Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vote for Biblical Values!


Within the last two weeks I, like many others, have been inundated with calls from “pastors” and others urging me to encourage my congregation to “vote Biblical Values!.”  I have seen posts on social media and even people wearing buttons that say “Vote the Bible” or “Vote for Biblical Values!” And so I would like to say first, that I will be voting biblical values!  And not only that but I encourage all Christians to also keep the values we are taught from scripture in mind as you consider your vote on Tuesday.  But the next question, of course is what does that mean? Exactly what values are we supposed to be voting for?  So, in this little article I will simply lay out I consider to be the most important biblical values which we should consider and for this I am going to the Gospels – in fact I am going to start with the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10: Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  And then Jesus launches into the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  So what is the foundational biblical value we can glean from this parable – “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  And this is not just Luke 10 – this principal shows up again and again in the Old and New Testaments.  As Christians we are called to place the needs of our neighbor above our own needs.
And what are these values interpreted to our own day and time?  Reading through the Gospel of Luke from beginning to end these are really quite clear:
1.                    Care for others is at the top of the list.  No matter what, the first priority is to make sure that our neighbor has all of their basic needs.  This means – food, shelter, health care.  This means to me that as a citizen I then have a responsibility to cast my vote for the candidate whose positions most encompass care for the other, care for the poor and care for those on the margins.
2.                    Care for creation! We are placed as stewards over creation to care for and cherish it.  This means taking care of our natural resources. So, therefore the candidate whose positions on taking care of our resources, finding alternatives to fossil fuels and working hard to curb green house gas emissions is the one who will get my vote.
3.                    Care for the aged.  Our elders have given much and now as they enter into the autumn of their lives they need to have the support systems that they have been counting on and paying into for their entire lives maintained and functional – that is Social Security and Medicaid.
4.                    Care for the stranger.  For a Christian Jesus made it quite clear that there were no such things as strangers, only brothers and sisters.  So, it is important that we are welcoming and work to be fair and equitable to those who come to us from outside the country.  A fair and just immigration policy that is compassionate and cares for the needs to those who are our guests needs to be a priority.
5.                    Justice as a priority! Beginning with the prophets and moving into the Gospel of Luke the just and fair distribution of resources and wealth is a priority for the bible.  In fact, the Old Testament even mandated a special Jubilee Year for the express purpose of making sure that in the realm of economics the system was fair.  This means that tax laws that are unjust and which allow some to amass great untaxed wealth while the rest of us have to shoulder the tax burden is simply not in keeping with biblical values.
6.                    I could go on – opposition to racism, support of women’s equality, justice and equal status under the law for ALL Americans and opposition to any law that singles out some American’s for special treatment – positive or negative – these are also a part of an overall understanding of Biblical values.
Voting Biblical values means that I take my neighbor’s needs into consideration.  And I must ask myself this question – “is my neighbor better off” under this party’s policies or the other.
Finally, I have to make another statement.  There is one candidate that until recently made it quite clear that he was quite proud to be a disciple of the mid-20th century philosopher Ayn Rand.  Her philosophy has actually become quite popular in libertarian circles, which is not surprising as it lifts up selfishness and greed as virtues; condemns the poor as leeches and denigrates compassion as being akin with weakness.  The philosophy of Ayn Rand is completely and totally antithetical to biblical values.  The bible says that to be a follower of Jesus one must give up everything they have, make reaching out to the poor and disenfranchised a priority, and to recognize that compassion is an important emotion that humanizes us and is a gift from God that leads us away from a self-centered focus to enable us to see the needs of others.  The philosophy of Ayn Rand is not Christian, it is (I believe) an insidious evil.  I will personally not vote for anyone who is a disciple of this philosophy for it runs contrary not only to everything I believe as a Christian – that is it runs contrary to biblical values – but it also undermines the very framework upon which this nation was founded and will lead to nothing but misery and destruction. 
So in closing.  I intend to vote Biblical Values and those values are to make the needs of other human beings the number one priority.  Allow me to close with the words to what is perhaps the most beautiful song in the New Testament and a song which clearly outlines God’s priorities as manifested in Jesus: The Song of Mary, from Luke 2:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

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