A Thoughtful Christian on Politics

I normally try not to write on politics.  Politics are, by their very nature, tremendously divisive and I am trying to appeal to everyone with the love of Christ.  Paul taught us to be “all things to all men that we might by all means save some” and I try to emphasize agreement whenever I can so that I can share with others the love that has transformed my life.  Unfortunately, the work of religious political activists who have bad theology and think that you can save a country through political activism make this impossible.  If I don’t discuss politics to some degree, then people will assume that I am a right-wing conservative because I am a Christian and I don’t see it that way.

I was brought up by liberal parents and I have the distinction of having voted for Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer and Bill Clinton all in the same year.  As Feinstein and Boxer were both Senators from California, those who do not remember the election of 1992 might think that this was impossible, but they would be wrong.  Feinstein won an off-cycle election for the Senate seat vacated by Governor Pete Wilson.  For this reason, I can honestly say that I voted for one of the most liberal tickets in the history of California.  Not only that, but I am also tremendously environmentally conscious having done my Masters degree thesis at UCLA on environmental modeling because I thought that taking care of our environment was one of the most important priorities of our day.  I have, in short, always thought that liberals have very important contributions to make to society and our political discourse.

As I learned more about the world, however, my natural conservatism came to the fore.  As I think any honest person with a knowledge of history must admit, totalitarian governments are the greatest scourge humanity has ever known.  This fact must temper the fervor that liberals have for ubiquitous government intervention.  My positions are, therefore, a blend of the desire to keep government small and efficient while at the same time realizing the economies of scale that are necessary to address larger issues.  To make it clear where I am coming from on various political issues, I offer my take on various issues of importance.

Abortion

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live (Deuteronomy 30:19 ESV)

I believe that God has given us a free will and the ability to choose.  Further than that, in the New Testament, when Peter speaks about imposing the law on Christian believers he explicitly states that the church should not impose the law as a burden on new believers.  For these reasons, I believe that women and homosexuals should have the right to do as they choose.

On the other hand, abortion mills that make an enormous amount of money providing abortions are often the only counselors that a young woman who is confused and scared has before she makes a consequential decision.  She does not know of the research that indicates that many women have psychological issues as a result of an abortion.  She does not know that there can be health consequences to deciding to have an abortion.  She does not know that there are resources that are available for her to give her child up for adoption.  All she knows is told to her by people who have no qualms about abortion despite its health and psychological risks.

I believe that we could record a video presentation by pro-life groups that a woman is required to watch before having an abortion.  This video should be fact-checked in accordance with knowledgeable health professionals so that it is not fear-mongering and would include an appeal along the lines of the one I made in a previous post.  Performing an abortion without showing the woman the video and having her sign an affidavit is illegal.  Many pro-lifers wouldn’t think this would be enough, but I think educating women on the choice they are about to make would eliminate 90% of abortions.  Those who are pro-choice may complain that the video is fear-mongering, but the vetting process is there to ensure this is not the case.  It hardly seems reasonable to advocate that women should make significant health choices without all the facts.

Homosexuality and Gay Marriage

As with abortion above, I believe that homosexuals should be able to choose whatever lifestyle they want.  I believe that the government should allow for civil unions and that churches and other religious groups should be allowed to handle marriage as their conscience and beliefs dictate.  I believe that individuals should have the right to graciously decline to participate in a gay marriage ceremony without being sued or attacked.

Health Care

I live in Canada and the single payer health care system here has always provided excellent care that I have not noticed to be inferior in any way to the health care that I received while living in the United States.  The health insurance model used to provide health care in the United States was horribly broken because insurance is only a viable paradigm when an event is unlikely to occur.  Flood insurance for a house works because a house is unlikely to ever flood.  Car insurance for a horrific accident works because horrific accidents are rare.  Most human beings, on the other hand, are guaranteed to have health care issues as they grow older and the insurance model breaks down.  This being the case, the free market cannot provide a solution and some kind of a government sponsored solution is necessary.

Since only a fraction of the money spent on health care actually makes it to health care providers, eliminating the insurance companies would free up an enormous amount of money to provide health care for those who cannot afford it.  Also, we can use our current information and automation technologies to declare the hospital obsolete and develop mobile medical units that can be used to treat various conditions at home.  Healing at home is conducive to faster recoveries, reduces the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria and reduces costs.

The primary problem of convincing conservatives to agree with this kind of program is the left wing Utopianism that liberals often bring to the table.  If a health care program is presented as a very practical approach to reducing our health care costs while at the same time improving our health care and caring for those who do not have the means, I think many conservatives would get on board.  Sold as a simplistic, Utopian fantasy where leftists want to make everything completely free, however, and conservatives would reject the idea as impractical and undesirable.  Common sense measures such as requiring a small per visit fee to discourage abuse of the system and limiting the provided services to exclude abortion and transgender surgeries (which substantially increase the suicide risk of recipients), therefore, would bring many conservatives on board and ease the process of passage through Congress.

Energy and the Environment

From what I understand, it is widely accepted that using Thorium as a source of nuclear energy could provide cheap, plentiful energy for many generations without creating security risks, accident concerns or hazardous waste.  It seems to me that the U.S. government should invest in developing a Thorium based energy grid that frees us from our dependence on the Middle East, eliminates hydrocarbon emissions and guarantees our leadership in technology and manufacturing for generations.  Jobs are created developing this infrastructure and the cheap and pollution free energy would make manufacturing in the United States highly competitive.

Defence and Foreign Policy

I cannot for the life of me think of a good reason why the United States should be involved in civil wars in the Middle East.  If we do not arm various insurrectionists or kill the leaders of various countries through airstrikes, then the citizens of those countries do not need to become refugees that destabilize Europe and bring terrorism to our shores.  The defence budget should be slashed by 70% and 90% of our foreign bases should be closed.  We should develop a highly mobile force and maintain our substantial technical advantage so that we can support our allies and bring our enemies to the negotiating table.  War should only be a last resort and Congress should have to declare it as specified in the Constitution.

I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.  (Psalm 120:7)

Education

The Common Core initiative is one of those things which seems exactly backwards.  At a time when our technology would allow us to craft multimedia course materials that are highly customized to maximize individual potential, the educational establishment is attempting to come up with “one size fits all” tomes printed on dead wood meant to be used for every student in the country.  The curriculum, for example, teaches multiple different ways to perform simple arithmetic all of which are to be used to teach all students.  Why?  Not every student will find each different approach intuitive.  A more intelligent approach would seem to be developing multimedia course materials that are developed to appeal to children with different innate cognitive abilities.  An approach to teaching mathematics, for example, that is more geared to children that tend to think visually.  We should rethink how to use technology to restructure the classroom and change the role of teachers in the public schools.  We might, for example, have a set of instructional videos which present things to children and have the teachers focus on students who have specific questions about the video presentations.  This would reduce the effective class size and simultaneously improve the quality of education for students of all kinds.

 Conclusion

Many Christians believe that right wing policies come from the Bible.  Liberal Christians tend to discount the Bible and base their policies on their humanist instincts. I agree with and disagree with both sides. I think a fully informed theology should be used to guide our political beliefs.

About Robert V

Former atheist currently living in Toronto.
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