Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Sincere Question

Well, as we've seen in previous posts, it seems just about any topic can get controversial! But convention dictates that religion and politics are the most volatile of subjects in which to engage with your friends.

I got to thinking the other day and though I know that on the surface, it seems I'm mixing politics and religion with this question, I promise that I'm not trying to be controversial. I just think it makes for an interesting discussion. The only rule is please don't argue it from any specific religion's viewpoint, just Biblical. And you may suggest third parties as an answer. The question?

Was Jesus a Democrat or Republican?

Have fun! :)


emily said...

Neither. Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world. He is compassionate, loving, merciful, and just. He wouldn't take a side like that. His will is the Father's will, which is to do good and to save mankind.

Boquinha said...

Okay, let me rephrase. Based on what we know about Jesus, would he be a Democrat or Republican?

Shawn said...

I don't believe he would associate himself with any political party. Nor do I believe that I can answer this questions in a simple response to a post. I typed out an answer but it was so long that no one would have read it. If felt and read like a dissertation. I outlined the background of the parties, their fundamental objectives and their approach to economic policy and moral issues.

Since I figure you only really want my conclusion, it is that Christ would have been a Republican. Why? He wants his children to be compassionate, but to choose compassion, to be generous, but to do so voluntarily, to care for the earth, but to do so through their own personal actions, to value the life of his children at all costs and finally to respect and honor the sanctity of marriage. Christ does not want us to be commanded in all things but to many good things of our own free will.

That said, neither party is promoting the issues important to Christ. That's because he is interested in our eternal wellbeing and our government is not. Should lead to good debate though!

Jagged Rocks said...

I would have to say neither. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). To me that means that he would do things the way they needed to be done so that we may be eternally happy, regardless of politics.

Boquinha said...

Ooooh, a dissertation! Fun! I would be interested in the disseration, truth be told. But okay, let's talk about the conclusion. Very interesting argument to take the agency perspective and apply it to Republicanism. Very interesting! I hadn't thought of that angle. Maybe not a Republican, then, but a Federalist?

Remember, don't get too religious or you miss the point. Think of this as you might a writing assignment or an English paper (a la "Bible as Literature" class at BYU). Don't take it too seriously either--this isn't blasphemy! This is analytical exploration. When you look at the characteristics of Jesus as laid out in the New Testament, would those characteristics fit under a Democratic or Republican heading?

It's a really interesting question, honestly. I've Googled it and most sites (including some conservative, right-wing sites!) argue that he'd be a Democrat. And I think their arguments are good (do good to all, take care of all, helping the poor more than the rich). Quite honestly, some aspects of the Pharisees might fit under . . . what, communism? I'm not sure. I'd love to hear thoughts on that, too. But that's what Jesus spoke *against* -- the Pharisees. So I supposed it'd be good to figure out what they represent in this analogy.

Anyway, there are very good arguments for Jesus fitting as a Democrat. I've heard prominent Mormon Democrats support this very point. Oops, no mention of specific religion. I was saying. There are good arguments for Jesus fitting as as Democrat. Very good ones. That's why Shawn's "agency" angle is intriguing. Agency is a BIG hot button topic for me so this could be a good selling point for the argument. But I'd love to hear more thoughts on this from more people, even if it's a dissertation.

April (Thorup) Oaks said...

Oooh! I have got to say I really don't like this question at all. I'm not sure it's reverent enough. However, I REALLY liked what Shawn said above. Well put. The abortion issue comes to mind too. Could Jesus really support the democratic party? Why am I answering? I'm going to regret pushing publish but here I go...

Boquinha said...

Interesting, April! Thanks for pushing publish. ;) I wasn't really thinking of the party issues as much as their ideologies, so considering the issues brings a whole new light to the conversation. That could start a whole branch discussion--Mark and I have been talking about how Republicans discussing issues is kind of funny since they believe in the government being more hands off (so why are they even addressing issues)? Really, it's because the 2-party system doesn't really represent us all so well. Whatever happened to states deciding issues? Ugh.

Anyway, I think of this as more of a poltical issue than a religious one. Again, like a "make you think" writing assignment.

Boquinha said...

You know? Maybe Libertarian. I'm hoping Lena chimes in because a lot of her points on the other thread resonate with Libertarian ideas. And I think a case could be made for that as well.

By the way, I want to address abortion. I am against abortion--my opinion is that it's wrong. I used to believe that I couldn't vote Democratic based on that issue alone. I thought that it would somehow mean that I was supporting abortion. I've since learned more about how erroneous that thinking is as well as how important it is to vote based on the big picture and not just on one issue alone (like I used to). Democrats don't necessarily support abortion. They support the right to choose. Agency. They simply don't believe it should be legislated. This is why Mitt Romney was able to change his mind on the issue--he still doesn't believe abortion is right. He just doesn't believe in government forcing the issue. (Reminiscent really of the whole war in heaven--one plan to enforce and MAKE everyone be good and another that allows agency to choose so that we can learn). Once I viewed it that way, I could see another perspective and it made sense to me. I think a lot of thigns are despicable but I also believe in the basic morality of people so that not everything needs be legislated.

These issues get convoluted. I used to favor the death penalty. Now, I do not. I couldn't pull the switch, why would I expect someone else to do it? It's another form of murder and I don't think it's my place to play God like that. Yet, many Republicans support the Death Penalty.

The war. This is probably the biggest issue that has made me switch parties. Thousands of people are dying because of the war. Thousands more are being psychologically and emotionally and mentally affected for life. I'm not sure how "Christian" that is either. I personally don't think it is. I am a peace-loving and life-affirming person, so supporting war doesn't jive with my core beliefs and feelings. And I feel it's important that I stand up for that. (To be clear, I do support the troops). Let me state that lest it get twisted otherwise.

