A Change is Gonna Come

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Gentle Reader,

I’ve made no secret of my fascination with politics and my particular interest in (alarm over?) the upcoming presidential election. A love of history and news combined with hearing from both parents and teachers that it is a privilege and a duty to participate in the democratic process pretty much guaranteed that I would be a political nerd.

But I’m beginning to wonder if the Amish and Mennonites don’t have it right.

There’s no hard rule that I’ve been able to find that dictates non-voting for all Amish or Mennonite groups, but from what I understand they generally avoid the ballot box. This is based in the idea of “two kingdoms,” the worldly and the spiritual; while the worldly government is to be respected, Christians are to adhere to the laws of the spiritual kingdom, even if those laws bring them into direct conflict with the worldly kingdom.

I was first exposed to the “two kingdoms” doctrine as a young teenager, when I listened to a radio dramatization of the life of Deitrich Bonhoeffer. It took root in me deeply. I do believe that Christians should respect governmental authorities, but I also believe that our first and lasting allegiance must be to God. We must do as He says, even if this winds up meaning jail-time or death (as so many of our brothers and sisters in other, less comfortable countries experience today). I believe that following Christ will almost inevitably lead to civil disobedience in one way or another.

I have publicly stated that I will be voting for Gary Johnson, as he is essentially a moderate. I do not agree with all of his positions, but I am a moderate as well. I hold stances that are both “conservative” and “liberal.” The two major parties are basically the same at this point, wrapped up in a gridlock that does this country no good. It’s time our officials, who supposedly work for us, look past these allegiances and begin listening to each other. A president that is beholden to neither side of the aisle may help to accomplish this.

And yet…I grow increasingly uncomfortable filling in that bubble and sliding that sheet into the closed-topped blue box and hearing the election volunteer somberly announce that “Marie Gregg has voted.” With a little over two weeks before that momentous day, I wonder if I will vote at all.

If I do, I have a strong sense that this will be the last time.

The “Christianization” of society will not be achieved through votes or laws or strategy. In fact, this will never be achieved at all. Point blank: Read the Bible, people. Get over your laziness and your anti-intellectualism and start studying. Further, take a look at some world history. There never has been and there never will be any such thing as a “Christian nation,” either here in America or anywhere else. It is a concept not taught anywhere in Scripture.

Does America need to be made great again? Is it great already? Does America need to be saved?

Should we not be more concerned about those who may drown in a foundering ship of state than we are about plugging the ship’s holes? Should we not be busily engaged in throwing out life preservers to the passengers than in attempting to become the captain(s)?

I don’t know if I can in good conscience participate in this or any other election going forward. I really don’t. Something deep within, the strong heart-fluttering feeling I have come to recognize as the movement of the Holy Spirit, whispers that my eyes need not be on the person in the Oval Office but rather on the One who sits on the throne. That I must be about His business.

Is His business to overturn Roe v. Wade or is it to quietly invest in the life of woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant?

Is His business to worry about “religious rights” or is it to share the Gospel, heedless of the cost?

I leave you with these words from the apostle. Wrestle with them as I am.

…you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

– 1 Peter 2:9-17 (NKJV)

God, grant Your people wisdom.

Grant me wisdom.

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Addendum: I couldn’t figure out how to fit this into the above, but I am hearing some say that, if Clinton is elected, that all those who do not vote for Trump are guilty of everything that happens following. This is both straying very close to idolatry (if not outright engaging in it) and straight-up illogical reasoning. Please, do abandon this line with all haste. Neither Clinton or Trump is the savior of the country or any person in it. Nobody is guilty of anything Clinton or Trump does, says, feels, thinks or believes other than Clinton and Trump.

They Call Us “Hypocrites” – They are Not Wrong

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Gentle Reader,

My people.

Evangelicals.

What does the word even mean anymore?

Today, instead of pointing to those who are given over to the spreading of the Good News, the term appears to equate with jackassesHypocrites. Devastatingly so.

