Monday, June 7, 2010

The Christian Politician

When I saw that a rather prominent politician decided that “separation of church and state” thing was old-fashioned, well, I’m not surprised. She said that government policy must be in keeping with the values of Jesus Christ. Who? Sarah Palin? No, Speaker of the House Nanci Pelosi (D-CA).

Look, there are aspects of liberal thought that do, potentially, line up with the Bible. I can disagree with Pelosi about the details of the Health Care Reform Bill—but if someone argues that a Christian commonwealth has an obligation to its most needy, I will agree. This isn’t a new idea; it goes back for centuries in English law. The Church from the very beginning played a major role in caring for the sick, the needy, and the hopeless. Jesus commanded Christians as individuals to help the poor, and it is not much of a stretch to see that in governments where Christians are a strong majority that the government might take on that role as well. (Whether it is the most efficient provider is another question, of course. And of course, exactly how far the government’s obligation goes is another complex question where decent people can disagree about the details.)

Liberals who want the government to do Christian service are on very strong ground when they make that argument. But where they are not on strong ground is when they say, as Pelosi has, that the government policy must be keeping with the values of Jesus—and then completely and utterly rejects those values when it is inconvenient. From the very beginning, the Christian church utterly rejected abortion and infanticide, “classifying both as murder.” English common law was more forgiving—but Pelosi claims to be following Jesus, remember? Pelosi has been a consistent vote not just for abortion, but for partial-birth abortion—a procedure so horrifying in its brutality that even many pro-choice sorts get a bit green around the gills when they read court decisions such as Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) that discuss exactly what this procedure entails:

Another doctor, for example, squeezes the skull after it has been pierced .so that enough brain tissue exudes to allow the head to pass through… Still other physicians reach into the cervix with their forceps and crush the fetus’ skull. ... Others continue to pull the fetus out of the woman until it disarticulates at the neck, in effect decapitating it. These doctors then grasp the head with forceps, crush it, and remove it.

Ah yes, those are definitely the values of Jesus Christ that Nancy Pelosi is voting for!

And it isn’t just abortion. It’s gay marriage—where Nancy Pelosi hailed the California Supreme Court’s short-lived legalization of marriage between homosexuals. Even when I was young, homosexuality was so generally abhorrent that the notion of homosexual marriage was incomprehensible; homosexual sex between consenting adults in private was still a criminal offense in every American state as late as 1960—and even in California, until 1975. Why? Because there was no serious dispute that homosexuality (along with adultery, and bestiality) was contrary to the laws of God—and for that reason, unlawful.

If Nancy Pelosi is serious about public policy having to be in line with the values of Jesus Christ, great, let’s go for it. Like her, I support efforts to alleviate suffering of the poor. Like her, I believe that the government has some obligation to provide at least some basic level of assistance to those in need. But I am going to insist that if she wants to play the “following Jesus” card on passing of laws, then she needs to be consistent and serious about this—and that means telling her constituents that abortion, except to prevent death of the mother, is wrong, and should be a crime. Ditto for homosexuality. She’s not going to do that—and she knows full well that this picking and choosing from Jesus’ teachings is exactly that—cherry picking, not following Jesus. It is profoundly dishonest.


  1. That's the wonderful thing about America and freedom of religion. YOU don't get to define what it means to be a "Christian."

  2. Clayton, I disagree with the assertion that liberals are on strong ground when citing Christ's teachings as a reason for government welfare programs.

    Christ's teachings were ALWAYS directed at individual attitudes and behaviors. It is you and me who should give our coat to the man in need. It is you and me who should love our neighbor as ourself.

    Our country has evolved AWAY from the "Christian Model" as we've embraced "the great society," the "war on poverty," etc. Two generations ago, individuals and communities of individuals cared for their needy. Now the individual turns his back, rationalizing that it's the job of "the government" to take care of those things.

    My opinion.