So, it's very tricky. We really can't vote based on one issue alone when so many are at stake. I'm anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, and anti-war--pretty much pro-life all over the place, truth be told. I value life. I value life very, very much. So technically, I don't align perfectly with either party, but given that list, I lean more Democratic since I believe the party to be more life-affirming. (Interesting, since I used to think the total opposite--but like I've said, the war has changed that for me).

So, issues make this discussion very interesting. I imagine Jesus as someone who wouldn't support war, as one who loves peace, as one who values life, as one who puts great emphasis on the one, on life, on love for all, even our enemies. I imagine he'd use more diplomatic means (just as he did when he lived on earth) to resolve conflict.

I don't think it's odd to consider Jesus with regard to politics. I consider God when I think about how to be a spouse, how to be a parent, how to be a good human being. I often ask myself, "How does God parent?" and things like that. It's questions like that that make Him much more real to me and much less some untouchable being who is inaccessible to me. This makes him so much more real to me, so much more personal. This is the very meaning of likening scriptures to us--specifically in this case, specifically likening the life he led (as far as we know) to how we live ours.

emily said...

I don't see how you can not be religious when talking about Jesus. I've never been good at analytical exploration.

As for war, no I don't think Jesus is for war. But I do think there are wars that are just--as in the Book of Mormon--and that those men who were leading the fight were inspired by the Spirit of Christ. I'm also pro-life. But I was for the war in Iraq when it started and I'm for it now. I didn't like how we got there--ignoring the UN, going alone, no WMDs--but if for the only reason of getting Saddam out, I think it was the only choice we could make, if we value life. And I think we need to stay until the job is done.

That was an odd tangent. Sorry.

Boquinha said...

I don't think that's a strange tangent at all. I think this very much applies. It's one that's really difficult to reconcile using scripture that way because one can both condemn and justify war, depending on one's viewpoint.

I very much disagree with how we went into Iraq and now that we're there, I'm for responsible withdrawal (in fact, it's a pet peeve of mine when people of either party make comments about how it's time for the Iraqis to step up and clean up the mess. Um, who made the mess? Yes, help them take over, but let's not act like this was entirely their idea). So, while I do believe these things, I still believe that Jesus of the New Testament taught peace more than war--turn the other cheek, forgiveness, love your enemy, and so forth. He was a pacifist.

I agree that there may be times when, unfortunately, war is justified. I love this quote by Jimmy Carter:

"War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children."
--Jimmy Carter (1924 - )

Poignant sentiment and well said.

I think going in and getting Saddam out of power was a good thing, yes, but I wish that had been the reason to go in, rather than lies. And I very much dislike the holier-than-thou imposition our President keep proclaiming about us ensuring they have a democracy for a government. There are MANY different kinds of governments in the world that run effectively and while I think what we have in the USA is wonderful and works for us, I think it's ignorant to impose it on other countries, *especially* when you consider the culture and history of that particular area of the world. And every time I hear it said that we're ensuring a democracy, I cringe. It's so arrogant--it's like saying "Our way is THE best and only way and we know better than you and you must do this." We'd be more than a little peeved if someone came into our country and imposed their form of government on us. So yes, get Saddam out of power? Sure. Impose our form of government on others? Not necessarily, no.

And while I'm glad that we've been able to remove a horrible tyrant from power where he was hurting so many, what outrages me is that we're not doing the same in other parts of the world Where's Bin Laden? How on earth can we do nothing about what's happening in Tibet? It's despicable! And what about the genocide in Sudan and other parts of the world? What about the immense poverty and famine in Africa? Why do we not swoop in and save those who need help? I know we can't be everywhere--we don't have those resources. (And don't even get me started on poverty in our own nation). But how in the world can we ignore the atrocities around the world and focus only on one place, an oil-rich country at that? I hate to be cynical, but follow the money. What return do we have in places like impoverished Africa? Not as much as the Middle East. It's so sad. More than sad, it's an outrage.

I certainly don't have all the answers and this is something we discuss often as a family. I love to hear our children's common sense answers--just get along, don't fight . . . I wonder how the world would run if children were in charge. Of countries. Of the UN. Of the world. Somehow I think they'd run it a bit more like Jesus would.

April (Thorup) Oaks said...

I'm with you Emily. Sometimes war is necessary. Can you imagine Jesus being against WWII when it came to getting Hitler out of power? I can't. How could have diplomatic means helped in Hitler's case? It started with diplomatic means and didn't work. Millions more good people would have died if Hitler wasn't forced out as quickly as possible.

This also kind of relates to the death penalty for me. Would Jesus think killing Hitler, and his main men, was bad when it saved so many people? Or let's say you could have caught them and just put them in jail for their lives (unfortunately, this would have been near impossible anyway, especially without war)... would Jesus be against giving them the death penalty at that time? I don't think so if it helped prevent others from following in Hitler's ways by setting a law with a great punishment. I'm not a good debater at all - someone else could do a much better idea with those thoughts. I will say however, we do know of biblical times when God killed people because they were wicked, right? Death isn't always the worst thing that can happen. In a way that is the same concept of today's death penalty... God could have given them terrible punishments to live with through their lives, but He chose the death penalty. Since these things are written in the scriptures it is a warning to all of us that God does not approve of wickedness and there can be serious consequences to our actions. The death penalty today sends the same message. Sure, no one is God, but God expects us to govern ourselves and to do the work needed to have peace. I am not God and I would never want to have to make that choice myself but, on a personal level, if someone was attacking my children should I allow it if the only other choice meant defending them by killing the attacker? Would God condemn me for doing that?

