the relationship with God that was intended in the Garden of Eden. We must push for equality and justice and be people who recognize that we are all oppressed if one is oppressed. We are connected and we are one, and we need to stand in that truth together.

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).

This piece of scripture below is an example of what the early Church did. What would our world look like if Christians lived sacrificially? Would the Church be growing? Our biggest tool of evangelism is service.

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

 Acts 2:43-47

Military

Liberals call for a decrease in military spending. I believe this is the right thing to do because we should be people of peace, not war. The amount we spend on war is more than enough to be able to defend ourselves in an emergency, and I appreciate those who are willing to protect our country– I truly do. But our military focus should be on being prepared. We should be seeking peace-making strategies that do not include occupying countries, attacking others, and causing deaths of innocent citizens. Matthew 26:52 says, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.'”

Military conquests that are selfish and in the name of becoming a more powerful country is not what the Lord calls us to do. We absolutely are to stand up for those who need our help, but war should not be the answer. We should seek other solutions extensively first– providing relief to those who need it, offer a place of freedom for those who need it, and work with the oppressing nations. We are to give to those who beg from us and treat others with God’s love no matter what. We should be giving everything we can to those who need help and taking them in. Christ takes us in and helps us when we don’t deserve it, so why won’t we take in and help those who do need help?

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Luke 6:27-31

Gay Marriage

MOST democrats agree with allowing gay marriage. Ooh, this one is tough. Stick with me. The problem isn’t that gay people are creating lifetime commitments, the problem is the American view of marriage is not the biblical view of marriage. Biblical marriage should be viewed separately from legal marriage. In fact, legal marriage shouldn’t be called marriage. I believe everyone, hetero or homosexual have the rights to tax breaks and other legal rights obtained through legal marriage. I do not believe everyone should have the right to biblical marriage, including many heterosexual relationships. In my opinion, you cannot be biblically married without following the meaning of marriage in scripture. It is a covenant, not a contract. It is a commitment, not something that can be easily ended.

Therefore, based on America’s definition of marriage, anyone should be allowed to be legally married. The problem really is that few are truly biblically married. Another problem is that Christ defines biblical marriage as between a man and a woman. Any sexual activity outside of biblical marriage is a sin– which includes so many heterosexual relationships that practice pre-marital sex. Yes, homosexuality is a sin, but it’s no worse than two heterosexual people having sex outside of biblical marriage. So here’s the point: based on what legal marriage means (contract, governmental benefits, etc.), gay people should absolutely have the right to this commitment. The Lord is the judge of each and every one of us, we are merely his hands and feet to deliver His light and love to all people on this planet.

Abortion

Liberals tend to support Roe v. Wade. IMPORTANT: pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. I do not support abortion. Repeat: I do not support abortion. But I don’t think the government or a religious proportion of the nation has the right to tell others that they cannot have control over their own body. It’s their choice. And unless you’re willing to help those who have children unplanned and cannot afford it with food stamps, welfare, equality, etc., you have no right to say they must have that child. Until pro-life is truly pro-life, meaning they support lives not just births, I cannot get on that train. Christians should not expect non-Christians to live the same way as them, and should not force them to do so since they do not share their faith (1 Cor. 5:9-11). Also isn’t it interesting that those who want less government regulation prefer to control women’s choices about abortion, and those who want more government regulation want the government to step out of this issue? Ironic, in my opinion (for both sides).

Check this out: http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/planned-parenthood-means-fewer-abortions

Planned parenthood has decreased the abortion rate from 62/1000 births in 1991 to 27/1000 births in 2013 because of access to birth control and sex education (and most planned parenthood sites do NOT perform abortion). The best thing we can do as Christians to stop abortion is to (1) evangelize and (2) to try to provide resources to prevent unplanned pregnancies. We honestly cannot expect this world to not have sex out of marriage (in fact, lots of Christians do too), and when we push our views on others, that does more harm than good in the name of the Lord.

Death Penalty 

I don’t know, quite honestly, why any Christian is okay with the death penalty. This argument will be short. “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either” (Luke 6). Does Christ call us to murder murderers? Does He say to rob the robbers? No–He says to treat people the way we desire to be treated. He asks us to forgive. Yes, people must pay for their actions, but we absolutely should not be taking their lives from them. It is hypocritical, and not what Christ would call us to do.

Government Regulation

Liberals argue that government regulations are needed to protect citizens. Maybe my view on this reflects my view of humanity. We are a broken world, and without being led, many people won’t do the right thing. We need government regulation to provide for those who need help. We need government regulation to incentivize people to treat others well despite traits they were born with or lifestyles they live. We need government regulation to make sure businesses and people are ethical. We need government regulation to protect peoples’ freedoms and promote a high quality of life. Because of the way so many people live today and who they serve, we need more than morals to help our country live well.

Government regulation keeps people safe from industrial chemicals (Love Canal). It helps control food prices. It protects consumers who don’t know any better from the forces of big business who function to make a profit. It protects our bank accounts and gives us many services. It creates and enforces laws of a better life. The problem here isn’t that government provides good things, it’s that people don’t like being told what to do, even if they agree with it. People would rather make the wrong choice than be told to make the right choice. Remember that God is ultimately in charge, and He is in control of our government. We are to follow our government (as long as they do not force us to deny our faith)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (Romans 13:1-2)

Immigration

I guess I’ll just say two things:

This is a nation of immigrants, and we are called to love our neighbor as ourself (other neighbors meaning humans, not Americans). We are lucky to be born here, but many others are suffering because of where they were born–we need to be sacrificially welcoming and helpful to these people.

Here’s my recent blog about immigration: What You’re Missing About Immigration

Second Amendment

I agree with Hillary Clinton’s statement in the last debate when she said she supports the second amendment, but would like to close the loopholes in gun shows and online gun shopping. I feel like it’s straightforward to want a safer country by doing thorough work with people buying guns, no matter where they buy one. If conservatives are okay with background checks for those who buy guns in a store, they should be okay with background checks for those who buy guns at a gun show. This one really isn’t a Christian argument, I guess.

The Environment (I added this one for fun– Envi Sci Major here…)

 

Nature displays the glory of God, provides us many resources, and is a place that supports all of creation (not just humans). Of course, humans are the only ones made in the image of God, but God cares about all of creation. Creation worships the Lord and displays His majesty. We need to care for our earth so that it continues to run as intended, so future generations have resources and can enjoy its benefits, and so that we can fulfill our duties as earth’s overseers. God created Adam to care for His creation, and we must continue this command of the Lord’s. So, yes, the government should limit destructive activities, especially the ones that affect human health (such as Superfund sites with chemical leaks, water pollution, and air pollution).

 

This is my passion, and I could discuss it forever, but since this blog is already super long, I’ll control myself.

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In the end, here’s the main point: Christian does not mean conservative. You may disagree with me. All I ask is that you open your mind and realize that there is not one road and that you should not judge Christians with different political views– they have reasons for them and have probably thought things through deeply, like I have. What it comes down to for me is that our Constitution is different from the Bible and I cannot push my faith into a document and into a country that is not biblically based. When we see other humans as the enemy (whether it’s Republicans, Democrats, Hillary, or Trump) we are distracted from fighting the real enemy, which is Satan.

I guess I believe in the separation of church and state and see the way to apply my faith to politics different than many Christians.

Again, any questions can be directed to me personally through a message. I will have an open mind with anyone who has an open mind.