Posts Tagged With: American government

Why I’m Not Voting

In next week’s election, I do not plan on voting for any federal or New York State officials, obviously including President of the United States of America. I have been asked by a friend to explain my choice. To my best understanding, the reason he is asking me to explain is because traditionally we conservative evangelical types see voting as a civic duty. We have learned from when we were wee lads and lasses that voting in democratic elections is a near-sacred duty, wrapped in all the somberness and ritual of a religious sacrament.

And therein is my first issue with voting for federal and state office holders. As a Christian, my primary citizenship is in heaven, where Christ is. He is preparing the New Jerusalem—the eternal city of God—and He will bring that consummate kingdom upon His appearance and judgment of the living and the dead. You’ll notice I said “primary” citizenship, and that’s because of course we are also citizens of the nations on earth as we live here. In simple terms, Christians are dual citizens, and we have duties in each realm. And what is our most important duty in the civil realm of this age? It is to be salt and light—to stand out. We are to be a different, holy people, and we are to be the fragrance of Christ everywhere we go, and in all we do.

What am I getting at? Only that in all areas of our lives, we are to show our pagan and post-Christian neighbors that we have a better hope, a higher kingdom, and accordingly, a fearless posture toward the evil in this world. Now of course none of us does any of this perfectly, which is why we keep returning to the church gathering each week where we hear of our sin, the forgiveness we have received, and the promises of the age to come. We are often fearful, though our Lord commands “fear not.” We are often mired in the same idols as the Gentiles, though our Lord commands “come out from them and touch not the unclean thing.” I think many wonderful Christian people in America have succumbed to the fear of man, namely, the liberal and Progressive man, and are placing their hope in democratic elections as a temporal salvation. In a narrow sense it is true that good civil policy saves us from lawless men, so I understand the need for the State in our present world; however, I think the manner in which our politics have become all encompassing and overwhelming shows the idolatrous fear and rage intrinsic to this present system.

Today we can and should repent, re-form the line if you will, and face the world as a fearless, holy people.

And I believe abstaining from the vote is one of the more powerful means to do so right now. nopeAsk yourself what drives 90+% of the voting in federal and state elections today. You know what it is: fear. And not only fear, but jealousy, rage, insecurity, and tribalism/racialism (in all directions). Why are Christians blending in with this portrait of ungodliness? I’ll tell you what I think—I believe we’re in a rut of tradition that we can’t see from above. We think voting always helps secure liberty and justice for all.

We think it’s our sacred duty to cast our ballot because men shed their blood to give us this right. We think we owe it to the brave guys who charged the machine gun nests on Normandy’s beach, we think the 58,000+ who never returned from Vietnam cry out “go! Go to the voting booth and vote! We died in a jungle ditch so you could do so!”

We think we must make our voices heard.

And on that last point, I fully agree. We must make our Christian, fearless, faithful voices heard to those in power, and I propose our message be something like this:

We are not your slaves, and we are not afraid of you. Do what you will to us, but we will serve the Lord Jesus Christ, promote His kingdom, and speak out against your ungodly policies. We will no longer be complicit in propping up this sham democracy.

This nation is captured by an oligarchy of lifetime politicians, corporate pirates, and usurious thieves on Wall Street, and voting has only distracted us from your injustices, as if we ever had a chance in a rigged game. We are tired of having our income stolen to propagate antichrist doctrines in the schools, violence in the womb, violence throughout the world in conflicts that are unjust and unnecessary, and general economic discord domestically.

We protest the system of credit and debt that is forced upon us, we protest the postmodern worldview of our leaders, and we refuse to participate in a system that fingers the wind in making law. Our vote will not save the United States of America, only mass waves of confession and repentance in the churches will begin to turn the tide of evil in this land.

We now turn to our families and to our churches to each show the way of confession and repentance, and to take responsibility for all the injustices that we have allowed in our name, and worse, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that to any longer participate in this democracy is to betray our profession of faith in the One who is able to protect, provide for, and to keep His people while in the valley of the shadow of death during this evil age. We will submit to the authorities as He has commanded, but we will no longer sign our names to the vile means and aims at work in the places of power.

Justifying this View

First, the old Christian republic has long since passed away, and the Enlightenment constitutional republic that replaced it is also long dead. We have been living in a straight-out democracy for a long time; we are at the mercy of the majority of voters, and the rule of law is a mere phrase in the imaginations of optimistic, flag-waving patriots. Ever since Lincoln denied the South the right to secede, we’ve all been living in a post-constitutional democracy, now fatally compounded by 1,001 unjust decisions by the Supreme Court and Congress.

Second, what is left of law and order in this society is rapidly being folded into the tyranny of a man-centered foundation for law and justice. From the time merchants began arriving on the heels of the first Puritan pilgrims, the law of man (unjust and ghastly in any society) has been warring with the law of God for the central place in American law. We have always been a flawed, inconsistent nation whose lust for happiness has led to countless crimes against God and man (think chattel slavery); yet there has also been a remnant of the Christian instinct to hold our society to the standards and mores of the Scriptures. Now in 2016, this instinct has been suppressed and defaced to the point of utter mockery—we have pretty much fully embraced a culture of corruption, radical subjectivism, and self-serving. Sure, there’s a remnant of Christian and civil people who wish no harm to their neighbor, but we’re outnumbered, and we have almost zero representation in the halls of power.

