Archive for the ‘ Politics & Government ’ Category

Are Voters Foolish? (Part III)

The Presidential Contenders at the First Debate

The Presidential Contenders at the First Debate

As if to prove my point in the previous posting, a couple of polls taken after the first presidential debate on Friday night gave Obama the “victory.” That, by itself, is not the story. Although when I watched the debate, my opinion was the opposite of those polls, I was judging success by the following factors:

  • Which candidate was closer to Biblical principles in his answers?
  • Which candidate was more honest in his answers in comparison to what he has said in the past?
  • Which candidate handled himself more appropriately (not interrupting, not getting peeved over the other’s answers, etc.)

But those were my criteria for judging success. In the polls mentioned above, the reason more viewers gave the debate to Obama is summarized in this way: “I felt he was more attuned to my needs.”

This need-oriented outlook, based on selfishness, not on the ultimate good of the nation or proper principles, carried the day, it seems.

While I am not surprised, I am disappointed. In particular, I wonder how many of those who responded in that way consider themselves Christians. As a nation, I fear we are on the edge of the abyss . . . and the fall will be long and devastating.

I keep returning to one of my favorite scriptural passages, a favorite because it explains what must be our priority:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing, and perfect will. (Rom. 12:2)

Are Voters Foolish? (Part II)

Mankind is sinful. That’s the Biblical message. Consequently, we should not be surprised that voters will make foolish choices at times. Yet what do we mean when we say that mankind is sinful, and how does that connect with voting?

Let me try to explain how I see sin. First, all sin is foolish. What could be more foolish than to stiffarm the God who created you and who wants to free you from a life (both now and in eternity) separated from His love? Our rebellious hearts create a barrier. It’s not God’s fault; it’s ours. We are foolish.

Second, all sin is selfishness. We don’t want anyone else telling us what to do, and we don’t want to be held accountable to the standard God has set. Instead, we want to follow our own thinking, our own selfish desires, our misguided concepts of what is “good.” In short, we want to be our own god.

Combine that selfishness with foolishness and then apply it to voting. What is the result? We vote for whoever promises to give us more. We just want things to go better, so we pick someone who says he is all about “change.” Never mind what the change might be; we simply want “change.” We choose not to be truly informed on the issues. We don’t bother to think about foundational principles of life and government. All of this comes from sinful hearts.

I expect that from the world at large. What is distressing is when professing Christians do the same thing. We are to be the salt and light in this society. As Jesus noted, if the salt loses its flavor, what is it good for? The answer: nothing. If we hide the light, who is going to find the right path? No one.

We should be taking the lead in promoting Biblical principles in all of society, but particularly, at this time, in the sphere of politics and government. We should be the most informed on the issues and be able to explain why certain policies are right and others wrong. We should never vote for “change” without first examining what the change will be. Neither should we simply cast our vote for those who promise to give us more goodies. That’s selfishness. That’s sin.

Are Voters Foolish? (Part I)

I saved this political cartoon about a decade ago because I thought it was an insightful commentary on the problem with voters.

Let me be quick to say that I favor a representative system of government; people need to have a say in government because the government itself needs a check and balance. To trust a small group of individuals (whether in a monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, or dictatorship) is foolish. The tendency is to see oneself as more important than one ought, which gives rise to a lot of false ideologies such as “divine right of kings” or rulership based on one’s rank in society. Therefore, people should have input into how the government operates and who should be operating it.

Yet that doesn’t mean that we can repose all trust in the people either. In our political discourse, we have raised “the people” to an almost godlike status. The people will always make the right choice, some say. That can only be true if the people are thinking the way God intended for them to think, and then acting upon what they know is right, based on Biblical principles.

As I survey American political history, and the choices the people have made over the years, the result is definitely mixed. All too often, people will vote for that which leads to the destruction of a society. Why will they do so?

There are many reasons, but they all start with a Biblical view of man and of sin. I’ll continue with this in the next post.

The Market and Personal Responsibility

The big news last week, of course, was the near-collapse of the market, fueled by the bailout of major firms by the federal government. Leading the way were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the quasi-private, quasi-government lending institutions. Now the taxpayers have the burden of guaranteeing an additional $700 billion.

Why did this happen? I’m not going to go into all the economics of it, but at the base of the problem is a spiritual issue. It has to do with personal responsibility. First, individuals were irresponsible when they sought loans for homes they could not really afford. Then, the companies were irresponsible for giving them those loans.

Further irresponsibility came from Congress, which did nothing to warn against the oncoming crisis; in fact, under Democratic leadership, the Congress refused to deal with the issue at all, primarily because of the cozy relationship between members of Congress and the leaders of the industry who were giving them money.

How many news reports pointed out that the men running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were staunch Democrats? I didn’t see any, did you? Instead, we are given sermonettes on the “failure” of the free-market system. That system can fail, yes–but only when character fails.

It all comes back to understanding that we are accountable for our actions, and that arrogance, greed, and selfishness (the lenders and Congress) combined with foolishness and selfishness (the buyers) has led to this debacle.

Loss of Biblical principles affects us all.

Palin, Gibson, and Romans 8:28

Sarah Palin Being Interviewed by Charles Gibson
Sarah Palin Being Interviewed by Charles Gibson

This week, Sarah Palin had her second test (the first being her acceptance speech at the Republican Convention): could she hold her own against an interviewer from the mainstream media?

Charles Gibson of ABC news was given two days to interview Palin on any and all subjects. ABC stretched out the interview segments over two nights and three different programs. I think they wanted ratings (from what I have heard, they succeeded in that).

