Monday, May 23, 2005

I can still be a committed Christian and vote for a Democrat

Recently a friend of Mrs. Expat Teacher stayed with us for a few days and it was very enlightening. It was the first time I'd ever talked with someone who believes that the Bible is to be interpreted completely literally, to the point of saying that God must have 2 arms and 2 legs and must be all skin colors (I guess striped like a zebra?!?!). This friend didn't seem too engaged in politics, but consistently supports Republican candidates. She couldn't seem to process how I, as a Christian, could vote for anyone but a Republican.

Let me try to show how it is possible to be a dedicated Christian, committed to the causes of Christ and vote for EITHER party.

The most important thing to differentiate is the difference between principle and policy. Principles are ways to live and policies are how government encourages or discourages citizens to live up to those principles.

Here are some examples.

Christian principle: Life is God's gift and only God may give or take life

Republican Policy: Outlaw abortion, outlaw removal of feeding tubes (i.e. Schiavo case)
Democratic Policy: Outlaw the death penalty, ensure health care for the poor

Another example, the Christian principle is “"You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3)

Republican Policy: Erect the ten commandments in public spaces to ensure people remember the Lord.
Democratic Policy: Keep a strong wall between church and state to ensure that all can worship the Lord without having to subscribe to a specific denominational theology.

Yet again, the Christian principle is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:19)

Republican Policy: Recognize and celebrate personal sacrifice in the military, enable more personal generousity by lowering taxes and channelling public funds through faith-based organizations.
Democratic Policy: Enact and enforce civil rights legislation, enact and enforce strong environmental standards, enact a progressive tax policy to ensure a sharing of the national wealth.

All of these policy options support the overriding principle. Unfortunately no party is perfect. Each policy option seems to be the right, if slightly limited approach to achieving that principle. It is in the policies that we Christians (and Americans) will disagree. The reality is that both parties fall short of really upholding the entire principle consistently and across the board. So please understand that if you can’t believe a Christian could vote for a Democrat because Democrats support abortion, that same voter may well not understand your vote for a Republican that supports gutting health care coverage. Yet you are both very concerned about the sanctity of life principle and can both vote with a clean conscience doing so.