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.

______________________________________________________

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.

WWJD?: Black Lives Matter

I’m beginning a blog “series” about controversial issues and addressing them using biblical views and my opinion. I’m preparing myself for lots of discussions coming from this, message me and ask me questions if you disagree– these conversations are important!

So, I wanted to start with Black Lives Matter, since it’s such an important issue in my community at this time (look at current Bethel University events if you’re confused). It’s difficult to speak about this as a white woman without true experience on the matter, but nothing will change if conversation doesn’t spread to all people: between blacks and blacks, blacks and whites, whites and whites, and all of humanity. The issue of Black Lives Matter should affect all of us. If there is injustice among our brothers and sisters, we should all be disturbed and advocating for justice.

The main thing I want to highlight in all of these coming blogs is the disturbing idea that history–actions of those who are long gone–heavily influences our culture, our society, and our views, whether or not we like them. I mean, slavery in the U.S. ended in 1865, and many of us are disgusted by the ideas of that time, yet we still deal with discrimination and implicit biases. We all fight these biases that we may or may not consciously agree with, but we were taught them and they do exist.

So, getting to the topic, what would Jesus say about Black Lives Matter? One thing that’s really important to mention is that Black Lives Matter is not saying all lives don’t matter. Black Lives Matter is emphasizing that black lives are just as important as other lives. Black Christians are trying to show that black Christians, like white Christians were created in the image of God with equal value. Yes, all lives matter, but this is a group who is making sure people understand that there is a disproportional amount of discrimination toward black lives. Good old Macklemore says in White Privilege II, “Black Lives Matter, to use an analogy, is like if… if there was a subdivision and a house was on fire. The fire department wouldn’t show up and start putting water on all the houses because all houses matter. They would show up and they would turn their water on the house that was burning because that’s the house that needs the help the most.”

Who did Christ come for? The marginalized. “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17, NIV). In context, this is when Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners– those who were marginalized in the society at the time. No, I am not comparing black people to sinners (we are all sinners), I am comparing marginalized people to marginalized people. The beatitudes, when Jesus was teaching on the mountain includes blessings on the marginalized (Matthew 5).

God is also just. He will bring peace and justice to those who do not have those things. Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him” (NIV). Jesus himself was a radical person. He stood up for adulterers (John 8), tax collectors (Luke 19), the poor (Mark 10), and others. Although these were not race related, it is showing how deeply Jesus cared for the marginalized. He is the doctor for the sick, not the healthy. Church is supposed to be a hospital for the broken, not a museum for the righteous (Jefferson Bethke).

The most important pieces of scripture, I think, are Paul’s writings about Gentiles:

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'” (Romans 10:12, NIV).

“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, NIV).

“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin” (Romans 3:9, NIV).

The color of your skin doesn’t mean anything when it comes to your value. The color of your skin should not determine what job you can have, when you can live, where you can go to school, etc. In fact, Jesus was from the Middle East– he wasn’t white. If Jesus were here in the U.S., what would or implicit ideas about him be if we just saw him from a distance? What limits would he face? What opportunities would be extra-difficult for him to get?

So, yes, police lives absolutely matter. Hispanic and latino lives matter. Asian lives matter. White lives matter. All lives do matter. But right now, although many groups of people deal with discrimination, the discrimination black lives face needs to be given the attention deserved. Right now, Black Lives Matter needs to protest until true reconciliation is reached. Right now, we need to talk about these issues until equality is reached.

So, Black Lives Matter, I stand with you, as a fellow human, as a Christian, and as someone who believes in all forms of equality, respect, and decency.

 

What You’re Missing About Immigration // When I Walked in Their Shoes

Disclaimer: this is not a proponent of illegal immigration, but a proponent on understanding immigration and re-evaluating the current legal immigration process. Also, of all immigrants, only 26% are undocumented.