I’ll get to the point: If you are using David’s or Solomon’s adultery to excuse Donald Trump’s words and behavior, then you are wrong. You do not have a hermeneutical leg to stand on.

Does God forgive unreservedly all who ask in sincerity? Yes. Of course. No doubt.

This does NOT mean that there are no consequences.

Let’s look at David and the aftermath of his infamous affair with Bathsheba.

Consider the opening verses of Psalm 51:

Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

– vs. 1-2 (NKJV)

Contrast them with:

‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.'”

– 2 Samuel 12:10-12 (NKJV)

God did indeed forgive David.

But he lived out the rest of his days in strife.

Here’s a little Interpretation 101: Just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t mean that God is okay with it. What the honesty of Scripture reveals is the honesty of God. He inspired the authors to present the sweeping story in all of its terribleness. The breadth and depth of human depravity is on full display, showing our inability to self-correct and achieve righteousness. Against this dark backdrop splashes the pure brilliance of the Savior.

Mr. Trump has lived a life devoid of respect for others, particularly women. Edit: My friend Andrew pointed out the danger of generalizations. We do not know every thought Mr. Trump has ever had, every action he’s ever taken. My comment is based only on how Mr. Trump has chosen to present himself to the public. He has at least appeared to take great delight in shocking and demeaning others. Can this be corrected? Can his heart be changed? Can the same Jesus who saved me save Him? Absolutely.

Yet there are consequences. Lifelong ones, even. For as “they” say, whoever “they” are, sins always find us out. Those who cry that Mrs. Clinton should be charged for her crimes would do well to seriously ponder their defense of Mr. Trump. If her actions follow her, then so do his. If her character is attested to in every action and comment, then so is his. There cannot, should not, be a double standard.

Here’s what we’re really getting down to: a lust for power. Church leaders who continue to uncritically back Mr. Trump, sling mud at Mrs. Clinton and engage in fear-mongering over Supreme Court justices have lost sight of what the mission truly is:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

– Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

Jesus does not say, “Be sure to vote for a candidate who might appoint justices who can possibly get through a Senate hearing so that Roe v. Wade will maybe be overturned.” He does not say, “Make sure that you do all that you can to ensure your political power and influence.”

None of that.

He speaks the above words to men and women who will immediately experience persecution for their obedience:

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

– John 15:18-19 (NKJV)

Jesus does not say, “Yes, do be afraid. Do worry about what will happen if someone you don’t like is elected to the position of President. Do lament and sigh with great woe. Do wring your hands.”

What is that you want, you who claim the name of Christ? To be the loudest voice in a screaming world? To place a thin veneer of morality over society, expecting those who do not have the Spirit of the Living God within to behave as if they do? If you choose to be a single-issue voter or a person who casts a ballot out of fear, that’s all you can hope to achieve – and that is not an achievement at all.

Or do you want to cast yourself fully upon the sovereignty of God, knowing that you do not belong to this world? Knowing that you are a pilgrim? Knowing that you have a job to do, and that you cannot complete it through natural means? Knowing that you are called to fix your eyes upon Jesus, no matter how the storm rages or how the environment shifts or how hostile people become?

If at the end of the day you wish to vote for Mr. Trump, then do. If you find his proposed policies and philosophies of government sound, then check that box. But please stop believing that he is anymore “moral” a choice than the others. He is not. Stop believing that the GOP is the “party of God.” It is not.

As this incident unfolds, I am appalled by the attitude of those who call themselves evangelical Christians. Again, God can and does forgive. We should hope and pray that Mr. Trump has genuinely repented. At the same time, our response to this should not be the error of eisegesis, to read into the Bible conclusions we have already made, to assume that “because David did it,” all is well. Our response should not be unflinching defense of this or any other candidate. Our response should not be to deflect and say, “But look at what Clinton did!”