Even where decent men and women inhabit an office or two somewhere in Washington DC, the system as a whole is oriented toward injustice at every level. There is no saving it. There is no political solution left in these United States. Let’s read that again. There is no political solution left in this nation, or in our individual states. We have been given over to the full measure of our wishes, to have the riches and blessings of freedom and liberty become the slaves of our lusts and evil desires. The only outcome possible for such a people is total slavery and war.

And so let’s talk about what it means for a Christian to vote in 2016. When we vote for federal and state officials, we are explicitly stating with that vote:

–          I believe that participation in this democracy will somehow promote justice and equity under law.

–          I believe that choosing new individuals to occupy these specific federal/state offices will create better representation for me, my family, and my clan of people.

–          I believe that by my vote I am securing my right to redress of grievances, representation in legislation, and financial entitlements.

–          I believe that without my vote I am somehow made responsible for the injustices of the tyrannous majority.

–          I believe that voting pleases my Lord.

And I do not agree with any of these points. I hesitate to attempt to fully bind other Christians’ consciences with this same conviction, so I will simply state how I see things, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you as He does in me.

We are Samson with his eyes scooped out, pushing the Philistine grinding wheel. We have been with the Philistine prostitutes, and our Christian souls have clung to them under the sheets of comfort, entertainment, career, prestige, cultural acceptance, and academic clout. We have been fooled—we have been fools. In this last hour of the American experiment in democracy, I would wish for us to press the pillars of the Philistine temple, to bring down the weight of this corrupt nation upon its head… but unlike with Samson, I am not wishing for the death of our enemies, but only for the end of their sin against our holy God. The only way this world will see its sin is for the church to be the church, and that will require a great cost be paid by us, as it was by Samson in his last act.

If all true Christians in America quit voting, within a short while we would be standing in the place of greatest influence of all people, even while the roof of prosperity and comfort was falling on our own heads. The voting booth is a substitute for Christian courage in this day of moral anarchy.

If I am wrong in my framing of the issue, you are welcome to bring a loving rebuke in the comment section.

In Christian charity,

Adam

 

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ron Paul’s Farewell Speech: A Serious Warning

Dr. Ron Paul is retiring from the U.S. Congress after a career spanning 36 years. The unique thing about him is that he didn’t become a power-mad, money-hungry monster of a human being – and to his last days in government is issuing a clarion call to us, the people, that we are losing our country. Whether or not you agree with the man’s policies, you have to respect his honesty and lifetime of faithful service to the country. Watch this speech. The whole thing. With family. Possibly twice or five times. Understand what he’s saying. Start facing what has happened to our nation, and be ready for big changes. The coming decades will be a time of strong testing for the American nation, and for those of us who are concerned with interpreting the cosmos; having a worldview which reflects truth… we cannot pretend these things are not happening. We must pray to the Lord of the universe, we’ve got to seek Him and ask His forgiveness…. It’s time to be brave and to speak boldly in the public square for truth and justice.

May God help us.

 

Thanks for visiting,

-Justin

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Cozying up to Goliath: Evangelicals & the Military

Evangelicals in America, according to my own personal observations, have a mighty, powerful love of the United States military. I have been in any number of churches from a few different denominations and have seen multiple times worship services become mingled with homage to the military. This disturbs me. What is the military? It is the physical force of the government manifested in the earth. What is military propaganda doing in a church service?

As I used to say as a toddler: “I don’t sure, Mom.”

In the case of this country, the military has served to protect our freedoms and way of life, has in many places freed people from oppression, and in others kept horrific despots from taking power. I would not denigrate the service of our soldiers who have fought and died for us; for me to be able to sit here and write this blog post. I have dear friends who are active duty or retired, and my own dad is a Vietnam veteran. Thank you, Dad.

Here’s the rub: the military is a morally neutral force. It is pure power without brains or heart. The moral quality of it is determined by the commanders who utilize it in action, and in America the will of the people which should in theory be the will of the commanders. We could review various wars the U.S. military has conducted and judge the good or evil means and ends of each, but I ask a different question: why are Evangelicals so deeply loyal to the military? Is it as an institution beyond criticism per Romans 13? (Obey the government and submit to the authorities, Paul teaches us). I believe there is something more behind this than just biblical loyalty and submission to authority.

My thoughts are complex, but to boil it down, I am afraid we, as theologically conservative Christians are wedded to the military in such a way that we readily excuse anything done in the name of the United States of America by the military, especially when there is a Republican in the White House. I fear we have been mute in the face of atrocity and injustice perpetrated by the Pentagon. I fear we can justify any bullet, any bomb as being “a fight for our freedoms.”

