I am liberal.
I didn't duck when I said it, either. I didn't mumble it with my hand over my lips. I didn't use an acceptable euphemism like "Progressive Democrat" that won't impede my election chances. I said it loud and proud.
OK, shift gears now.
I am a Christian.
Now that, I said real quietly. I ducked. I mumbled, I hesitated, and I apologized. I wished I could find a euphemism that won't automatically associate me with Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson, but still very distinctly identifies my belief in and acceptance of the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Clearly, I am more proud of my political values than I am of my religious conviction. Why is this? And, as the title of this article suggests, why is their combination such an oxymoron in America today?
To address these questions, let's look at the two terms, and perhaps try to understand what they mean.
Despite its modern unfounded association with everything unpatriotic, liberalism is a value system that I am proud to be associated with. I consider it unflinchingly patriotic, truly American, to uphold the liberal cause. In fact, I submit that my liberal views are the mainstream views of America. To define what I mean by liberalism, I will simply enumerate many of my political convictions, and we will see if we can agree to conveniently label the aggregation of them "liberal", whether or not we agree that it reflects America's mainstream views.
I believe in:
- Legislated protection of lower classes from the greed of wealthy individuals and corporations, through fair, bracketed taxation, including estate taxation, stronger anti-monopoly enforcement, full capital gains taxation, and elimination of income taxes for the middle and lower classes.
- Legislated protection of individual's rights to free speech, free expression, free worship and free association
- Enforcement of individual rights to equal treatment, regardless of race, religious affiliation, creed, color, national origin, gender identity, sexual preference or any other socially distinguishing characteristic. This includes full rights for individuals to enter into marriage as protected by the law with any individual of any gender of their choosing.
- Reasonable control of the right to carry firearms
- Legalization and regulation of controlled substances
- Fair, non-exploitative trade
- Legislative control of corporations, including legal recognition that corporations are not individuals bearing individual rights
- Complete and unequivocal eradication of capital punishment
- A culture of rehabilitation, prevention, intervention and social (inner city) construction and development to reduce crime
- Removal of government intrusion into private behavior choices, and complete elimination of victimless crime law and legislated morality.
- Full free, legal and anonymous access to abortion.
- Full sex education in public elementary schools, including birth control education and free contraception distribution as a means of reducing the need for abortion.
- Illegalization of the teaching of religious myths as alternatives to scientific theory.
- A deep, abiding concern for America's image and role in the world as a bastion of true freedom, opportunity and democracy, and not as a protection racket for the wealthiest corporations.
If all of that is being liberal, then we all should be liberal. And proud of it.
So what about Christianity?
I have a simple definition for it; one defintion bearing three criteria, by which any one of any faith can identify any other individual as a person of this great faith.
A Christian is one who believes that 1) Jesus Christ was a man born of flesh, and yet was the incarnation of the one true God, the uncreated Creator, and 2) this Jesus was sent to pay the price of death for the propitiation of our sins in an act of divine mercy and grace, in order to reconcile us to God, and 3) after he died, he conquered this death, being resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit, and in turn gives us eternal life.
There is a secondary description that, while perhaps not strictly a requirement for the definition, nonetheless follows as a reaction to the salvation just described. A Christian, in thanksgiving for his salvation, should then strive to live a Christ-like life.
So why the shame? This faith is beautiful, full of unimaginable mercy, and demonstrative of a profound awareness of what it would really mean to be an omnisicent God. Well, only as I just defined it. And this is the problem.
The loudest (and perhaps most obnoxious) elements of Christianity certainly do not limit their definition to these simple criteria. They have added one very destructive factor that has changed the faith from this one of elegant beauty into a complex, insurmountable mountain of doctrines and tenets that only hold together under an almost supernatural stubbornness: the doctrine of the so-called "infallibilty" of the Bible. And their merciless volume has alienated the secular world so badly that not only is there now little hope of winning more than a few more souls to Christ, but it has effectively caused the rest of us who want to actually heed the words of Christ and love everyone to exhibit the very kind of shame in association that I have just described.
To be liberal is to love humanity. To love mercy. To do justly. To walk humbly. To care for the plight of others - to be other-minded and not self-centered. To desire and work for a better world for the oppressed, the unloved and the downtrodden. To despise hypocrisy. To call out the opportunistic, legalistic deceiver, who would use the rule of law to keep others under subjection. To set people free to express their feelings in safety and peace.
Wait. All of that is to be Christ-like. Wow.
The reason mainstream Christianity has diverged from liberalism is largely because of the doctrine of infallibility. Of course, we know that Jesus himself showed the divine ability to contradict scriptures with other scriptures when a stubborn literal interpretation was demonic and hateful. Seems like Jesus was not burdened by this obsession with infallibility.
But these Christians find two or three obscure passages in Leviticus and decide that they contradict two or three traditionally liberal views. And perhaps they do. But since these words must be true or their whole infallibilty system breaks down, they throw liberal thought out en masse and go sleep with the enemy. Why? Because the enemy lures them in with ingenuous nods to anti-abortion, homophobia and stem cell research paranoia. And now they find themselves stuck in bed with warmongering, profiteering, self-interested hate merchants. How is this Christian?
This moronic all-or-nothing thinking is a hallmark of the infallibility doctrine, and it is a perfect example of the very hypocrisy that Jesus himself got righteously pissed off at.
There is so much more to this, of course, but I will simply leave the apologetic for being liberal and Christian to two notions:
I am convinced (from reading scripture, mind you) that:
1) Jesus would never have stood in front of abortion clinics and spewed hatred and vitriol at nervous, scared young girls in the throes of the heaviest of life decisions, and
2) Jesus would certainly have stormed angrily into the offices of the Trinity Broadcasting Network and turned the tables over.
WORLD - AN EDGE IN MY VOICE
Copyright © 2010 Thomas T.
Liberal and Christian... Whaaaa?
Copyright © 2010 Thomas T.
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