(This article is also posted as audio file read by the author at the end of the post).
Dear John and Jane Public,
Honestly, don't fret over it. I get it. Dear God, I get it. You've found a new god. Truthfully, I've seen this coming for awhile. I tried to deny it. I even tried to change it. (I have to admit, even in all my divine wisdom, I just did not see the whole MLK, contemporary prophet thing not working. But humans, YOU try to figure them out).
You know, there was a brief time there, just after 9/11 that I thought we were going to make it. I really thought you finally “got it.” In the midst of chaos you sought out community. In the midst of anger and fear you united over differences and seemed to be hoping for a greater good. Good times. Hopeful, even.
It's OK, I understand why the new god in your life is so appealing. Sure, it hurts a little, but c'mon, I'm God. Seriously, I'll be OK. This new god of yours is all shiny and is promising you “prosperity.” Let's face it, the certitude of the “prosperity” your new god offers has a particular kind of appeal that the hope of love, peace and grace that I offer you just can't touch. This new God of yours, he offers you everything without sacrifice (well, without sacrifice on your part; others will pay quite dearly), and admittedly I ask a lot of you. I ask you to lay down your life for the sake of others. I ask you to love your enemies and to be a servant of all. Honestly, I get why you want to be with him.
In a lot of ways, it's better like this for now. This relationship between us hasn't been very good for me either. Don't get me wrong, I still love you. You have no idea. But, honestly, you've been more of a user of me than a follower of me. I thought Jesus put it about as clearly as possible when he said, “you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Really, I thought that was pretty clear, but like I said, “Humans, YOU try to figure them out.” You post My name on your money and even added Me to your pledge, but you deny the sacrifice it takes to follow Me every time a child dies of hunger in your nation of plenty, every time a person dies of a curable disease for lack of health insurance, every time you kill people to show them that killing people is wrong. Did you realize that both corporate profits and the poverty rate are growing? That's one Hell of a problem... and I'm finally getting the message.
You know when I really knew it was over? Or at least when I finally admitted it to Myself? In the last two debates. Please, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm God. I know you know. When they cheered for death. Twice. That's when I had to admit it. You see, I came to put an end to death, not celebrate it... at least not that way.
There were lots of tell tale signs. I just love you so much, so I guess I let myself overlook them. Take for instance, until recently it was only the things I created that were considered people, but now the things you've created are considered people. (How something as literally heartless as a Corporation can be treated as a person, in all of My infinite knowledge, I will never understand). I don't think you are actually playing God by doing it (much), but I do think you are denying Me and, in doing so, denying who I created you to be.
I'm not giving up, just giving in a bit, for now. I love you - so much. I will keep sending my prophets. You will know them by their love. If the people you follow are teaching you to hate and fear, to exclude people for any reason, then they are not sent by Me, even if they say they are. So, when your infatuation with this new god of extremism, nationalism, might-makes-right, and privilege is through using you... I'll still be here. Waiting. Loving.
My Peace, Love and Grace to you,
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“In the beginning God created”...us. Shape it however you want, a fairy tale, the literal truth, a divine metaphor for evolution, Christians around the world believe that those words tell us the truth about our relationship with God no matter what our takes are in regards to their literary form. The Creation Stories in Genesis tell us that the life we have is a gift from God. The stories that follow in the 66 books which compile the Protestant Bible, particularly the life of Jesus, remind us that the only reasonable, the only rational response, to that gift, to that act of grace from God is to take care of the gift, including taking care of each other.
When it comes to church attendance, it would seem that the majority of church goers, have missed that point. They lean heavy to the political right and toward policies that actually do the opposite of caring for creation and each other.
Please note, I did not say “when it comes to most Christians.” Unfortunately, the variance between people who practice Christianity and people who attend church is wide and seems to be increasing. And yes, I speak from personal experience as a minister. There are churches, of course, that are bucking the trend, but there are far too few. And, yes, I am speaking from personal experience again.
And yes, your Christian beliefs should influence your politics. They should influence your relationships, your work life, the way you drive, the way you treat people with whom you disagree... every element of your life. If they do not, you are not taking “In the beginning God created” seriously enough. If you do not, you are not taking “no greater love has anyone than this, that they lay down their life for their friends” seriously enough.