After my experience with migrant workers in Nicaragua–literally walking alongside them as they illegally crossed the border to Costa Rica to find work– and taking classes with a social justice emphasis (Biblical Theology of Reconciliation, Families in a Cross-Cultural Perspective, Environmental Politics), I have felt compelled to write about what I see many Americans missing out on in the issue of immigration. Some things that I have learned have the power to make people think deeply and have absolutely put me in my place. You may disagree, but here are things I have learned:

1. I do not support illegal immigration, but the current policy makes it extremely difficult for people to immigrate legally. So, we need to change that. The following NPR podcast is 13 minutes of your life you won’t regret: Polish Family Heart Broken Due to Poor American Immigration Laws. This is about a couple, Janina and Tony, who are both from Poland and met and married in the US. Tony is a legal US citizen, but Janina came with permission from the US government to avoid communism growing in Poland. Once the US government decided that she no longer needed asylum from Poland, they denied her request (1995). However, they did not deport her, until she got a letter in the mail in 2007 and told her she had two days to leave the country. This was AFTER she had married a US citizen, had a family, had her own business, etc. in this country. She had no warning, packed up and left. In 2011, her 10 year ban from the US was lifted after a lot of time, money, and legal help, and she returned to her family, but not without scarring. Our immigration system is set up in a way that is slow, does not consider established families and businesses (in a country that seems to put forth family values), and is unconnected to the actual issues going on. Legal immigration needs to be more accessible, quick, and personal. We spend so much time on trying to “catch” undocumented immigrants, and very little time on our policies, or even helping countries improve their economies to decrease the need for immigration to the US.

2. A fact to put you in your place a little: unless you are 100% Native American you come from a line of immigrants, either hundreds of years ago or only a couple years ago. Sorry if that was a bit sassy, but it’s true! I come from at least two different immigrant groups on my mom’s side (Polish and Italian), and who knows on my dad’s side. How dare I speak against immigration, when my blood originates in countries other than the US? For crying out loud, some of our ancestors were part of the destruction of Native American tribes via war, famine, or disease. European Americans, like myself, were the cause of most of the problems like slavery, forced assimilation of Native Americans, forced Christianization of Native Americans and Mexicans, etc.

3. Americans take turns shutting out groups of immigrants, and we never seem to learn from it. In the 1800s, there was discrimination against Native Americans, African Americans, and Mexicans. In 1875, the US actually banned the entry of Chinese, Japanese, and Mongolian immigrants. In 1878, the US Supreme Court Ruled Chinese immigrants as ineligible for citizenship. In 1901, the US finally allowed citizenship to five Native American tribes, but in 1902, Chinese immigration was made permanently illegal. There was detention in Angel Island of Asian immigrants in 1910. Basically, there has been discrimination against Native Americans, Chinese Americans, Asain Americans, Mexican Americans, Japanese Americans (there were even containment camps), and even Irish Americans. It’s ridiculous.

How can we say it was ridiculous for the US to do it in the past, but keep doing it today? How don’t we shutter when people say terrible things about specifically Mexican Immigrants and Muslim Immigrants? Why do we condemn historical actions, yet repeat them today?

4. Fun Fact: the US took land from Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. We took CA, half of NM, most of AZ, UT, NV, and parts of both CO and WY. We literally took their land after attacking them in a war, and now we refuse to let them here. Land isn’t ours to own or claim. We’re around for such a minuscule amount of time, we should just realize that we’re basically renting this place for free from God. We should not exclude people from a place that may be safer for them–politically, physically, monetarily. Especially because it wasn’t ours in the first place.

5. Most immigrants are not taking jobs Americans want. They’re taking jobs we don’t want–jobs that are necessary. Our economy would actually suffer without immigrants. Dr. Nijole V. Benokraitis writes, “Proponents [of immigration] argue that many immigrants provide numerous economic benefits for their host countries. They clean homes and business offices, toil as nannies and busboys, serve as nurses’ aides and pick fruit–all at low wages that most American-born workers don’t want. Accounting for 5% of the 148 million workers, unauthorized immigrants comprise 21% of all farm workers, 16% of the workforce in cleaning occupation, and 30% of those in construction and food preparation industries.” It’s interesting to me that those who tend to be against immigrations are those who are blessed enough to be in white-collar jobs. They’re doing jobs that most Americans are either blessed to be too educated for or have too much pride for.

6. Most immigrants, believe it or not, are contributing. Most pay taxes! And they’re also not eligible for things like welfare, Medicare, ObamaCare, etc. and are not mooching off of citizen taxpayers. According to Dr. Nijole V. Benokraitis, the author of “Marriages and Families: Changes, Choices, and Constraints”, more than 90% of undocumented immigrant men work and most pay payroll and sales taxes. In addition, she writes that they’re not eligible for benefits such as welfare, Medicaid, and food stamps. Actually, 75% of undocumented immigrants contribute $7 billion to Social Security and about $1.5 billion to Medicare each year, but they are not eligible to receive the benefits from those things. She also writes that,

“Many scholars argue that on balance and in the long run, immigrants provide more benefits [to the US] than costs. For examples, they constitute an important labor force for an aging (and primarily white) America that will require many workers to support Social Security and Medicare payments for the elderly. Without large numbers of new workers, many funding programs for the elderly will be cut or decreased, requiring millions of older Americans to work well into their 70s.”