And certainly our response should not be, “All men talk like that.”

They categorically do not, and no woman is required to put up with those who do.

Either we care about character or we do not. Either we focus on the Gospel or we focus on clawing and scraping for societal domination. The choice is ours to make. And it is a choice. A binary. This road or that.

We cannot travel both.

We cannot hold onto the world with one hand and hold onto God with the other.

We must do better.

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Addendum: I know that someone is going to cry “foul” because I plan to vote for Gary Johnson and he clearly holds some positions that are contrary to Scripture. I do not pretend that Mr. Johnson is a perfect candidate and I do not pretend to agree with him on every issue. I choose Mr. Johnson because I find him to be the sanest candidate in an insane election cycle, even after the “Aleppo gaffe” and the “tongue thing.” I choose Mr. Johnson because, as a for-the-most-part Libertarian, I do not believe that it is the job of government to do what the Church is meant to do. I choose Mr. Johnson because the two-party system is irrevocably broken. I choose Mr. Johnson because I refuse to “vote strategically,” for that method simply doesn’t work. For more on this topic, please see “Laws & Hearts.”

If you are interested in reading an excellent argument for Evan McMullin, please see this.

Libertarian Lady

porcupine

Gentle Reader,

Painkillers shorten my temper.

Three months to go.

August, September, October.

Then the circus will end and a new one will begin.

I am heartily sick of the entire election process. We’ve been in this for over a year. Enough already. Enough with the screaming and the name-calling and the whining and the scheming and the polls and the predictions. Enough with trying to determine who’s more patriotic or who Jesus would vote for.

No political party should ever be linked to Christianity. Full stop. Should Christians seek to ground our votes in a biblical worldview? Yes. Should we be single-issue voters? No. Should we assume that any party platform is always going to be in line with Scripture? No. Do we have the right to say that one believer has “betrayed God” by voting for a certain party or candidate? No.

Study the issues. Read up on what the candidates say they want to do. Then realize that it’s Congress that does things. The Executive Branch has limited power – by design. Those seeking the office can make as many promises as they want but that doesn’t mean their particular vision will come to pass. Remember that the next President will be choosing Supreme Court justices.

And for pity’s sake stop believing that it has to be Trump or Clinton.

If you want to vote Trump, fine. If you want to vote Clinton, fine. But don’t choose either because you think you have to. Don’t go with the whole “lesser of two evils” thing.

Barring some radical change in the next 12-14 weeks, I will be voting for former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. What’s a Libertarian, you ask? In a nutshell:

common-sense-on-issues-WA

Do I agree with everything in this image? No. Do I agree with every word of the party platform? No. Do I agree with everything Gary Johnson has ever said or done? No.

I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal. This means that while I abhor abortion, I don’t think that Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned, and, even if it is, that won’t stop women from seeking abortions. This means that while I hold to marriage as being between one man and one woman, legislating one way or the other won’t stop homosexual (or polyamourous, for that matter) couples from being together. This means that while I think it’s insane that anyone can buy a gun at Wal-Mart and I definitely believe that there should be rigorous background checks, I can’t deny that the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms and since we haven’t ever bothered to pause and clarify what that means, go get your rifle. This means that while I think using marijuana recreationally is stupid, I can’t see how it should be illegal when alcohol isn’t.

In essence, you have the right to live your life as you want, even if I disagree with your choices. Neither the Republican or Democrat parties seem to understand this as of right now. You cannot and should not police thoughts. You cannot and should not change the meaning of words. You cannot and should not live in fear of “the other” all the livelong day.