How did it go? The first night, Palin was a little tense, but even most of her detractors had to admit she did not hurt herself or the Republican ticket. Some tried to make a gaffe out of her asking Gibson what he meant by the “Bush Doctrine,” but as numerous commentators have noted since, there are at least four different policies that have been labeled in that way. She had ample reason to ask for clarification.

The second night, she was practically a different person–casual, at ease, with answers that seemed to flow more from her heart. This is all the more impressive when you consider how she was treated by her prosecutor interviewer. Gibson’s attitude toward her was one of superiority, as if he were on a mission to let her know just how much she lacked the credentials for the position of vice president. I think one e-mailer to National Review’s “The Corner” expressed it well:

His glasses accentuated the sense that he was looking down his nose at her. I felt like he was treating her as though she were fresh out of community college, but interviewing to be president of Harvard. And he was humoring her by interviewing her — but hoping to show her, by his questions, that she had no business even applying for the job. 

 

I don’t want to be one of those who sees conspiracy everywhere, but when you couple Gibson’s attitude with the overview of Palin’s life that ran on the 20/20 program just before the last part of the interview, you have to wonder. I thought I was past being surprised by how the media treats Christians and conservatives (combine the two and they really have heartburn), but this “hit piece” was startling. All accusation, no balance at all. The goal was to make you feel that this person is dishonest, untrustworthy, and an outright fraud.

 

 If the intent of the media is to destroy Sarah Palin, it is not working. The over-the-top accusations and well-fed rumors have not turned people away from her. In fact, I think the opposite is happening: people are seeing the agenda on display and are turning on the media instead. A Scripture comes to mind:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

 

If Palin is maintaining her love of God, and if He indeed has called her for a high purpose, He will actively work to make good out of what others intend for evil.

Palin, McCain, and Prayer

Palin Speaking at the Republican Convention

On Wednesday evening, those who watched Sarah Palin speak at the Republican convention saw something quite amazing. The media who attacked her for five days prior to her speech still aren’t sure what to make of it.

She wasn’t supposed to be so at ease. She wasn’t supposed to be so effective in introducing herself to the American people. And above all, she wasn’t supposed to actually know anything about how government works and be able to offer sensible and rational prescriptions for the future. Instead, she was supposed to be beaten down, timid, and lost in the bright lights of public scrutiny.

It didn’t turn out that way and I, for one, am delighted.

I don’t want to repeat the many accolades she has received since the speech; neither do I want to dwell on the attitudes and smears that have passed for news this past week. Others have commented quite perceptively on both.

What can I, as a Christian, offer that is different?

First, I want to appeal to all who are Christians to pray specifically for her. The more I have read about Sarah Palin, the clearer it becomes that she is a committed follower of Jesus Christ. I, and all Christians, have a responsibility before God to lift her up in prayer. She will need the strengthening that can come only from the Holy Spirit in the next two months.

Second, we are to pray for the future of this nation. We really are at a critical juncture. I seem to say that every four years, and I keep hoping I won’t have to say it the next time a presidential election comes along. However, each election does impress me as more significant than the last one.

John McCain was not my first choice for the Republican nomination. Yet I am convinced he is a man who has learned a couple of valuable lessons along the way. His speech last night made clear one of those lessons: you must live for something greater than yourself. And when he recounted his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, he did so in a very personal way. He did not call himself a hero. In fact, he rather astonished the media by admitting that he broke under the torture. It was others, he said, who gave him the courage to continue. There was a humility in his remarks that was unmistakeable.

God will always bless genuine humility. We need to pray for McCain as well.

I posted earlier that I consider myself a Christian first and an adherent to a political party only to the extent that the party advocates Biblical principles. Today I am more convinced than ever that, as a Christian, I must support the Republican nominees.

John McCain Giving His Acceptance Speech

John McCain Giving His Acceptance Speech

Palin's Daughter: The Christian Response

The Palin Family

The big news yesterday, of course, was that the Palins’ eldest daughter Bristol, seventeen years old, is pregnant and unmarried. What should the Christian’s response be to this?

First, sin is sin and should be acknowledged as such. What she did was a step into unrighteousness. It requires repentance and a renewal of obedience to God.

Second, forgiveness is available to all. A sincere repentance brings God’s mercy, although consequences remain.

While I don’t know the heart of this young woman, I do see the outward actions and can make some type of analysis based on that. Here are the positives:

  • She has refused to abort this child. She recognizes that the life within her is a real person made in the image of God. In doing so, she follows in the footsteps of her mother.
  • She and the young man are planning to be married. That used to be a given in society; not anymore. They are taking responsbility for their actions.
  • Her family has pledged full support in helping her through this difficult time–difficult because she is such a young mother and because she is in the national spotlight. The family is actually a real family, present not only when things are going well but in the midst of trials also.

I certainly wish this had never happened. Yet this child has the opportunity to be raised in a family with God’s love as the foundation.

As for Sarah Palin herself, I am afraid that some Christians will pounce on this as a means of chastising her for not being a good mother. Some may say that she has been too distracted by her public life to keep tabs on her own children.

My response? I will let her answer to God for that. I am not going to sit in judgment on that point. I do know one thing, however: it is much easier to be judgmental about this if you have never raised a family of your own. We need to keep in mind that every person has a free will. Even in the best of families, such things may happen. Christian parents can do their very best and yet see one of their children go astray. We should not rush to judgment in this case. God is merciful, and we should mirror that mercy.