Reformed Theology, Science, Social Justice

Single-Issue Politics

I have become a single-issue Republican. It turns out I disagree with the party rank and file about every other issue, however. I support the labor movement. I want home schooling to be outlawed. I want my children to learn about evolution and the Big Bang. I want PBS and NPR to stay on the air. I think women who work should be paid as well as men. I’m for gun control and alternative energy. I blame lack of regulation for the financial crisis and the recession. I strongly oppose dispensationalist and Zionist policies in the Middle East. I wear Levi’s though many Christians try to boycott them. And my at-home PC is a Mac. It’s not like I’m even liberal. I’m merely moderate. And Californian. But it’s clear there’s no room for moderates like me in the Republican party.

At what point does a responsible Two-Kingdom worldview draw the line? The “sanctity of life”/“made in God’s image” argument likely comes across as a little hypocritical to many people when they see the positions Republicans take on so many other matters. If we’re going to argue for the sanctity of life, shouldn’t we oppose the death penalty? Shouldn’t we also be fighting AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa? Shouldn’t we oppose despots in the Middle East instead of strengthening them? Shouldn’t we have sanctioned Gaddafi three decades ago? (He’s killed thousands in the last 2 weeks alone.) And what about the quality of life for those lives made in God’s image? Can we stand by silent as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Can we allow financial markets to continue unregulated when they’re responsible for so much homelessness and bankruptcy?

I think Christians who use the “made in God’s image” argument should also consider what Jesus said, “Whatever you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.” We are killing Jesus every day.

The most obvious parallel is the infant mortality rate in Africa. The number reported by UNICEF is is actually higher than the U.S. abortion rate reported by the CDC. Christians should ask whether their single-issue voting is crippling the foreign policies that could help reduce infant mortality rates around the world. Do you want to save lives or don’t you? In contrast to the modern trend, there are old denominations that have had medical missions set up in these places for decades. But these are not mainstream American evangelicals.

If we were to step out of our GOP comfort zone and align ourselves with human rights activists, we might find more opportunities to really bring change. If we were to work alongside those who are more progressive, to actually fight for human rights and dignity as well as sanctity, then we might make a bigger impact on the world. If people could see some genuineness in our caring for others, it might help them see a connection between the rights of the poor and repressed and the rights of the unborn and helpless. It seems to me that some real good could be done. “They will know that you are my disciples by your love, one for another.”

I am not a papist, but the reigning pontiff, though staunchly pro-life, had suggested that Christians should consider the big picture when choosing a candidate, suggesting that there may be good policies a pro-choice candidate may have that could outweigh the bad, especially when compared side-by-side and holistically with his or her opponent. (Also, when’s the last time a pro-life candidate you voted for actually did something about it? After all, it’s up to the judges to make those decisions, not our elected officials.) So we should ask ourselves: Does my party affiliation sufficiently tip the party’s scales in the direction I want it to go? Would I do more good as a pro-life Democrat or as an anti-everything-else Republican?

Update: “Liberal” doesn’t mean what I was taught it means. It means freedom-loving. So maybe I am liberal after all.

Update #2: If you apply the percentages of a 2004 Gallup poll to the nation breakdown of party affiliations that year, you find there are 27 million pro-life Democrats and 30 million pro-life Republicans. Not exactly the polarization the right would have you believe.

Update #3: I re-registered today (3/4/11). I am no longer a single-issue Republican. Wisconsin governer Scott Walker pushed me over the edge.

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