As for abortion. I am pro-choice BEFORE a person gets pregnant. There are lots of choices people can make to ensure they DON'T have babies that do not involve abortion. When a person is pregnant their choices affect another person and I do not believe killing that baby should be acceptable. I certainly don't believe in killing newborn babies, why would I support killing any baby? I know others think life starts later than I do, but I still think abortion is often a very selfish act when there was so much that could have been done to prevent the pregnancy in the first place. I think pro-choice is ridiculous after a person is pregnant when again, so many choices could have been made earlier. In this day and age Jesus could not support the democratic party because of this issue. HOWEVER, Christ would not put himself in the place where he would have to decide on these parties would he? He is letting us decide and I DO believe you can be in Christ's good standing and vote as a democrat. I don't like the question of this debate because if Christ was to be republican or democrat that would suggest that the other is evil... at least that is how I view the question. There is good (and bad) to both parties. I know you don't mean it like that Stacy. Again, that is just what the question personally suggests to me. I understand that may not be where you wanted this question to go.

April (Thorup) Oaks said...

Looks like we were typing at the same time (again) Stacy. It looks like we do have many of the same opinions when it comes to war.

April (Thorup) Oaks said... long as I'm writing a book...

Stacy, I'm surprised that you think Shawn's agency angle is interesting. That is EXACTLY why I will vote republican. That is everything that is important to me when it comes to voting that way. I think working hard is what Christ wants us to do. I think He is happy with people that can build up big businesses and support others (not everyone does obviously). I think Christ wants us to be the best we can and accomplish as much as we can. I think He wants us to be self-sufficient and use our agency to give back to others. Self-sufficiency is a big thing to me when it comes to voting republican. I think people should be encouraged to be self-sufficient and then give back to others.

At a conference I heard someone say something about they didn't know if it was good to make a lot of money. They thought it was bad to be wealthy. The point was then quickly made that you can help a lot more people if you actually have money to help them with. Again, I know not all people do help those in need. A lot of people don't share their wealth, but when are you truly wealthy? I think most Americans are extremely wealthy. Even some of the poorest living in small old apartments are wealthy compared to so many people in this world. Who are we to complain about the rich when WE ARE RICH. Is it fair poor Americans have so much when others live in shacks with no plumbing? Where do we draw the line on who is rich and who is not? Again, I think wealth is a good thing because you NEED it to help more people. Can you imagine how much better some of these third world countries could be if more people were able to build up successful businesses?

Do we all remember this quote by Marianne Williamson (quoted by Nelson Mandela)?

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others"

I am a fan of big business and self-suffiency. I think Christ would be too, although by saying that I’m not suggesting that the democrats don’t have Christlike ideals. Perhaps Christ could support either way if our country were run perfectly on either republican or democratic ideals. The key word being perfect.

Boquinha said...

The war issue is one on which people tend to project what they *think* the other person is thinking, but really it's not so black and white--one of my favorite articles that a former bishop and I really enjoyed about war and Christianity is this one. It's a short article and I highly recommend it since he explains well the idea of Christ's teaching on this topic. Dr. Wayne Dyer is often on PBS and is a favorite speaker of mine.

I have a question for April. What do you mean by your comment that you're surprised that I think Shawn's agency angle is interesting? What I was saying is that I think he made a very good argument that I had not considered before (which is part of why I love debate). I know some people say "interesting" to imply they don't agree while still sounding nice, but that's a pet peeve of mine and not me at all. When I say something is interesting, I mean exactly that--it's truly interesting. I think Shawn made a great argument by bringing agency into the picture since I'm a BIG BIG BIG proponent of agency. I probably don't fit well in either party due to this, truth be told. There are aspects of both parties with which I don't agree.

As for self sufficiency . . . I had a wonderful professor in graduate school who believed self reliance doesn't mean you provide entirely for yourself. Her definition is that self reliance means that while you do all you can to do it yourself, you also know what your resources are to help you on your way when necessary. Not everyone in our country is born with the same opportunities and some could use a leg up. I don't see that as a bad thing. I see that as compassionate.

I think there are some people who take the counsel to be self sufficient as license to look down on those who are not. People make comments that can be very critical of those who aren't like them. I addressed this a week ago when I taught Relief Society about trials--I started with a disclaimer that lessons like that sometimes seem to make people think it's okay to judge those who handle trials differently or those who struggle. We hold up people like Job and Joseph Smith as the "right" way to handle trials. There are different ways and just because someone doesn't handle it that way they did or we might, doesn't give us license to look down on them. That's my cautiousness with conversations about self sufficiency.

I've heard a lot of comments in Sunday School of all places that have made me had to leave the room. One that comes to mind was the Sunday after Hurricane Katrina--a woman said, "If they had just listened to the prophets and gotten a year's supply of food and prayed and read their scriptures, that wouldn't have happened." WHAT?! I don't get into that kind of thinking--"deserving" and fault finding. It doesn't make sense to me. Do some people deserve trials and some not? It either is or it isn't. And she went on to say they should've gotten out of the city. Does she understand that some of them *couldn't?* I have lived in some of the poorest places in the world and I recognized that I am EXTREMELY fortunate to have been born under the circumstanes I have--full of opportunity and ability. Not everyone has that, though. And I can't look down on them for that. I think it's reasons like that we have things like the Perpetual Education Fund. Interestingly enough, Gordon B. Hinckley was a Democrat who believed in these sorts of principles--I think you can tell by so many of the programs he started and encouraged and by his manner and compassion. A very eye-opening piece on this can be found >here -- be sure to click on the article listed as a search results. Fascinating assignment that has really made me think about this issue of opportunity and ability and fairness. One of the most fascinating articles I've read in a while about this.

I see nothing at all wrong with making a lot of money--heck, even the scriptures say it's good to seek for riches when we seek them for good intent. I don't have a problem with people making money--though I'm not sure I view money making as either Democrat or Republican. I think that gets more into economic principles (capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.) more than party politics.

I absoultely believe that the middle class being able to thrive will help the lives of others as well, both poor AND rich. (Again, I don't really favor the whole Robin Hood "steal from the rich to help the poor" approach--I favor a flat or value-added tax). I do believe that Obama's tax plan supports this idea--the middle class as the driving force. When the middle class does well, the rich prosper, too. I don't support the bailout. I'm really frustrated by it. I think the logical consequences of what people have done, while difficult, teach us and help our economy move forward more naturally.

