In the US, we’re in the middle of electing a President. I’m not here to tell anyone who to vote for particularly, as I suspect most people have already made up their minds. But I do want to say something – I’m sick of the politicians trying to use Jesus to get my vote, particularly when their Jesus bears no relationship to the Jesus I know as a Christian. I know Jesus.
(this post is religious and political – so feel free to skip it if you aren’t interested in a Christian view or a political post by a US citizen)
The right-wing would have you believe that Jesus cares less about the poor and more about “job creators” (which apparently has some sort of connection to lower taxes – apparently rich people decide they don’t want to bother making money when they are taxed at the rate everyone else is…or not). This Jesus apparently cares mostly about establishing the status quo when it comes to women, gays, religion, science, and the environment. This Jesus likes war and death, at least when it’s not American death. This Jesus is protectionist – America first, the rest of the world can go to hell – literally. And this Jesus apparently is so concerned about this election that the future of America will hinge on it – a wrong move here could bring the wrath of God upon America. Of course the wrong move would be to vote for Obama.
I know Jesus. Mr. Right Wing Jesus, you’re no Jesus.
Jesus believed in paying taxes, and didn’t feel the need to add commentary about how taxation is wrong, stifles job growth, or is a Christian issue. He simply said to pay Caesar what is Caesar’s, never mind that Jesus’s antagonists were trying to get Him to denounce the occupation of Israel by Romans (which one can also look at and say, “So why is it so critical in this election that the US never disagrees with the political nation of Israel? Why has that become a requirement not for Israel’s politicians but for America’s?”).
Let’s look at how the Jesus of the Bible viewed of women. The Book of Matthew starts with a genealogy. This genealogy was radical – it includes women (and traces Jesus’s ancestry through his mother), something that definitely didn’t reinforce the traditional gender roles (then or now), or the “intrinsic differences between men and women.” He started life radically. This wasn’t the only time Christ did something that violated gender stereotypes. And He certainly never taught anything about how only women or only men could fulfill some roles in marriage or child rearing. And far from telling women to just ask questions at home of their husbands about religious things, He taught women, just as He taught men. Yet, some would have us believe that homosexuality is wrong (and wrong enough to care about above all else, unlike, say, war or profiting with high interest loans to the poor) because of this idea that women and men are somehow so completely different from one another that there are things only a woman or only a man could do. It’s expressed as “every child deserves a mother and father” as if men can’t be nurturing or women can’t be leaders, as if a single parent should have their kid taken away and adopted by a married couple since the single parent can’t raise them as well as the married couple, since the single parent lacks the other gender. This isn’t the teaching of Christ, it’s what people have added to His teachings.
In fact, Jesus again turned against much of modern Christian teaching about gender roles, at least from churches who insist women shouldn’t be teaching men: in John, we find out that He first appeared, after rising from the dead, to a woman and told her to go and tell what happened to the men. The resurrection of Christ is the most important theology to a Christian, and it was entrusted not to a man, but a woman.
There’s more I see that concerns me today. I see outspoken and loud Christians talking about the sanctity of life. Yet these same loud Christians aren’t talking about ensuring access to health care for everyone. They aren’t talking about ending the death penalty (never mind that all life is given by God, even murderers’ lives, and never mind that just because someone received the death penalty doesn’t mean they are guilty). Nor are those Christians concerned about the environment and the life and death consequences of bad stewardship. After all, how will we make more money to not give to Caesar if we don’t pollute? Nor is the pro-life stance translated into action or votes when it comes to the deaths of innocents as we fight a war on terror. Those lives just aren’t as important to God, apparently, as American lives are – so in the name of protecting America, it’s okay to kill innocent non-American’s. That’s pro-life.
God cares about quite a bit more than abortion. Or even abortion and anti-gay hate (I think I would even go so far as to say God loves gays, and not just if they “turn from gayness”). He might actually care about the people drinking polluted water. Or the people who live next door to the suspected terrorist we bomb in Afganistan. Or the prisoner sentenced to death row. Or even the sick who lack good routine care because they have no insurance.
Lest anyone think I want to replace Right Wing Jesus with Left Wing Jesus, let me say this: Jesus stayed apolitical in His day. I don’t see why that would be different today. I’m not saying Jesus would vote for Obama. I’m pretty sure He would have concerns that go far beyond the next four years and politicians that, for the most part, won’t fulfill their promises or intentions. But I am sick of being told that my God is someone He is not. I am not going to vote for someone just because some simplistic right-winger told me that is what Jesus wants. Especially when it isn’t.
I’ll end this with a video: