Wednesday, September 16, 2015


From Salon:

This is what a political earthquake feels like: Why 
Bernie Sanders’s speech at Liberty University matters

I believe in a woman’s right to control her own body. I believe in gay rights and gay marriage. Those are my views, and it is no secret. But I came here today, because I believe from the bottom of my heart that it is vitally important for those of us who hold different views to be able to engage in a civil discourse.

Click here for more.

I posted this essay on facebook last night and almost immediately got a comment from a conservative Christian friend making a decades old right-wing argument: Jesus wasn't talking about the government; he was talking about churches.

Here's my response:

"That's the job of the body of Christ, not the government."

We live in a democracy, where the government and the people are the same thing. Consequently, the body of Christ is also part of the government. This strange schism between government and the people that I've heard pushed so often by conservative Christians makes no sense to me.

Certainly, it's not Scriptural. As far as I've ever been able to tell, the Bible doesn't talk about democracy at all. All the references to government are about despots, kings, and emperors. Rome, which dominated during the New Testament era was certainly no democracy, just as the various kings, judges, and oppressive enemy states that ruled the Israelites during the Old Testament were not democrats.

For that matter, the kind of personal charity you describe, while noble, is woefully inadequate when compared to government resources--remember that in America, government is of, by, and for the people, which includes the body of Christ. And, while both charity and welfare are helpful, and alleviate suffering, neither does anything to alter the social circumstances guaranteeing that people will be poor. Only the government can do such a thing.

So I hear your argument, and know it well because I've heard it so many times. But it still doesn't really come together for me for the reasons I've stated above. It seems to me that if one really is serious about helping the poor, one wouldn't tie his hands behind his back for reasons that are not entirely clear.