I find that I am tired of defending the position that Christians should be advocates for the weak, the poor, the oppressed, and the taken-advantage-of. For me, this is a no brainer. But I must confess that I err on the side of care for the underdog at the expense of those who have been given and enjoy much. I have a very skewed interpretation of “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” and “Love the Lord your God with all your soul, your strength, your mind and your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.” I think this means we should sacrifice from what we have to care for those who have less or not at all. I don’t hear this conditional upon who deserves it, but just as a common principle. Many people have kindly attempted to show me how stupid and irrational this kind of thinking can be. And I have to admit they have a point. Mine is but one possible interpretation, and I cannot impose it on anyone else.
I will not support people who are doing nothing to help themselves. Taxes are Robin Hood robbery, taking from those who deserve to give to those who do not. I am dead set against taxing the wealthy to pay for the poor who are too lazy, too ignorant, and too selfish to care for themselves. Every person has the responsibility to make the most of their own life. You don’t let people off the hook by making life easy for some at the expense of others.
The man who said this — a lay leader in a United Methodist Church — has the right to his opinion and no one has the right to tell him he is wrong. But I am saddened by his position. I believe it is based on some broad and erroneous assumptions at one level, though I will concede he has a point in some very specific, though rare, instances. I agree that it is terrible that our society depends on taxes to demand that we care for one another. I am sorry that some exploit the process to their own selfish ends. I wish that it was not the burden of “the haves” to be forced to care for “the have-nots.” Would that God’s will ruled our lives, this would not be necessary. And those who have worked hard to gain excess for themselves — I think they should enjoy it. I simply wish it were not so threatening to share it.
Ethnic minorities think they deserve special consideration. They believe they are owed something by the fourth and fifth generation of people who took advantage of their great-grandparents. They want a “level playing field,” so they want qualified white people to take a back seat, even when they are not nearly as well-qualified. This is reverse racism.
The woman who spoke this was addressing a women’s prayer breakfast, and the audience of mainly white, upper-middle-class women nodded along with her. And again, she has a valid point: knee-jerk tokenism is no solution to a long-standing problem and it actually exacerbates the problem. Individuals, indeed, should be judged and assessed on their true, individual merits. But the fact that we can’t do that is why the pendulum is swinging to its opposite extreme. There hasn’t been a “level playing field” at any point in history. Reality is a space of gross inequity, and those who have power tend to abuse power. The desire to make amends is admirable, but naive and misguided. Human nature is “ist” — sexist, ageist, racist, elitist, condescending and patronizing at multiple levels. But to assume that those “with” should have more (or all) is ludicrous. We are simply terrified of empowered people — because anyone who gains power does so at the powerful’s expense.
Faithful Christians should not be political. They shouldn’t publicly support one party or another.
Generally, what people mean by this is “Christians should not support a position opposed to my own.” (…but don’t expect me to stand up for anything myself.) The current political miasma in Wisconsin generated a widespread reaction. The interesting side-effect of the whole “collective bargaining debate” is that anyone who defended the defenseless and less-well-educated were immediately lumped in with “liberals” and “democrats” to the outrage of compassionate Republicans and conservatives that rallied to support the poor and marginalized, as well as those in labor unions. As one loyal Republican power-broker told me,
I think what Scott Walker is doing is ill-advised and almost evil. At the very least he is mean and only cares about currying favor with his support base. I never thought he would behave in such a clearly partisan way. This isn’t politics. This is favoring the “haves” and punishing the “have-nots.” I have been a Republican all my life, worked in Republican politics, have lamented our shift to kiss the @$$ of the rich, but this is something else. Walker isn’t a Republican; he’s a loose cannon serving a very small elite.
When leaders in your own party disown you, there is something else going on. Compassionate Republicans abound. They care for the poor and marginalized and they want people to be cared for. In my experience, the great difference between truly caring Republicans and their Democratic counterparts is that Republicans want communities, municipalities and states to address the issues, while Democrats want “BIG government” to ensure it at the federal/national level.
No, what is divisive and troubling to me is not political, but moral and ethical — who should we care about and who should we care for? Who are we responsible for? Who is our neighbor?
In my theology — and I am owning it as my own, and nothing I expect others should share — the good of all is a high value. Community — not just local, but global — is a goal to which we should aspire. Human beings share a common journey — life is challenging. Making it more difficult for others seems sinful to me. Reconciliation, harmony, tolerance, and collaboration are the point. If Christ is in us, then we are in a glorious position to deal compassionately and kindly with everyone we meet — even those with whom we most violently disagree. Faith means we don’t have to hate anyone. If we are confident in our relationship with God we don’t have to judge, insult, condemn, attack, annoy or despise anyone. Any “spiritual aggression” from anyone claiming to be “religious” is just the hate aggression of those who don’t truly believe in what they say they believe.
If our God is love, the love is unconditional. All the petty hearts and minds that want to draw dividing lines and create “us/them” hostilities simply don’t really get it. We should be working together — even with those who don’t think as we do. If we are truly convinced that our way is the right way, then other ways cease to be a threat, and we can walk side by side in assurance that others will come to see the integrity of our “way.” I believe we are all responsible for everyone — from the havingest have to the most bereft have-not. I — and I emphasize “I” — think we do have a Biblical and theological mandate to stand for the have-nots — to defend those who are not able to compete on the uneven playing field that our culture creates. I believe our neighbor deserves as much as I do. I think everyone needs an advocate and a supporter. The Holy Spirit of God is mine that I might be able to stand and be one to those who need support most.