Oh and April, I love that quote and that you attributed it to the person who actually said it! :P

Boquinha said...

P.S. (This is a great discussion--I love debate and sharing viewpoints . . . I think we all learn so much). I was always sad my high school didn't have a debate team but was excited to have a grad school professor who had us debate social issues because I often had to research a side I didn't support, but sometimes through research, I reevaluated and adjusted my stand on it.

Dr. Mark said...

Approaching this question looking at teaching, attributes and characteristics, I don't think Christ would have fit well with either major political party as they currently think and operate. Maybe he was the original "maverick." ;)

I think he exemplified how we can live a moral life: live true to what we believe is right and seek the greater welfare of all. I think Shawn's basic ideas regarding choice and freedoms are pretty close to what Jesus taught and would expect of people. People with a strong moral compass will take care of those around them. We just don't have enough of these compasses around to care for all who are in need. Some people just don't belong to a community or organization that has the time or resources to make sure they are cared for. Sad, but true. That's where responsible government programs can step in, fill a need, and provide support so people can do more for themselves.

One thing I know is that no matter what our personal beliefs on issues may be, he would never stand for the bigoted hate-speech that has come to dominate morality-based discussions in this country. There are plenty of people that can hold personal beliefs, express themselves appropriately, and truly show love to all of God's children. Increasingly there are those who have strong convictions, seek to impose them on others, or then legislate to ensure their convictions become law--agency and choice for those who choose "wisely."

Self-reliance is a tricky topic, too. Ultimately that should be our goal, but what is it really? Not all circumstances in life are within our control. And unless we have ever found ourselves in such a situation I don't know that we are in a position to truly say what assistance is reasonable or not. I know I was born into a circumstance where many of life's advantageous choices were available to me, so I have a difficult time being to harsh with people.

As for war, I think we should have every right to defend ourselves from a clear threat to our own personal, family, and national safety. I do not believe the Iraq war was one of these. Reading more and more about the thoughts and opinions present in the Bush cabinet following 9/11 and leading up to our aggressions in Afghanistan and Iraq I can see how blurry that line between "defense" and "self-interest" became. The ends do not always justify the means, no matter how desirable the ends may be.

Wow, so I guess I went all over the place with this one! Stacy beat me to the punch, but I kind of wondered if Christ would be more of a Libertarian. Interesting things to think about for sure. Thanks, Stacy, for a very thought-provoking exercise! :)

April (Thorup) Oaks said...

I think this conversation has gone well. One thing I really like about you two (Mark and Stacy) is how well you are able to express your opinions and how passionate you are in doing what is right.

Mark, I especially loved your post a couple days ago. I thought you explained your thoughts so well and I enjoyed understanding your views on these political subjects. I'll be honest... I have cringed with some of the light hearted jabs at McCain and Paulin, I really didn't like the liberal definition you posted even though it was just a joke. However, I loved reading why you are voting the way you are.

Stacy, on the "interesting" comment. I didn't think you were using that word in a negative way at all. I was just suprised you hadn't thought about it that way because that's the only way I've really thought of the issue. I personally love being surrounded by diverse thoughts and opinions (unless they aren't shared peacefully) because it helps me clarify my beliefs. By understanding your beliefs I see things more clearly and it either makes my beliefs stronger or changes them.

I have thought about this question a lot. The more I think of it I really do believe Christ could have been either a democrat or a republican. As I said before I only believe this IF the ideals of either party were executed perfectly. Unfortunately, they won't be.

Ultimately, I think whether we vote the same or not we have the same goals for our families, our country and our world. We want peace. We want happiness. We don't want to see people suffer. We want ALL people to thrive. I think either party can achieve this but who can do it the best? Who can do it the fastest? That's why we vote.

I agree self-reliance is a tricky topic but for the record I also believe it's not the only answer. All of us need help once in a while. When I say I believe in big business, I believe in the positive things it can offer. I believe there is more good than bad. Unfortunately there will always be corruption. I agree the bailout is a scary scary thing. We are all going to need to do a lot of praying.

Stacy, although I used the example of God punishing groups of people, I agree that it is ridiculous to say Katrina or Ike or any other natural disaster came as a punishment unless we are specifically told that from God or his prophets. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Sure it's easy to look back and say the Katrina victoms should have left but if you talk to anyone in a hurricane area you will learn evacuations happen or are threatened quite often and the people who stayed took a calculated risk. Blah blah blah. That is another discussion.

I would be interested to learn from you two why you think supporting the democrat party is not supporting abortion. Please understand, I know full well you can be a good person and vote democrat but it bothers me that abortion and gay marriage are tied so closely to the parties. I wish we could vote on those issues seperately. If a person deeply opposes abortion how in the world are they not supporting abortion when they vote for someone who has the power to vote pro-choice for all of us? If a person deeply believes in gay marriage how can they support gay marriage by voting for someone that opposes it?

April (Thorup) Oaks said...

Gasp! I just read what I wrote. I also believe you can be a good person and think abortion is ok. I do not think it is ok, but I don't believe a person is bad because they believe differently than me. If someone truly believes life doesn't start as early as I do, how could they be considered bad. Still, I will fight for what I believe is right.

Dr. Mark said...

April, good comments. I especially appreciated your second one. If all people could learn to truly understand the thoughts of opinions of others we'd have a much easier time coming together and making real progress in the world. Too often we can start to develop an "us-them" approach and that kills dialog and civility.

To answer your question about supporting the Democratic party, I know for years I got hung up on one or two issues and let them dominate my voting habits. I look back and regret not learning about other issues that also have huge, sometimes devastating effects on large groups of people. Right now the big issues for me are health care (for somewhat obvious reasons), the economy, and foreign policy (specifically, how do we handle the mess we're in now without causing more problems). Health care is a mess and I dislike both candidates ideas, though I think Obama's is a better first step. As far as foreign policy is concerned, I worry about McCain being able to represent our country in a favorable way. Living in Arizona for 4 years we saw a lot of his hot temper and stubbornness. These are not qualities I want our president to take abroad in an attempt to restore credibility for our nation. Obama has proven time and time again he can express himself in an articulate, poised fashion while showing respect to others. This is the person I want representing us on the world stage.

