Monday, October 1, 2007

Compassion and Humility

My sister April posted below on "Why I'm Voting Democrat." Her comments were so good that I want to create a new post to carry the discussion forward to folks who might not click on the comment section.

First of all, I share April's frustration with the church. In speaking of Christians' common attitude toward abortion and homosexuality (and possibly the poor), she wrote: This "is however, one of the reasons that I am not activally involved in any church at this point. I get so disgusted with the way that churches as a whole (I know there are those out there who don't do this) preach so hard against these things and literally outcast any who don't fall within 'their ideals'. I don't see how this is the way that Jesus would have acted, nor do I think that He wants the church to do so today."
I couldn't agree more. If you've been reading the sermons I've preached on Luke 15 and the one I just posted on Luke 13 (from before I had this blogsite running), I hope you'll see that I expect and hope for something very different from the church. We have become far to prideful as a church, too easily affirming our own righteousness and rightness and pointing out the sinfulness or wrongness of others. Our deepest needs now are for more compassion and humility - two traits for which Jesus is most famous.
I hope that you and anyone else out there who has given up on church because of our glaring failures will give church another try. Find a church that is really, honestly trying to follow Jesus and explore the options of engaging in a spiritual community there. We, as a church, haven't done such a good job of following Jesus lately, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't keep coming together in groups to keep trying to stumble and swerve toward Jesus together.

I think you may have misunderstood me, though. On most of the points where you say we disagree, I don't see all that much disagreement.
I do believe abortion is wrong, but I vehemently disagree with the tactics and attitude of many (if not most) pro-life advocates. Demonizing prochoice supporters is stupid and wrong. In fact, I wrote Focus on the Family a very challenging letter calling on them to repent in the face of the gospel for their consistent malevolence toward "liberals." I gladly support active birth control, and when Planned Parenthood or other agencies help with this, I am grateful. As a society, I think we should be focusing at least as much (and probably more) attention on supporting women before, during, and after conception (no matter the result - delivery, miscarriage, or abortion) through things like counseling, birth control, adoption options, prenatal care, support for single moms, etc. In our well-intentioned efforts to protect the innocent children, many Christians have created equal victims of the mothers and others who are trying to do what they think is right. The right attitude here is compassion for all - not hostility.
As for homosexuality, most of the same comments apply. I think Christian marriage is with one man and one woman, but I don't think that's a fight worth fighting in the political arena for a people who have no claim or desire to be Christians. Fighting this fight (and many other fights against homosexuality), does little or nothing to help the cause of Christ and does much to harm the church, society as a whole, and the influence of Christians in the world. April has wonderfully stated what Jesus would do (and hence what Christians should do): "He would instead reach out His arms to them in love and acceptance for who they are - people. And love them into the fold." Again, compassion and humility are the most needed traits here.
As for caring for the poor, this is the biggest single reason why I am siding with the Democrats. April is right, not providing comprehensive health care for everyone is penny-wise and pound-foolish. "Socialism" has become a red herring word that Republicans throw out. It has little or no meaning, and wouldn't we really want a little more socialism if it means children getting vaccines and being able to see a doctor when they have the flu or a hardworking father being able to go to the doctor when he has heart trouble? I just can't see Jesus turning down health care for everyone so that the rich can get better and better (more and more elite) treatment. Once again, compassion (feeling the plight of the uninsured) and humility (actually believing that the poor are just as valuable as the middle class and the rich, and being willing to share some of our resources to affirm that value) are needed here.

Compassion and humility. When will we become more like Jesus?
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