Thursday, October 30, 2008

A smorgasboard of values

The following article is taken from Kairos Journal. I have added links from this source or copied articles into this blog numerous times in the past. This one touches on the coming election in a profound way. I hope it will help all who read here to decide wisely.

Timely Messages from Honored Guests

First Things First in Politics1
James M. Kushiner is executive editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity.

Several years ago, the National Council of Churches identified “ten non-partisan, biblically based guidelines” for voters: war/conflict, urban decay/poverty, foreign policy, economic justice, racial justice, environmental justice, immigration, health care, and criminal justice. They made no mention of “gay marriage” or sanctity of life issues such as abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, or euthanasia.

A contrasting editorial in a conservative Christian magazine chose six areas of “urgent concern” to voters: religious freedom around the world, Middle East peace, expanding access to health care, fighting AIDS wisely, pro-life Supreme Court appointees, and defending marriage.

So how should one proceed? Since no candidate is better on all the items, some would suggest we are morally free to vote for candidates who are strong on several of them while bad on several others. Which items are which doesn’t matter, since they are all offered, without prioritization, as biblical values. The Christian conscience is free to choose what it likes in this moral and ethical cafeteria.

But the Christian tradition, rooted in Holy Scripture, shows clearly that two of the six are in a class of their own: They are timeless and foundational matters. The others are not. The sanctity of human life and the sanctity of marriage are primary and fundamental biblical “values.” Genesis teaches this and Christ confirms it.

The Sanctity of Human Life

In Genesis, while all other life is “brought forth” by the earth, God forms man directly. His very flesh bears the fingerprints of the Creator, and his soul is given from the breath of God. Man is a special God-made being, in his very flesh.

Can a Christian citizen, then, ignore what the election of any candidate will mean for the trafficking in human flesh: killing embryos for stem cells, cloning human beings for stem-cell research, creating embryos for the purpose of obtaining “donor” organs? Is this issue really on the same level as a candidate’s views of the Middle East? [I would add, things like slavery, sex-trade traffic]

The Sanctity of Marriage

While all life reproduces “after its kind,” man’s procreative mandate is unique. God creates woman for man and brings the two together under His hand and blesses the union, a one-flesh union that in Christian theology is more than biological; it reflects a deeper mystery of Christ and the Church.

While “traditional marriage”—one man, one woman—is not the consistent Old Testament practice, Christ makes it clear that it was God’s intention “from the beginning.” And all homosexual activity is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. St. Paul in Romans 1 writes that homosexual practice is a sign of the deepest idolatry. Christian citizens today are being asked to take the extraordinary step of approving something that is strongly and unequivocally condemned in Scripture.

Ends and Means

On the issues of advancing religious freedom across the globe, fostering peace in the Middle East, expanding health-care coverage, and fighting AIDS, politicians differ not about the ends we are seeking, but about the best or most effective means to those ends. There is room for reasonable disagreement here. People (including Christians) of goodwill can come down differently on these issues without compromising any moral principle.

But on the life issues and marriage, the differences are about ends, not merely means. Christians of goodwill cannot reasonably differ about the obligation of law and government to protect innocent human life against abortion and embryo-destructive biomedical research, or the need to protect marriage by opposing its redefinition.

Furthermore, Christians’ freedom to express their views in both the pulpit and the public square about the morality of “gay marriages” and homosexual acts (and to teach their children accordingly) hangs in the balance as sexual innovators and activist judges promote “hate speech” laws that would penalize the expression of Christian opinion.

If we are serious about a just and humane society, we must defend marriage and human life above all, both in public and in private. All other matters are secondary. A society in which vulnerable human life is not protected and in which marriage is made irrelevant will only multiply human miseries and thus become less able to provide for the freedom, peace, and health of others.


1. The piece from which this was drawn appeared originally in James M. Kushiner, “First Things First,” Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity Website (October, 2004),


Grant said...

Marty, I agree with you that Abortion is a huge issue. So huge that it potentially trumps others, though I still wonder why there's nothing (that I see) recorded by Jesus against abortions and/or exposing of infants. Maybe a topic for another day.

That being said, I think Christians need to align themselves with another party to get our pro-life views into law. The Republicans have had our votes for decades and have had the opportunity to put in a solid majority of the supreme court justices (7 of 9), but the law is still the same.

Should we as Christians form a third party (The pro-life party?) to get pro-life legislation finally?


ChosenRebel said...

I would encourage you to read the Day 24 entry at

Christians should never be in the pocket for any party. ANd this side of heaven, we will always be chosing between fallen men and women. Men and women corrupted by and corruptible by the quest and trappings of power. Still, the greatest indicator of future behavior, be it your children, yourself or your favorite candidate, is past behavior.

It may not always be perfectly accurate to look at past votes, but it is usually a good indicator. This year is no different. I may be choosing between the lesser of two evils but I will always choose the one who says and has a track record of speaking, voting and governing for life.

Maybe Chrisitans should start a third party. But they can't this year. This year they can't vote "present". they have to make a choice.

Grant said...

Good response. I understand what you're saying and I just read Day 24. Good entry.

I guess my point is that if we are choosing the lesser of two evils, this involves compromises. If we're truly going to say that Marriage and Abortion trumps everything, then we should vote for Chuck Baldwin in 2008 who has a better track record on these issues in my opinion than McCain or Obama.

Especially in the state of Illinois where there is no contest, this may be a better route for Christians who are truly trying to vote their conscience.

And then we should consider forming a third party for 2012 to finally get our agenda accomplished.

ChosenRebel said...

The "especially in the state of IL" comment is worth considering in this election.

But I thin Christians put entirely too much stock and passion into the whole political arena. Our hope should not be in politicians but in the great Physician, not in governmental structures but in eschatological promises, not in judicial appointments but in Christ the coming judge and savior.

This is a "heart follows your treasure" problem. The more we invest in the political sphere, the more we are tempted to place our trust there rather than in Christ--this from some one who regularly blogs on hot button issues and who has written a 160 page book of political advice for voters. The temptation is to become consumed with out enthusiasms. The hope of the world is not Christians involved in politics in a passionate way. The hope of the world, from a human perspective, is Christians consumed with Jesus Christ.

I think the most sensible and wise vote this year is McCain for President but I'm not going to start pulling out my hair if Obamma is elected.

Take a look at the youtube video below. I think it is filled wisdom.

Grant said...

Good thought, Marty. If I really had to guess, I think the nation with either McCain or Obama is going to be worse-off in many aspects 4 years from now, given the current situation. And if the country itself is in a worse state economically, politically, etc... in 4 years, hopefully more and more people will have turned to God in those tough times.

That being said, I agree that whoever wins will be ok with me. I'm glad it's almost over. :)