I don't agree with either party's platform 100%, and I don't expect to any more. I've come to realize for myself that if I get hung up on one issue I end up missing the big picture, and for now (I reserve the right to change my mind through the years) Obama's big picture (no matter what party he belongs to) looks more like mine.

Boquinha said...

I just posted this on Lena's blog and wanted to share here:

LOL! Lena, I *love* hearing your thoughts because I can tell you consider them, talk with Peter, etc. You can tell! It's not just regurgitated surface responses that you've been told to think--I really get the sense that you think for yourself and that's a quality I admire so much.

We've been talking so much about that post around here, too, that my head hurts (in a good way). It reminds me of my grad school ethics classes. I LOVE analyzing and considering these things. Our conversation has been about all the stuff in that post to the basics of living in society and having laws and order and consequences to teleological and deontological ethics. So. Much. Fun. We are such nerds . . .

Lena said...

I'm going to be a bad commenter and admit that I have not read all of the comments. I hope to later but I just can't right now! Peter and I were discussing this yesterday though and came up with something I wanted to mention about Jesus being a pacifist. I'm not sure I can agree with that based on the Great I AM from the Old Testament. Yes, Jesus' short life here on Earth was spent peacefully but that is not the whole of his History. Remember Sodom and Gamorrah? How about in Joshua when he ordered that every person, every ANIMAL even be killed in that city whose name I can't remember? The flood? I'm not saying- not at all- that he enjoyed this but obviously he saw it as necessary and I think that we can follow that example. Now, he did give everyone ample opportunity to repent beforehand but when it came down to it, he also sent his "troops" to battle. So, I'm not sure you can call him a pacifist based solely on his thirt-something years on Earth.

The other thing I was thinking was that of course I will say he would agree with my views ;) Otherwise I wouldn't have those views! I agree that agency is a biggy and that we should be left to choose for ourselves in MOST cases. Even Jesus came up with the 10 commandments and other laws or guidelines to help us choose the right way and I think that there is a place in government for that but not to the extent that some want.

How's that for starters? Sorry if I repeated anything other people have already said. I'll get to reading the wonderful comments soon I hope!

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

As a Christian, I believe that Jesus was (is) fully God and fully man. Further, he is part of the Trinity - Father/Son/Holy Spirit.

Now, being fully God, one must look at the Word and look at how God's thoughts compare with our (puny) human thoughts. In Isaiah 55: 8-9, it says the following: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways..."
Therefore, I can't help but think that God finds our political parties a wee bit silly...

Would Jesus be a Democrat? No. Would he be a Republican? No. Would he be a Libertarian? Again, no.

Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the World, God incarnate, and for us to try to "box" him into a political ideology is to trivialize all he did, and still does, on our behalf.

Lena said...

HWHL- of course He wouldn't BE one or the other or any of them. I don't think that is what Stacy or myself, or any of the others were trying to imply. I think it is just a friendly discussion of where we believe His views fit within our own or vice versa. I don't think we could ever box him- or any of us for that matter- into one of a dozen different political views. It's like when I want my husband to guess something like the sex of our children before we find out. It doesn't really matter but it's fun to think and guess about it. He doesn't like to play that game though.

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

My dear Stacy,
I come and I try to comment intelligently on your question, which (assuming I can still read correctly) was "Based on what we know about Jesus, would he be a Democrat or Republican?"

I thought my answer was well thought out, respectful, and everything was spelled correctly. :-)

But then I get slammed by Lena The Hall Monitor. :-)

Sheesh! Some Mondays are tougher than others, aren't they? LOL.

Lena said...

Wow- no slamming here. I was just trying to clarify that none of us were trying to pigeon-hole Jesus into a box and that I presume most of us agree with your opinion. No slamming from my end thank you very much. I'm sorry if you read that into my post. I thought I was just trying to clarify the spirit of the question. Guess I should have let Stacy do that. I had no idea it sounded like a slam- I suppose I should turn my editor up.

Boquinha said...

Where's D'Arcy? Think about puppies! Think about puppies! :P

Ladies, I think you're both great (even though I haven't yet met either of you in person). I know that you're both stating what you feel and that's fine with me--we're all stating our thoughts and opinions on the subject.

I have to say that despite the mix of religion and politics in the question, I didn't expect it to get too controversial and I certainly mean no irreverence at all. (I guess I should also state that I believe God has a sense of humor and that I do believe there's a danger in any of us taking ourselves too seriously).

I can respect that the question is one which some don't want to answer because they're uncomfortable or unsure how to approach the topic. That's fine.

Again, I mean no disprespect. That being said, what Lena said is right about my intent for this discussion. I think I just worded it poorly. I'm not asking if Jesus IS a Democrat or Republican (as obviously, he is neither of those), but based on what we know about him, where would he fit in ideologically. Just a fun make-you-think exercise (I love those). I didn't take the previous posts as slams, just clarification.

I was talking today with some friends about Myers-Briggs and personality types. Fascinating stuff. Some people (Ns) really LOVE introspection and are wired to imagine and really enjoy delving in and thinking and pondering and analyzing. Some (S's) prefer to busily go about their lives doing what's expected of them without having to give it too much thought, prefering concrete and common sense approaches. It was a really good discussion about how people are simply different, none being better or worse, just different. And understanding that helps us understand one another better. SO interesting! I'm probably going to take the test again tonight. :P It's been years.

