“They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them” John 14:21
“I know your works, you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16
In liberal circles, we like to use the phrase, “seeing grey in a world of black and white.” This is the title of a book by Adam Hamilton, which I have heard great things about, yet have not had the chance to read. I like the idea of seeing grey, especially in a world which is so black and white, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican.
However, my views of grey have shifted since reading this article about a new poll which was released by the Pew Research group on Friday. In it they surveyed how religion affects people’s political views and not surprisingly it revealed that on the hot button issues, religion played an important role in their opinion. For same sex marriage it was 35%, abortion 26%, and the death penalty 19%. The respondents were also asked about how much religion factored into their opinions on government assistance to the poor (10%), Immigration (7%), and the environment (6%). Do you see the problem?
Since I do not have the time right now to do a comprehensive study on this, i did a quick survey of google for bible verses and did my own poll to see if the issues which are important to Americans are equally important to the writers of scripture. For the issue of same sex marriage, I found about 7 bible verses which dealt with homosexuality, but none about homosexual marriage. Similarly I found a few bible verses about God making children in their mothers womb, but none specifically about an abortion or when or if one would be acceptible. The death penalty, however, had quite a few scriptural verses. In this case, we might be too lenient. In the Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament), you can receive the death penalty for murder (Ex 21:12), as well as Adulery (Lev 20:10), disobeying your parents (Deut 21:20-21), and picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Num 15:32-36). Now Jesus on the other hand has a few different ideas such as, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged” (Matt 7:1)). and “He who is without sin, cast the first stone” (John 8:7). So therefore that matter gets a little more tricky, but it is definitely important. One out of three ain’t bad.
Now on to the least important things. When I looked up what the bible says about assisting the poor I found a list of over 100 verses while another site cited over 300, all in agreement that we as a society need to take care of those in need. A quick search found that the bible mentions foreigners (immigrants) over 100 times, frequently reminding the Israelites that they were once foreigners in Egypt. And finally, when I was looking up verses on the environment, I used by Green Bible which highlights passages which deal with the environment. On almost every page is at least one section in green ink. Their website cites over 1,000 verses which deal with the earth alone.
I say all of this to say that it is enlightening to realize how our belief in Jesus affects the way we live, the way we interact with others, and the way we vote. The verses I used at the beginning highlight what I think is a central aspect of being a Christian. If you are going to be a member of a church, call your self a follower of Jesus the Christ, and seek to be the person God has called you to be, then that should inform more decisions than how early you are waking up on Sunday morning, or what book you are reading before you go to bed.
Now I am not, at least in this post, advocating what your views should be on issues. I have my own opinions, some of which are perhaps evident in this post, but other people have theirs as well. I am a firm believer that in this world of black and white we need to understand that people differ, however, Jesus was not grey. Jesus was a black or white person. You were either in or out. Not lukewarm. So, if you are going to have an opinion, and you are going to consider yourself a Christian, than that distinction should not be grey. Let your opinions be shaped by earnestly searching scripture and eagerly praying for guidance. If after that process of discernment you come to a conclusion than allow that to guide your decisions, and if that conclusion differs from the result of someone else’s similar process of discernment than in that case we need to be in respectful discussions guided by the humility of the Holy Spirit.
Here is a link to an article: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/17/how-faith-shapes-politics-or-doesnt/
And here is a link to the actual report: http://pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/Few-Say-Religion-Shapes-Immigration-Environment-Views.aspx