Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Jesus for President?

Like it or not, Jesus is running for political office.

Jesus has been running for office for quite some time now.  What's his platform, you say?  Well, it's whatever happens to be your political pursuasion.  Are you a Democrat?  Well, Jesus is about as blue as can be, supporting government programs and very much for raising taxes on the wealthy so they can pay their "fair share."

And if you are a Republican?  Well, Jesus is a super patriot, is against raising taxes and government spending.

You can probably see where I'm going with this. 

In light of the recent budget and debt mess that has finally be resolved, I've heard folks talk about how it's not simply wrong, but downright sinful to cut any social programs.  I've also heard others try to infuse their conservative fiscal agenda with holy talk as well.  I hear people talk about "What would Jesus cut," as if Jesus was somehow involved in social policy during his time on earth.

Being a mainline Protestant pastor, I've hung out with other pastors who are decidedly on the liberal end of the spectrum.  The way they talk, you'd think Jesus came to earth to give every Social Security and Medicare.  Conversely, conservative Christians have somehow made raising taxes some kind of mortal sin that should send one to the very gates of hell.

I'd like to give my sisters and brothers who are partisans a little advice: stop using Jesus to prop up your arguments.

Jesus walked on earth during the first century, long before there was anything like a welfare state.  Jesus didn't have a position on Medicaid or defense spending.  Last I checked Jesus wasn't issuing his view on US tax policy. 

Jesus did care for the poor and  called us to do so as well.  But you might notice that Jesus never said how that should be done.  Maybe Jesus was smart enough (or extremely gullible) to believe we could figure that out.

I think there are good and moral arguments both for and against government programs aimed at alleviating poverty.  I think there are good and moral arguments both for and against raising taxes.  Jesus didn't call us to support this or that ideology; Jesus called us to be faithful.  We have to discern how to be faithful to his call to care for the least of these and odds are we will come to different conclusions.  That's okay. I think God is a god that likes to give us a wide berth to come up with how to be faithful.

So, can we please stop asking what Jesus would cut or not cut and stop trying to make Jesus some kind of mascot for our political parties?  Jesus came to give us abundant life, not free health care or lower taxes.

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