Thursday, February 11, 2010

"That's Unchristian!"

In my second year of grad school I have now become accustomed (I think) to being one of a handful of folks of the conservative persuasion in my workplace. If I'm going to pursue a career in academia, I'd better get used to it, right? Usually it doesn't really affect things - lots of good-natured teasing around election time last year, but otherwise nobody talks much about politics, and that's the way I like it.

One of the guys I work with closely is pretty liberal - I don't know if he uses the term "Christian Left" but I think if he heard it, he'd like it. He's very anti-war, anti-military spending, pro-universal healthcare, the whole nine yards. He likes to post a lot about political views on his Facebook. One thing that bothers me immensely is that he frequently accuses those who do not support socialized medicine, social welfare, and the like, of being "un-Christian." This seems to be a favorite tactic among the Christian liberals I have known. You can't lose when you have Jesus on your side, and slinging around slogans like, "Jesus would be for socialized medicine!" is a surefire way to make your opponents look bad.

Needless to say, I bristle at the implication my co-worker is making - that all who are politically conservative are by definition, "un-Christian." Jesus came among us as a man to establish a Church, not a political school of thought. Disagreeing with someone's politics doesn't make you less of a Christian than them, and there are people on both the right and the left who need to realize that. My views are these: Jesus gave us a very specific set of commands with regards to our duty towards the less fortunate. He commanded us plainly to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned. He did not, however, command us to force Caesar to do these things. Our responsibility is personal and not to be shoved off on the government.

Christians can differ in their views on how Christ's commandment is best carried out. I personally think there is a place for some form of a social safety net in our society, but I don't necessarily believe that federal government is always the best means of establishing one. Some of these programs, as they are now structured, do not promote human freedom but rather a kind of bondage to the state, which I feel is antithetical to the dignity of the individual. (I should emphasize that certain issues are non-negotiable, i.e. abortion, euthanasia, and the like. We have to be careful to distinguish the non-negotiables from other issues which fall in the political and not the moral realm.)

The Church is neither Republican nor Democrat, but eternal. My co-worker is a Christian, and I am a Christian, in spite of the fact that we disagree on the way the country should be run. For anyone to say otherwise would be, well, un-Christian!

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