I vote Libertarian because I want a small government. I vote Libertarian because I think the Church should provide for the poor and helpless; we’ve turned that job over to the government and we should feel shame for doing so. I vote Libertarian because it’s not the end of the world that two lesbians live across the street from me. I vote Libertarian because I don’t think that the Internet should be regulated. I vote Libertarian because I believe in real immigration reform, reform that would make it easier for people fleeing war and poverty to come here the right way. I vote Libertarian because I’m basically a moderate, a centrist. I vote Libertarian because I want our military troops to come home. I vote Libertarian because the middle class shouldn’t bear the burden of paying for entitlements that will not, cannot last. I vote Libertarian because I believe the judiciary’s job is to interpret and apply law, not create it from the bench. I vote Libertarian because we desperately need to place term limits on every elected position throughout the nation. I vote Libertarian because the education initiatives of the past nearly two decades aren’t working. I vote Libertarian because I despise SuperPACS and corporations controlling the outcome (and as much as Clinton complains about Citizens United, she’s taken more than her fair share from Wall Street). I vote Libertarian because I don’t believe Planned Parenthood should receive a dime collected through taxation, federal or state. I vote Libertarian because Republican and Democrat are two sides of the same, old, tired, no longer working coin.

Really, how is it working for you, voting in gridlock year after year?

Our system is broken.

Ultimately I vote Libertarian because my job as a Christian isn’t to press laws on people, thereby coating society with a thin veneer of morality. My job as a Christian is to share the Gospel, whenever and however I can, not to force people to live by its tenets when there has been no heart change, no transformative encounter with Christ.

These are my convictions. Please, go find yours. Read. Think. Pray. Don’t go with the flow. Don’t vote out of fear. Don’t despise others. Figure out what you believe, what is dear to you, and go from there. If that means you vote Trump, fine. If that means you vote Clinton, fine. If that means you vote Johnson, fine. If that means you vote Stein, fine.

But please, I beg of you – really think about it.

My journey to faith. (15)

If you think I’m absolutely insane for refusing to align with either major party, check this out.

Five Minute Friday: News

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

Linking up with the flash writing crew. Kate asks us to dwell on: news.

Go.

The news is tough to handle these days.

Dr. Ben Carson suspends his presidential campaign in the wake of Donald Trump’s “Super Tuesday”wins. Hillary Clinton nabs delegate after delegate despite being the subject of an FBI investigation. Support for Trump grows among racists; twenty percent of his base dislikes the Emancipation Proclamation. Bernie Sanders preaches democratic socialism in a country weighed down with a debt in excess of $19 trillion.

Riots break out in Calais as French authorities attempt to dismantle a refugee camp known as “The Jungle.” North Korea rumbles, threatening nuclear action. Islamic State members riddle the city of Ramadi with booby-traps. The Oscar for Best Documentary Short goes to A Girl in the River: the Price of Forgiveness, a film that highlights “honor killings” in Pakistan. Tensions along the Ukraine/Russian border continue to boil in a war the rest of the world seems to have forgotten.

What is this place? What is the world?

Does sin increase or does it simply become more acceptable? Does the answer even matter? Men and women howl, fueled by the lust and rage to which they give themselves over. The earth seems to convulse in pain and terror.

Where are Christians in all this?

Howling.

All too often, howling.

Right along with the rest of the population.

We have serious repenting to do. Our selfishness, our prejudice, our fear, our pride, our hatred, our lack of thinking and of wisdom. We must fall to our knees, to our faces, in sorrow. In horror over the depth of our sin. Aching, crying, for grace. We who should, who do, know better.

There is no such thing as perfection this side of eternity. Not in people, not in things. But there are such things as right and good. There are things we need to do, people we need to support. The important thing is not that we are on the “winning” side in political contests or wars over territory. We have already won everything that really matters, because Christ has won. We must remember this.

Let us be the people who are moved by the news. Moved not to combat, not to doing things as the world does, but ever-deeper into the arms of Christ. Let us be the people who do not forget that God is sovereign. Let us ask Him to transform our hearts, that the desire for a clear conscience might replace the desire and drive to win at all costs. Let us strive to be servants instead of to dominate others.

Let us be the Gospel people, the people of the Good News.

No matter the headlines.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)