Although undocumented immigrants do cause some costs to the country, such as the possible reduction of the standard of living and the overloading of schools, they also bring in more than they take, and I don’t think we could function the way we do without them.

7. Christians are called to love thy neighbor. News flash: Jesus doesn’t say “Love thy neighbor unless they’re _____”. Fill in the blank: Muslim, Jewish, Mexican, Black, White, Asian, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc., poor, rich, Democrat, Republican, whatever. For crying out loud, Jesus sacrificed his life for even the lowest of us (myself included in that, by the way). Do you think he cared more about money, or helping a family find jobs and survive? Do you think he cared about how much he paid in taxes (He said to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to the Lord what is the Lord’s) or did he care about giving all we have to the poor? Blessed are those who give all they have for the sake of others. For some reason, Americans see success as monetary, when it’s about loving others and spreading the kingdom of the Lord. Each one of these immigrants is a person, they are as important as you are. Many of them may not have been born into a family as blessed as you. They are not numbers, they are not enemies. And honestly, any human you see as an enemy is the devil trying to distract you from fighting the true enemy–him. The longer we pit ourselves against one another, the longer we let him win. Of course, God will ultimately win, but it is up to us to decide who will win the little daily battles and the bigger social ones.

 

 

If you disagree (or agree) with me on anything, I’d love to hear from you; but please do not comment on the post– just privately message me or email me! (amanda.babcock3@gmail.com)

The Beauty of Death

These past few weeks have been filled with anxious heartache, vulnerable moments with God, and painful waiting. As many know, my grandfather, Paul Maro, passed away on Wednesday, July 27. For a person with anxiety, the waiting during the hospice period was brutal. In April, I was told that he wouldn’t make it through while I was in Costa Rica. In May, I was told he had two weeks left. Since then, I’ve been waiting. Six weeks of waiting for the Lord to bring Him to peace.

God has been forcing me to learn to praise him in the hard circumstances. I’ve always been surprisingly successful at finding the good in bad situations, but I’ve never been good at praising God through the bad situations. He’s been teaching me that He is in control, I’m not. He’s been teaching me that even if my timing seems better, He knows the entire situation in and out, so His timing will always be better. He’s been teaching me that as people suffer, He is good through it. I will never fully understand things the way He does, but He is good and He deserves praise even though I am drowning.

Now that my grandpa is gone, as difficult as it is to grieve, it is a celebration. It’s not only a celebration of the life he lived and the man he was, but a celebration of his passing to heaven. People keep telling me, “He’s in a better place.” Part of me hears that and rolls my eyes at the cheesiness of it, but it’s true. He is in a better place. He has a new healthy body. He is free from pain. He is free from stage four lung cancer. He is free from sin. He is free from rejection. He is free from all the evils and chains of this world. I’m not gonna lie, part of me is jealous, but I’ll wait my turn.

The beauty in death is that we aren’t done once we go–we’re just beginning. Death is only the beginning of eternity, and that’s something I can praise God for. I praise Him for sending His son to die for my grandpa so that he may be in heaven on this day. I praise Him for seeking personal relationships with us so that a death can be a “see ya later”. I praise Him for His overwhelming peace, comfort, and stability. He is the Rock– the only thing that stays put when everything else is crashing around me.

I went to visit my grandpa in good ‘ol Gwinner, North Dakota about two weeks ago, only 10 days before he passed. I asked him, “Hey, where didn’t you get to go that you want me to go for you? I’ll buy a plane ticket tomorrow.” His response was, “Where I want you to go, I’m going first. And I’ll tell you how wonderful it is.” That’s something I can honor– all my grandpa wants from me is to follow Christ so that I may be with him in heaven one day. And you know what? The time between today and when I die is nothing compared to eternity in heaven with my grandpa.

So Lord, I praise You for death. I praise You for new bodies, the loss of pain, and eternity with You. Lord, I praise You for Your overwhelming grace that brings us to You. I praise You for the beautiful things You taught me through the life of my grandpa. I praise You for holding me close as I grieve. I praise You through this beautiful storm– I’ve always loved listening to the rain and thunder anyway.

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Dancing with Gramps at my cousin Jenn’s wedding.