President Elect Obama

3 comments Written on November 5th, 2008     
Filed under: News, politics
Tags: , , , ,
I got to watch the final days of this presidential election from here in Japan. I hand delivered my early ballot to the county clerk in Colorado Springs a couple weeks ago so it didn’t really matter where I was on election day. Now I’m trying to sort out my thoughts… and it isn’t easy.

Of course I am happy. Happy that the U.S. has its first non-white president. And I imagine it won’t be long before the first non-male president is elected as well. The fact that Mr. Obama and everyone who voted for him have finally broken the vice-grip that white males have had on the supreme political office of the U.S. is profoundly significant.

I’m also happy that someone who seeks a very different direction in politics from the past 8 years has been elected. Spending most of those 8 years outside of the U.S. has given me a clear view of just how polarizing the current government has been. The U.S. has consistently isolated itself from much of the world, and yet still fails to recognize the consequences of its actions.

There certainly are reasons to be happy. But I don’t want to fall prey to the temptation to be overly optimistic just because the candidate I voted for was elected. As a follower of Jesus Christ I am always keenly aware that there will probably never be a candidate for the presidency who would or could stand for the things that really matter to me. And I am deeply saddened by those who call themselves Christians and yet suggest that there are only one or two issues that determine where Christians should cast their ballots.

Sure, I value the sanctity of life. It’s huge! It’s Biblical. And I realize that sanctity of life plays into the debates about abortion and euthanasia, and also the debates about capital punishment and military action. I also care deeply about the environment and take the Genesis charge to care for it very seriously. I hurt for those who are hungry, sick, and alone; whether in the U.S. or elsewhere.  If we the people really care, those feelings should be reflected in our choice of political leaders.  Above all, Jesus dictates that I care about loving others and loving God. Sadly, those values rarely are prioritized or reflected in politics of any sort.

Mr. Obama frequently lists various categories of people who he seeks to include, and always gets applause. Many followers of Christ are likely troubled by his inclusion of “straight and gay”. I struggle with this too. And I recognize that what ever I say, it may be hurtful and offensive to some. Here are some of my convictions on this topic. 

  • As best as I can see it, sexual orientation is not a matter of choice
  • I should treat gays and lesbians the same as anyone else (i.e. like sinners who need the love of Christ)
  • Gays and lesbians are not responsible for the breakdown of the family: irresponsible straight folks are
  • Heterosexuals are responsible for the vast majority of sexual sin in the world

But those aren’t my only convictions on the topic. I also am convinced that

  • Our bodies were created with heterosexual design; other practices are a deviation
  • The move to socially and morally normalize homosexuality goes against the basic intent of creation

I continue to struggle with what it means to follow all of those convictions in a society where I have little common ground with the folks around me.

Another impossibly difficult political topic for me is war. As a follower of Jesus I have always been convinced that violence is never an acceptable means to solving problems, whether that violence is individual or institutionalized.  Naturally I was opposed to the war in Iraq (and all other wars) from day one. The fact that it was frequently marked by acts of violence which were done in the name of the Christian god just made it that much more painful for me. Nevertheless, I can look at it objectively, and see that amidst all the pain, destruction and death, one very tyranical government was displaced and several years of chaos have followed. The new government still appears to be far from stable, leaving the general public at risk of sectarian violence and extremism. 

Now Obama wants to end the war. Or at least end U.S. involvement. While I share the general conviction that wars need to be ended asap, I am not convinced that his plan will be any better for the people of Iraq than McCain’s plan. I am convinced that Bush never had the best interests of the people of Iraq in mind.  U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East appears to almost always be driven by oil. Unfortunately I don’t expext that to change any time soon. How ever it is that the U.S. extricates itself from Iraq, the sad reality is that the determining force is very unlikely to be the needs or best interests of the people of Iraq.

So there you have it. Jim’s post election political rant. I congratulate the winners and the people of the U.S.A. As a follower of Jesus I will pray for the leaders; and I will seek to live by the words of my Lord.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

3 comments “President Elect Obama”

Thanks… I wish I could get me thoughts out like that. Doesn’t work that way for me though.

Report This Comment

What do you believe the responsibility of governments should be and what do you believe the responsibilities of the Church should be?

Report This Comment

That’s pretty much the central question throughout the entirety of Christian Church history.
Of course I don’t have a complete answer (or even a very good one…), but the former is a necessary evil that tries to prevent humankind’s natural proclivity toward chaos while the latter believes itself to be the body of Christ incarnate and thus seeks to carry on the work that Christ initiated, i.e. the building of God’s kingdom. These two institutions are fundamentally and profoundly different in nature and function, and yet are inextricably linked, or should we say, tangled.

Report This Comment

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog