Monday, September 1, 2008

Jesus was definitely a Republican

I was pretty angry yesterday. Not angry at anybody, just angry at the institutions we have in the USA that cause situations like this.

My band was asked to play at a congregation here in the valley, which included three services in the morning and one in the evening. The first three services were identical (mostly) and the evening service was a "Bible study" (Chuck Smith style).

I really enjoyed the morning service. It was about working through trials together, supporting each other in the hard times. The pastor didn't try to explain why bad things happened, just that God is with us in them, He is our only comfort, and we need to actually care for the needs of others.

But then he gets towards the end of the sermon and takes a turn towards the political. He was consciously aware of what he was doing here, even saying, "I need to be careful because I cannot endorse any candidate up here." But then he proceeds to say, "With this upcoming election it looked like either way we went we were equally doomed, but then Friday one of the candidates selected a spirit-filled, born again woman from the Assemblies of God." He went on to mention her by name, Sarah Palin. If that's not an endorsement I don't know what is.

Now I'm not sure why it matters that she's pentecostal (the congregation isn't pentecostal at all). All the candidates are Christians. Obama specifically says he takes his Bible with him everywhere and reads it daily. Apparently it doesn't matter if you're a professing Christian when you're in politics, you're going to hell and taking the world along with you if you disagree on policy issues.

I don't mean to get political myself here, but the pastor's point was that people were already making comments about how they can't accept a VP who rolls around the floor speaking in tongues. I hadn't known she was AoG until he brought it up. This means she truly is the worst possible running mate for John McCain who has attacked Obama on experience (Palin has all of 20-months in the Governorship), celebrity (Palin was a pagent contestant and TV personality, as well as posing for Vogue magazine), and his affiliation with a black liberationist pastor (AoG believes tongues are a sign of salvation, and those without this "gift of the spirit" are not saved).

But the political talk of the pastor didn't stop here, he went on to say he believes California Proposition 8 will pass with a huge majority, even though polls now show opposition to the bill holds a strong majority. This proposition amends the California state Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. He went on to say the Church would be under attack for its support of this bill, and that is a sign of persecution.

The rest of this post will be focused on this issue because in the evening service the assistant pastor (who was sermonizing) said that "experts" predeict Christian persecution in between two and four years if Prop-8 fails. (This assistant pastor also talked about the antichrist describing him as someone who is "eloquent, charasmatic, able to attract a lot of people to himself" who talks about "hope and change" as well as "peace and unity," obvious allusions to Barack Obama.)

Even if you do believe the Bible defines marriage (which it doesn't), what does it matter how society around you defines it? Follow your convictions and marry a woman, and only one. Do it. That's your perogative. But how does someone else marrying someone you wouldn't affect your walk with God? It doesn't. In this state we might talk about gays marrying, in other countries polygamy is alright. It doesn't matter because the world is fallen and sinful, and we shouldn't expect them to live to the standards you would hold for yourself.

This isn't relativism, it's not saying it's OK for other people to do what they will, it's simply doing what you know is right. Teach others what you think is right, like my pastor does. But don't make it the entire work of the Church in California to force their will on everyone else. If there's a bill to vote on, vote on it how you will, but don't make it into the very purpose the Church wa splaced here on Earth.

And this thought that the Church will be persecuted because gays marry, that's ludacris. For example, Massachucets has had gay marriage for over a year. Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Netherlands and Spain all allow gay marriage. But you know where Christians are persecuted? In countries where homosexuality is illegal (not just marriages). Egypt, Libya, India, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and other countries like that all have severe penalties for homosexuality, including life inprisonment (India) and death (Saudi Arabia).

The conclusion is the Church can exist and operate, including all commands of abstaination and dilligent service, in a world full of sinful beings. In fact it is our purpose on this world to be among the sinners. Christ said he came for the sinners, not the righteous.

But the biggest hindrance to the Church is the United States of America. Within her borders is apathy and a nationalistic religion (the Assemblies of God actually states their "loyalty to the government of the United States" in their constitution and by-laws) which is perverted. When Christians (such as Focus on the Family (when they're not focusing on families)) says America was founded not on Christian principals but "on Christ himself," they are giving this nation a spirituality it does not possess. It is now a part of the Church in many minds. It is not just a Christian nation, it is an arm of the Church, or even a foundation upon which many demoninations are built. And internationally the USA harms the Church by supporting Israel's occupation, occupying Iraq, and generally being seen as continuing the Crusades. When the USA hinders the work of missionaries in South America, South Asia and other parts of the world.

At any rate, this congregation also had a voter registration table in their foyer, and I checked the forms expecting the Republican boxes to be pre-checked, and they weren't. The final lesson I learned yesterday was love. Love for these fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. Love for my neighbor, surely I can forgive my neighbors. Love for my enemies, for they were created by God and formed in the womb a unique creation.

But I sure wish the Church would rather put their focus on eradicating nuclear weapons (1 is 1 too many, so 30,000 is infinitely sinful), fighting slavery (slavery is at it's highest point in history now), fighting poverty, making sure wages are being paid fairly, helping single mothers and their children survive, and reducing the number of abortions in practical means (not vitriolic, election year campaigns).


brenna said...

I don't agree with everything you said here, but it has a lot of good stuff in it. It's refreshing to see so much wisdom. The problems with our society are not video games or movies or gays or teen pregnancy. The problems in our society are summed in one thing: the pride of those who think they have all the answers. I grew up in the church and I know my God and I don't recognize his "followers" and I really don't know what to do about it. The whole dominionist idea just makes me nauseated.

Steven Kippel said...

Thanks for your kind words.