Now, I also want to address Lena's earlier point about Jesus being a pacifist. See, I think the New Testament teachings DO show us that he's a pacifist. I know how the God of the Old Testament operates, but Jesus explained that that was the old way and the new way was the higher way that he established. The Law of Moses is no longer in effect, according to his teachings. So, rather than "eye for an eye," love your neighbor and pray for your enemies. So, I don't think we can appeal to the Old Testament as a way to say he's not a pacifist. I think we do have to look at the New Testament and his higher law as he explained it, especially since the older laws were done away with. Plus, if we let the OT dictate our actions more than the NT, we could justify things like beating slaves and that's not going to work.

Now, what to think about the moneychangers in the temple, I'm not sure. I'd like to reread that and see if it was as angry a scene as is often talked about.

Boquinha said...

I want to add, too, that this discussion has helped me clarify for myself that I don't think Jesus fits nicely into any of the parties and I don't think most of us do either!

Lena said...

I don't believe the money changer scene was necessarily an angry one. I don't think that is the lesson that he was teaching when he was on Earth. I agree you can't take one time in the scriptures and forget about the rest- that can be very dangerous as you stated-especially regarding the Old Testament. On the other hand. I think the example from our Savior's life was meant for individuals to live by- not nations. If all we ever did as a country was turn the other cheek we would be in sore trouble indeed. We do know that as a ruler Christ believes in justice and does not always just turn the other cheek- otherwise our brothers and sisters would not have been cast out. I wonder what you think of when you think of the second coming? It doesn't sound very peaceful. I do think that much of the destruction will be our own doing but I don't know if Christ will be coming as a pacifist. Full of love and loving peace yes- but, well- I won't pretend to understand Revelations but it is pretty descriptive.

Thanks for the discussion y'all! You make my brain hurt and it needs that every now and again. Honestly I do long for His return because I know he will be the perfect ruler and I won't have to worry about the kinds of decisions that will be made. It will be nice to have that kind of peace.

Uncommon common sense said...

Hello, I am Lena's DH. She told me about your blog and said that
I was welcome to comment. The question asked is very interesting and I think hits at the core of who we are. Politics and religion are interelated because they both dictate how we live our personal lives and so will feed off of each other. That being said there are some key issues that I think need to be addressed from what I have read here.
Shawn really hit the nail on the head as far as the economy goes. Yes Jesus wants us to care for our brothers and those less fortunate. However, he has never implied that we should be forced to give to others. That is what taxation for wealth redistribution is. It is forcing us to give not what we think we should but what others think we should and that takes away our freedom. Also, as an economics graduate I think that I can safely say that taxing the wealthy to give to the poor is not sound economics. By taking the wealth of others you remove incentive for them to acheive wealth. Also it drags on the economy. It makes it harder for both small companies and corporations to grow and thus create wealth and jobs. tax increases on the wealthy in the past has also led to decreased federal revenues in the long run. On the other hand tax cuts lead to more growth in business, more jobs, greater wealth and increased federal revenues. for examples look at the Reagan and Bush tax cuts. within a few years of both cuts government revenues increased from what they were before the cuts.

Abortion is a sticky subject. I would not agree with a federal mandate against abortion. I do not agree with Roe v. Wade either. There is no constitutional right to an abortion. This is a matter for the states to decide on and individual basis. As for the Dems. being pro choice. That is I think misleading. In many circumstances they are not just pro choice but pro abortion. If all they wanted was the freedom to choose then they would tell women that they could have one if they want. What they do though is push beyond that. They support federal spending to pay for abortions. That means that those that oppose it have to help pay for it with taxes. Also they push to force doctors to perform abortions to any one who asks even though the doctor would refuse due to moral objections. Then there is the issue of allowing children who survive abortions to die simply to spare the hospital and the mother of the inconvenience of the situation. These take abortion from just a right to choose to everyone has to conform and that is not promoting personal freedom.

Finally the war. I think that I need to first point out that Bush did not lie about the war. His talk about WMD's was just repitition of what most politicians and other countries had been saying for years. The problem was that the information was not accurate enough. I think that the war was justified because Saddam has been breaking treaties ever since the 1st Gulf War when he invaded Kuwait and we had to push him out. He showed that he had no respect for anyone including his own people whom he murdered on whims. I agree that there are many governments but they are not all equal. The only thing that makes a government equal is if it is made by the people for the people. We had help from the french in the revelutionary war. If England hadn't been fighting them then they could have thrown the full force of their military against us and we would have lost. The Iraqi's couldn't do it alone either. So we went in to help. Now they have a government that can be run by the people. Is it perfect? no. It took us many years for our own. But, they are getting there thanks to our help. Soon they will be able to take care of themselves and Bush is already talking to them about when our troops will leave. The next generation of Iraqis will enjoy immense freedoms that they would not be able to have other wise. I think that that makes it justifiable and thus supportable by people who beleive in Christ. I hope you find this interesting if not too long.

Dr. Mark said...

I enjoyed reading your comments, Lena's DH. I always appreciate input from someone with a bit of knowledge where the economy is concerned. I can see what you mean about tax cuts being helpful for the economy in theory, but I also see a lot of bad that came during those years as well. Didn't Reagan's policies in general lead to short-term growth but an enormous budget deficit? And aren't we in the middle of an insane economic situation now, not long after the Bush tax cuts? I admit fully I only understand the basics of economics so I welcome instruction.

Uncommon common sense said...

Hey Dr Mark,

Those are really good questions that I imagine most people wonder. In 1980 total tax revenues came in at around $1.15 trillion. The Reagan tax cuts went into effect in the early 80's and we see a short drop in revenues but by the year 1990 revenues are at $1.5 trillion. Same thing happened under Bush. Revenues went from about $2.4 trillion in 2000 to $2.5 trillion in 2007. Historically revenue averages around 19% of GDP. That doesn't change significantly whether taxes go up or down. So the best way increase tax revenue is to increase the GDP. This is best done by allowing corporations and individuals to keep more money that allows businesses to grow. The basic principle of classical economics is that wealth can grow. The economy is not just a pie where if you take more someone has to have less. It can actaully grow allowing everyone to have more and the economy gorws best when the government only takes the minimum amount needed to cover expenses. As for the deficit, that has more to do with government spending. Reagan tried to cut government spending but he failed. With the booming economy of the 80's the government just kept growing and spending. We see a similar thing this decade. Bush has pushed for larger government that requires more money and it typically grows faster then the economy.

