As we near the 2012 election, once again the debate over President Obama’s religious commitment is front and center. The recent mandate debacle is the most recent example of how Obama’s agenda is not one that is compatible with Christianity. Here is a post I wrote leading up to the 2010 election and I think it has relevance in light of the debate about President Obama’s faith and Republican candidates assertions about their own. I titled it “The Revolutionary Politics Of Jesus; Love One Another“. For when we get down a core value of Christianity, it is our love for other Christians that shows our true faith. Obama’s Liberal policy agenda violates this in a profound way and it means that Jesus would not support it and that Christians should not vote for Obama in 2012.
The last two years we have seen a remarkable focus on what it means to be a Christian and how that looks particularly for those in public life. Obviously, the election of Barrack Obama as President and his claims to be a Christian are helping keep this focus alive and the debates ongoing. Debate rages between Republicans and Democrats over issues like abortion and gay rights as each side appeals to the teachings of Jesus to justify their positions. We Christians are increasingly seen for what we are against instead of what we are for. Let me try and locate issues like abortion and gay rights in a larger context, a context that grounds how the Christian ought to stand on not only abortion and gay rights, but also most issues facing our generation. This will be done by looking at the teachings of Jesus in one key area, our love for one another, our brothers and sisters who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Jesus calls on us to love on another as a testimony to the world.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Obviously we are to show love to others a well, as Jesus taught with the example of the good Samaritan, but a clear primacy is to be given for the faithful. The main teaching of Jesus that I would like to focus on and the one that truly has a revolutionary quality to it comes from Matthew 25.
31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46
In this passage our love for one another will be judged by how we treated one another. The way we treat “the least of these”, the brothers and sisters of Jesus, our fellow Christians, has major implications when we face judgment before Jesus. Pastor Kevin DeYoung has put it like this:
“So who are “the least of these” if they are not society’s poor and downtrodden? “The least of these” refers to other Christians in need, in particular itinerant Christian teachers dependent on hospitality from their family of faith. Let me explain…Matthew 25 is about social justice in the sense that it is about caring for the needy. But the needy in view are fellow Christians, especially those dependent on our hospitality and generosity for their ministry. “The least of these” is not a blanket statement about the church’s responsibility to meet the needs of all the poor (though we do not want to be indifferent to hurting people). Nor should the phrase be used as a general cover for anything and everything we want to promote under the banner of social justice. Jesus says if we are too embarrassed, too lazy, or too cowardly to support our fellow Christians who depend on our assistance and are suffering for the sake of the gospel, we will go to hell. We should not make this passage say anything more or less than this.”
This is in stark contrast to the universalist interpretation by “Liberal Christians” of which Jim Wallis may be one of the best well known since he is an ardent supporter of President Obama. Liberals view “the least of these” as anyone in the condition Jesus describes, particularly the poor. Of course, Christians are called to help the poor, but this view will actually bring about the judgment for which Jesus is warning us about.
The proper understanding of this passage has critical implications for our politics and the grounding of issues like abortion and gay rights. For if we are to truly love our brothers and sisters in Jesus and help those of them that are “the least of these” then we cannot support Democrats and the Liberal agenda they seek to implement. For by doing so, we help bring about contempt for Christians in this country as a Liberal agenda seeks to normalize and legitimize the sin for which Jesus died on the cross for, sin that needs to be repented of not embraced. When we locate the issue of abortion and gay rights in this context we see that no Christian can be pro-choice or support those who are. Nor can any Christian support those who are advancing the normalization of homosexuality through gay rights. If “Christians” do support those who advocate abortion and gay rights, not only are they helping to propagate sin, but more profoundly they are violating the call to care for their brothers and sisters in Jesus. These “Liberal Christians” will help bring about the persecution the faithful by ensuring their status as bigots in society. Why would any Christian want to support someone or advance an agenda that will ensure the persecution of their brethren?
“How can Christians, as well as other persons who share similar values, vote for a candidate who wants to persecute them for their views and to compel them, against their consciences and subject to civil penalties, to be indoctrinated and participate in the affirmation of immoral practices? In short, how can Christians vote for someone who will insure society’s regard for them as bigots?”
Jesus even made His identity with His followers explicitly clear when He confronted Saul on the road to Damascus.
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:1-6
Saul was persecuting Christians, violating the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25, and Jesus confronted Saul with the fact that he was persecuting Jesus. Issues like abortion and gay rights go to the heart of the Christian faith. If we are truly created in the image of God, then we have intrinsic value from the moment of conception. Recently President Obama has dropped the idea of a Creator as the grounds for our inalienable rights and that ought to concern us very much. Obama is so radically pro-abortion that during the campaign he was willing to attack a survivor of abortion, Gianna Jensen. By advocating a radical pro-abortion public policy, Liberals are helping to create a bias against anyone who would defend the unborn as having inherent value, thus violating Matthew 25.
Gay rights is an equally if not more powerful example of this. For what will the consequence be for Christians once the normalization of homosexuality is complete in society and it’s acceptance is demanded by the State? What will be the consequence when people no longer think it possible to change their lifestyle through repentance? Christian are called to preach the Gospel, repentance from sin and salvation through Jesus alone, which means they would be in conflict with Liberal dogma on this. Of course Christians are to expect persecution, but based on Matthew 25, it should not be brought about by other Christians.
Liberalism poses a threat to Christians in America and I think if we take the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25 to heart it should be clear that Christians cannot support Democrats. Our call to love another and take care of our brethren in need, “the least of these”, means we cannot support those who advocate policies that will ensure the persecution of our faithful kin.