Your Christian life is to be first, primary, and above all things in your life, even if it means you must leave a relationship as primary as family to do it: “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,” said Jesus.
I'm left to wonder if the Modern Day Jesus might not say to U.S. church goers that your Christian life is to be above all things in your life, even if it means you must leave a relationship as primary as your political party to do it: “Anyone who loves their political party more than me is not worthy of me.”
You don't have to like it. It is difficult and it will make your life less than... well, less than convenient. Which is, quite frankly, what many on the far right are truly interested in: a life that is easy and convenient – no pressure to give up what I have, even when others suffer, even if it cause others to suffer; no laws limiting my ability to excerpt power other others (a BIG biblical no-no); no strangers from a foreign land encroaching on my white-privilege... I think you get the picture.
You don't have to like it. It is difficult and it will make your life less than... well, less than convenient, but I think that is exactly what Jesus expected. Just read Mathew 10 as Jesus sends out the twelve disciples saying things like, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves,” “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death,” “You will be hated by everyone because of me.” Christianity is antithetical to the far right's pursuit of an easy and convenient life.
Christianity is to be the filter through which all your life's perspectives and actions are filtered. Nothing comes before it and everything is viewed through it. You don't have to like it, and it will be difficult, but if you want to call yourself Christian, you do always have to attempt to do it. That does not mean fighting for a Christian nation, prayer in schools and the Ten Commandments posted on every open wall in government buildings. (In many ways it means the exact opposite of that).
Politically, it simply means voting for and supporting candidates who hold these things to be self evident, that all people were created equal, created equally by God. It means supporting candidates, who because of it, govern with a bias toward the least of these and with a disposition of love and caring toward all people regardless of sex, skin color, religion or lack of religion, nation of origin, sexual orientation, ability or disability, age, economic position, heath, employment, addiction... or any number of things for which the far right continue to try to penalize people.
“In the beginning God created”...us. Not you. Not me. Us. We are the children of God. If one of us suffers, we all suffer. If one of us is marginalized, we all suffer. If one of us goes hungry, we all suffer. We must stop pretending that Christianity is somehow different than that and start voting with our Christian filters on.
Let's just face it, sexual scandal in US politics is more about US politics than sexual scandal. In each event, the “other side” fain disdain for the “God awful, repugnant act.” Of course, when it was their team caught up in the act, they somehow manage to press the mute button on their supposed genuine moral disgust of such behavior.
It's all a game (and that should bother us more than anything). It isn't about morals, it's about politics, and for heavens sake let's start admitting that politics haven't been about morals for a very, very long time – if ever. We are not going to solve any real issues if we allow ourselves to continually get distracted by the sexual side shows . And, yes, I'm saying that sexual hanky-panky is a political side-show. In terms of governmental leadership, it certainly isn't the main event, nor should it be.
We've bought into the idea that sexual promiscuity somehow speaks to an elected official's ability to lead, that it “speaks to their character.” Really?!? They are politicians! Politicians lie; let's stop pretending we are shocked by it. In the current Wiener roast by the press and public, one of the repeated themes of disgruntlement is the fact that he lied to the press about it. Really? A politician lied to the press about something that could effect their ability to continue to lord over we wee minions?
Heavens to Betsy, say it ain't so! The world has gone mad! Really?
Politicians lie. They have power. Some of them, use the power of their office to have sex. Then they use their power to lie about having sex. We act surprised and disturbed. Yet, it will happen again and, sadly, probably soon. And, somehow, we will be surprised and disturbed, yet again.
On a personal level, I'm not a fan of their actions. So, don't read this as a discourse on broadening the acceptance of this kind of behavior, because it is not. I'm just calling out the press, the opposing political side (depending on the sex scandal) and the Church on their less than honest and less than logical take on the whole thing. Let's admit it is political and get on with real governance.
I am particularly bothered by those of us in the Church that try to play the holier-than-thou card by falsely claiming to be the personal bringers of God's judgment on any given situation. This is especially true in matters of sex and politics. The Church tends to get real judgmental, real fast about politicians caught up in sexual scandal and we love to bring down the judgment of God on offenders.