If you are a Christian, have you stopped to ask questions about our national use of force in the world? Would you be willing to speak against injustices committed in your name, as so many in the world think of us as a “Christian nation?” Where are the lines drawn between moral and immoral use of force? Are unmanned drone attacks warranted simply because there are terrorists out there? What about when we consistently take the lives of civilians inside of countries which we have never declared war against? What if Yemen launched an unmanned drone attack on someone in Nebraska and killed 15 school children? What would be our response?

What happened in your heart and mind when our government announced it would help out Al-Qaeda in Libya to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi? Things getting blurry yet? Why is it that our nation spent $768,000,000,000 on the military last year, almost $600,000,000,000 more than the next country on the list?

I believe this is one place where American Christians are far off of the message of Jesus, whose focus was not a kingdom of this world, but rather the restoration and redemption of people and cosmos – healing the broken and preaching the gospel. What is our focus, my fellow American Christians?

One more question: when the modern, secular, godless State of Israel lobs missiles into Palestinian areas which are upwards of 8% Christian, do you mourn for the deaths of your Christian brothers, sisters, and their children who have died by explosions your tax dollars paid for? We must stop to weigh the nuances of our national actions, and decry those that are unnecessary or unjust.

It grieves me to think of any use of deadly force. It grieves me when some Evangelicals seem to laud the military without even a hint of agony for what it truly is: a necessary but terrible part of life in our fallen world.

This world was made for us to cultivate, beautify, and steward. The Church is meant to help restore those things to humanity, to shed light on Christ’s redemption of the cosmos – and in reality the military breaks, destroys, and pollutes the earth. Totally different missions, hm?

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Government in the Image of the People

Bob Lonsberry WHAM 1180

Local Rochester radio talk show host Bob Lonsberry recently hung up on me on air when I suggested that Americans get the government they deserve. Bob is a professing far-right wing Republican, the kind with more kids than rooms in his house, more guns than kids, more gallons of gas in his SUV than guns, and more opinions than gallons of gas in his SUV (all in a good way). He lives in the All-American town of Mount Morris, NY, where the climate is noticeably conservative, familial, and country. So when I got on his radio show and added my two-cents about bad government, I thought I would have a new friend and ally. Bob and I share a love for fairly strict constitutionalism, as well as having strong personal faith (albeit in different faiths – evangelical and Mormon). He’s usually cool with me – we’ve even had some friendly conversation at the annual Wellsville Ridgewalk… So, why did my friend Bob end my call?

I’ll tell you what – it wasn’t a problem with philosophy of government, it was the fact that Bob believes people are basically good, and deserve good. I believe, as per the Bible, that people are basically evil, and deserve evil.

The idea that the American government has become tyrannical and corrupt in response to the corruptions and license in the hearts of the people was enough to have the good Captain Lonsberry throw me overboard.

Government of the People, Right?

Wasn’t it the Founder’s intention to give us a representative government? A government which would be of the People, for the People, and by the People? In my opinion, we have today in Washington DC and the State capitals a fairly close reflection of the governed. True, the politicians tend to be wealthier than the average citizen, but I am talking morally and ethically reflective. The American form of government creates a unique type of ruling class, “made in the image” of the people, if you will.

Not everyone, of course, is living in unrestrained debauchery as there are many noble Americans out here who work hard, love their families, accept responsibility, and fight for justice… but there are people like that in the government too. The issue is that both in the citizenry and in the government it is a small minority which truly tries to live out the best of America’s values and even less who are following and obeying Christ.

I (Sob) Love New York

For us who live in New York State, there could not be a more deserving people for the government we have in Albany. Everyone from Australia to the North Pole knows that the NYS government is the most corrupt and inefficient band of crooks there is, yet every November New Yorkers go to the polls and vote the same people in over and over and over.

Ummm… Please don’t ask me that.

Just take a glance at the photographs of any random legislator in Albany – it’s like they have “guilty” written all over their faces. They know they are criminals and derelicts, but they are getting paid well to do it with very little chance of consequences.

But the point here is not to bash our government – I only hope to point to the correlation here. Look at what the Word of God says in a Proverbs 28:2 warning:

When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue.”

Do you see the order? When the people are wicked, the government grows. Bad people, bad government. This is my attempt at a rebuke to the militant political wing of American Christianity. Stop focusing on the government as the disease. The enormous, foolish, wicked bureaucracy that rules America is a response to the unfettered sinfulness of her people. If the churches would perhaps stop entertaining themselves to death, stop trying to be “relevant,” stop trying to fit in and impress the culture – and return to the bare naked old gospel proclamation, return to the simplicity of Christ crucified, buried, resurrected, and soon to appear in glory, and return to our commission to make disciples… then maybe we would over a very long time begin to turn the tide on what has happened to our once great nation.

We otherwise continue to rail against the symptoms of the disease, i.e. Big Brother, and look away from the bacterial infection in the hearts and homes of the people. That way of thinking will wipe the snot off the nose and let the national body continue to die her slow, grotesque death.

For Bob, I’m sorry to say, the hope and belief that there is some inherent goodness in the American people is an empty hope – the goodness and light and peace this wonderful country has had is all, I repeat, all due to the grace and to the glory of God Almighty.

Thanks for reading,

-Adam

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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