As for the current troubles, they actually have little to do with taxes. It has to do with bad mortgages. Clinton's National Homeownership Strategy put pressure on banks to give mortgages to individuals that didn't qualify previously. His reason was that he felt banks were unfairly targeting minority communities with mortgage denials. These banks had to give easier mortgages or be threatened with bad government rateings and not being able to open more branches. They knew that the mortgages were dangerous so the bundled them in securities, like a stock or bond, and sold them. Under the same strategy Clinton had Fannie and Freddie buy up these loans so that banks could get rid of the debt and make more mortgages. That is why housing prices skyrocketed in the 90' and early this decade. Unfortunately prices can't rise like that forever. They got to expensive and demand for homes fell. This caused prices to fall and started the decline in home prices we have seen in the last year or two. It really fell apart when Fannie and Freddie, being overburdened with bad debt couldn't support these loans anymore and were taken over by the government. That started the current decline in the economy.

On a side note. In 1929 the stock market crashed and we saw a financial crisis similar to this one. Hoover as the president cut imports by raising tariffs and increased taxes to boost revenues and that help turn a recession into the great depression. To do the same thing today could very well have the same effect although to to such an extreme degree. Our economy is more resilient today then in the 1930's.

Boquinha said...

I'm with Lena--I love discussion like this that make my brain hurt. I used that exact same phrase, Lena, with Mark while talking all day Sunday about this. :P

Interesting concept, too, about Jesus' example being for individuals but not countries. I've got to chew on that one a bit more. I think of the Amish as a community--they are extremely peace loving and are conscientious objecters to the war so they do more "peace corps" type stuff in place of serving in the military. Hmmmm, I'd like to think more about that one--it's a very thought provoking idea.

And, in the vein of honesty, I want to say that I really struggle with the whole concept of casting out your own children. I think there is likely a lot we don't know detail-wise. That just doesn't sit right with me as a parent at all. And I wonder a lot about that. Same with the Old Testament and the 2nd Coming and all of that. I believe in consequences, but I'm not big into the whole "strike them down" concept of God. I believe he is both just and merciful, but I personally believe he is far more merciful than we think. I say this because of my own personal, emotional, struggles and consequent spiritual experiences, so I'm not proclaiming doctrine for all or anything. But for myself, and as a parent, daughter, sister, wife, and friend, I just can't conceive of a God that casts out his children forever. I know how I feel about my own children and his love must be so much more, right? And I wouldn't ever cast out my own children. I ache when I see good, religious people completely cut off relationships with their own children just because their children choose differently. Agency is part of the plan! And they are still their children. I'm not judging; I'm just saying it's difficult to watch. I've counseled clients who were pretty much cast out of their family because they left their family's religion or struggled with homosexual tendencies or because they didn't go on a mission or to college. It's unfathomable to me. I understand parents being disappointed, but I struggle with the extreme reaction to disown and kick them out over differences which don't threaten others. We have consequences, sure, but I'm careful to word them as that--consequences rather than "punishments" or "rewards." A good friend of mine told me how she dislikes the word "deserve" and I gave that a lot of thought and I can see why. I think God operates with consequences. But I believe him to be very, very merciful. I'm not saying I know all the answers, but I'm being honest about my grappling with this topic. I believe in a supremely loving and merciful God, I really do. Again, not without consequences, but I don't envision someone cruel and uncompromising and one who puts conditions on love. This is something I think about a lot. And I reiterate, these are my personal feelings and viewpoints.

That being said, the whole angry God/striking people down is tough for me. It doesn't sit right with me personally. And that does play into my political views as well. I hope this isn't misconstrued to say that I somehow believe in everyone doing whatever they please--that's not what I'm saying at all. Laws give order to society. Without them, there'd be chaos. And there are consequences. But then how do we determine which laws to make? One friend of mine, when I discussed this with her, suggested that perhaps the trouble and harships in society begin when we legislate morality instead of sticking to legislation for pragmatic reasons (like traffic laws, for instance). More food for thought.

(Omigosh, I love this discussion!)

And Peter, WELCOME!!

Boquinha said...

Oops, posted too soon. Peter, thank you so much for your very insightful and helpful economic views. Wow, I'm learning a ton! You're very good at explaining this, too. Have you considered being a professor? Economics can be boring and tedious to people, but I understand what you're saying!

I also believe that we shouldn't be forced to give to others. I believe that anything that we do, when we CHOOSE to do it, is so much sweeter than when we do something because we "have to" do it -- then it becomes a chore. This is a therapeutic principle.

But there are also costs to living in societies--roads, bridges, schools, libraries, etc. So taxation is a part of being part of a group--like dues, so to speak, yes?

I agree that abortion is an issue for the states and individuals to decide. This shouldn't even be considered a federal issue.

I heard a woman make an interesting point yesterday in a political conversation--if someone doesn't believe in _________ (fill in the blank with whatever issue), then don't do it! But stop imposing that view on others. (Although I recognize that with abortion, pro-lifers are voicing for the unborn child and I can totally see that--this gets into the whole idea of when life starts. For myself, I personally believe that it starts at conception--it's a living, growing being!). I thought of what she said and it does support the idea of freedom and agency really. I can think of a lot of things that are legal with which I don't personally agree, but I simply don't do those things--smoking, for example. Must we legisltate everything? And what about the difference between moral and pragmatic legislation (which I think is a really interesting discussion)? So fascinating. I've already got 3 tabs open on ethics, logic, and fallacies. This is getting crazy! :P :)

I stand by what I said earlier about the war--deposing Saddam is fine but then why aren't we aiding Sudan and Tibet and other areas where people are suffering? The war is a sticky subject, too. And when establishing a form of government in such a volatile area of the world, it's imperative that the culture and history of the people be considered rather than imposing one's own way.