The only thing is, it is not God's judgment; it is our own personal judgment thinly veiled in religiosity. It seems to me that, biblically, God is fairly ambivalent about the whole thing, at least in terms of how a person's ghastly sexual morals relate to their ability to lead. One name: David.
King David is arguably God's greatest political leader. He was plagued by a massive sexual scandal that would effect the rest of his life and the life of his children. His scandal even involved death. It was bad. Yet God did not pass a judgment on him that would remove him from office. God used David to lead a nation. So, let's stop playing political games with the name of God. (That actually turns out to be something with which God is very concerned - the whole "You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God..." commandment thing).
So, in summary:
1) Politicians lie. Stop pretending like it is surprising.
2) Like too many non-politicians (who don't lose their jobs), some politicians have sex outside of their committed relationship. It happens. It is deplorable. It will continue to happen. Stop pretending like it is surprising.
3) Sexually indiscriminate people can still be good leaders even though they are horrible spouses.
4) God has no problem using those people to lead.
5) So, stop co-opting Christianity in thinly veiled inferences in order to pass your personal or political judgment.
6) Turns out God is a little sensitive about the things we claim in God's name, particularly when all we are really trying to do is hurt someone else or get our own way.
Does God care who you vote for? No.
Let's just get that straight. I am sick and tired of politicians and ministers telling us that there is one candidate that God wants elected and one the God wants to lose. The fact of the matter is, God just doesn't care. You see, God's will is much bigger than any single candidate. God has set Creation on a trajectory toward God's peaceable kingdom. Even elections we point to as historically important, like whether Bush or Gore won the Presidency in 2000, do not change the reality of God's plans for humanity one little iota.
So to those yelling from the stump that they are God's chosen one or yelling from the pulpit that they can tell you who is God preferred candidate... STOP IT! I will not sit idly by as you use God's name in vain to serve your own self serving purposes.
Because that is the thing God actually does care about. God doesn't care who you vote for, but God does care why you vote for your chosen candidate. Are you voting based on self-serving perspectives or focusing on something higher? More specifically, are you letting your biased '-isms' (classism, sexism, racism, heterosexism, etc.) guide your will, are you letting your fears control your mind, or are you witnessing to the teachings of Jesus as you sort through mountain of mis-information in hopes of finding the pony in the room full of malarkey?
Are you looking for the candidate that shows outward signs of loving their neighbor? Because if your candidate is telling you that some people don't deserve to have their basic needs met, you are not. Are you looking for the candidate that encourages you to love your enemy? Because if your candidate encourages you to fear Muslims, you are not. (Not that Muslims are actually our enemy, they are not, but some candidates would have you believe they are). Are you looking for the candidate that believes God created us all equally? Because if your candidate is interested in taking away someone's ability to function as equal, you are not.
Because that's what matters. You see, this isn't about the candidates, this is about you. God isn't interested in who is elected but rather in why you elect them. With absolutely no uncertainty, we are told by Jesus to seek first the peaceable kingdom of God. That is not a place were some people have more rights than others; where fear not only rules the day but it rules our minds; and where the sick, the hungry and the thirsty go without their needs being met. God's peaceable kingdom is a place where all are welcome at the table of God; where there is no suffering or sorrow; where the first shall be last; and where the meek inherit the earth, the merciful obtain mercy and those who work for justice find the peaceable kingdom.
When you vote are you voting to bolster an earthly kingdom or are you voting to help usher in God's peaceable kingdom - that's what God cares about.
Of course, there is no candidate that ever comes close to that standard, but there are some that are very clearly nowhere close to it. So, yes at times the reality will be voting for the lesser of two evils. But the only thing more evil than voting for the lesser of two evils would be not voting at all out of some personal sense of a higher moral ground, because doing nothing is the theological equivalent of pointing to Jesus and saying, "I do not know this man." For when you do it unto the least of these so too you do it unto him.
Does God care who you vote for? Clearly not, but God does care why you vote for your chosen candidate. So go vote. Do it wisely. Do it with biblical integrity. And for heavens sake, seek first the kingdom of God rather than earthly kingdoms.