Peter, I've learned a lot about economics from your comments--thank you. So what happened back when Bush Sr. said "No New Taxes" -- I often think about that when any candidate has plans and promises . . . they still have to do what they're able to do. Their ideas are just that at this point--ideas. They then function within certain limits and conditions. Thanks!

Lena said...

O, I totally get you on some of those feelings Stacy. I just don't know how but I believe we will better understand everything later and trust that our comprehension will be so much greater when all is said and done. I have to trust that He will be more merciful than not because I am sure that I will need it. However, I do know that He is just and that some people- even after being given so many chances still choose- blatantly and with full knowledge a few times- to still go the wrong way. What else can He then do than let us and also allow those consequences to come. There would be no learning otherwise. I think at some point it's almost enabling. I too don't like the word punishment. Consequence is a much better word whether they be good or bad. When I picture Christ it is loving and forgiving and enfolding- not the wrathful God- not ever that. But I can't seem to get past the whole consequences- some of which have been names and He is nothing if not true to His word. I just have to leave it knowing that it will ALL be for our good- every last iota of it.

jaredski said...

These long comments are exhausting me. Here's my take.

Jesus, being God, doesn't need a party platform that he strictly adheres to. He knows to do the right thing and what will work best taking each person's individual situation in mind. Sometimes it might be the Democrat approach and others Republican. We don't have that benefit, so we have to do the best we can.

Of course everyone wants to think that their own opinion is aligned with Jesus'. But we don't always know all the facts, and maybe there are times that even abortion, for example, is appropriate in the eyes of God.

This is why in general I am for more freedom, not less. The issues I think are most important are economic, so that's why I vote Republican (or sometimes Libertarian).

Zelia said...

I don't know if he would belong to any party, BUT I wish that He would come down and run and I would vote for Him. :)

Uncommon common sense said...

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to this. I have been really busy studying for my first Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) test on Dec. 6th and I am really beat. The hear what you say about there being expenses that must paid for so some taxes are needed. I totally agree with this to an extent. Things like roads, bridges and infrustructer as well as military and administrative expense must be paid for. Unfortunately most of our taxes go to social programs like social security and medicare and medicaid. While these programs are for good reasons they are poorly run and really should be left to private markets. If you were to take all the money they make you pay in SS and put it in a low risk fund for 35 years then you would have alot more money then the government would give you in retirement and it would all be yours. As it is now, SS is looking at possible bankruptcy in less then 15 years and within 40 years taxes will have to be over 60% for all people in order to cover expenses. These are the things that need to be scaled back on and slowly returned to the market place. Jesus teaches us to be self sufficient but these types of government program actually encourage people to be more dependent on the government for our needs and that is always dangerous. I am not saying that we should do away with all social programs. There should always be a safety net for those truly in need. However, they need to concentrate on the true essentials and on encouraging people to get off of them. The church program is a great example. In order to get help you have to show true need and you have to show that you have a plan to get off of welfare.

The only comment on Iraq that I will make is that the government is not one forced on them. We did not give them a copy of our constitution and say here you go. They developed it themselves with our help and it is still a work in progress that is trying to account for the different cultures involved. It will be a unique constitution that will work well for them if they only have the stablity and physical security to build on it. That is what we are doing now is helping provide that security. This endevor can succeed and when it does millions of people will be better off and stability in such a vital part of the world will benefit everyone.

As for H.W. Bush, his retreat on no new taxes is pretty much the reason that he was a one term president. Republicans are not very forgiving to people to go against the principles that they ran on. That is why they are very un involved in the current election.

I get what you say about Heavenly Father. I think that in the end all will end up well. As for those that were "cast" out of heaven, well they rebeled against Heavenly Father's plan and decided for themselves that they were not going to follow it. Yes God is all about free agency but that does not mean we can do whatever we want and get away with it. He is also about choosing our concequenses through our actions. Other then that I agree with Lena. Of course.

Lena said...

LOL! Okay I have to snicker at that "of course" Babe. You all should hear some of our discussions. At times you wouldn't be able to tell the way we knit pick at the details, but yes, we agree on most things. ;)

emily said...

Hey Stacy, you're right. The New Testament showed us that the old law was done away and a new law was beginning, and Christ clearly was a pacifist in the NT. But we also learn that all things will be restored when He comes again. I don't entirely know what that means, but it seems to me that maybe it means the old law will be restored?

Boquinha said...

Oh, I hope not, Emily. I can't imagine that's what it means. He keeps giving us "higher laws." The people of the OT couldn't handle more than the Law of Moses, so that's all they were given. And then the higher law came in the NT. Someday we'll have even higher laws . . . if we can ever learn how to do the NT ones, which it seems many of us have problems with. I mean, we are human.

Dr. Mark said...

Peter, thank you for your continued clarifications. I'd love to understand so much more about the economics of our country, but it can get so complicated! I think in principle turning a lot of programs over to the private sector could really be a good thing. When it comes to SS there are a lot of people that could probably do quite well with it. I worry about those that think they know how to take care of their retirement, but really don't. I also worry about people being "taken for a ride." When it comes to the elderly there are a lot of scams out there.

Ideally the government should be able to get out of the business of social welfare on a large scale and provide help to a smaller group of people. I think one problem has been that a lot of people have become quite selfish and don't realize the good that can come out of truly looking out for your neighbor. It's easy to write a check to a church or charitable organization and let them do the rest, but that removes the face from the suffering. If more people played a personal role in the work we'd probably see more work getting done.

And I think both parties forget that most of us in America are really quite moderate in our thinking, even if we lean to one side or the other. Unfortunately most main party leadership is a bit more rigid in its ideology and has lost touch with the true populace.

Just my additional 2 cents.