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Friday, June 20, 2014

Pivoting to a choice based political view and why conservatives should embrace it

The more I keep my eyes on God, the more I realize how integrated faith and politics here.  In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say they're just different facets of the same thing: our beliefs.  Faith shapes our beliefs.  Politics is the real world application of those beliefs.  So while it's not surprising both subjects and considered so taboo for discussion, it's also sadly amusing at times that people try to keep them separate.  I believe this ultimately comes from a misguided understanding of the "separation of church and state" phrase.  While initially it meant that a government could not have an "official religion" and could not force anyone to practice one religion, it has grown in the past 60 years to mean that one's faith should not be a part in the shaping of government policy.  Keep your faith out of your politics.

Frankly, I find this notion absurd.  Your faith, no matter what it is in, shapes your world view.  That world view is what guides policy preference.  Politics are a result of one's faith and belief.  The two are inseparable and shouldn't be attempted to separate because the result is ultimately a fake person that believes one way, but then supports laws and policy that may go a different way.  Another name for this dichotomy is political correctness, where shoves aside their personal beliefs to craft policy for the sake of not offending others.  From my perspective, that's policy that's soulless and hollow with no real meaning.

I talk about this as a lead in as a means to explain that ever refining political views mirror my growth in God.  As I strive to walk with Him, He in turn opens my eyes to areas where I was perhaps wrong in thought or not quite looking at it through the correct lense.  Pay close attention to the word refining.  My political views aren't necessarily evolving.  They're instead being refined to more closely reflect Him.

And lately, the big word that's been on my mind is Choice.  I'm not much of a philosopher, nor do I intend to be.  So when I talk about choice, this really only comes from revelations I've stumbled upon on my own (with His assistance, of course).  Anyway, the one powerful and unique thing God gave us was free will.  Choice.  He does not force us to do anything.  Instead, we have a choice in everything we'd like to do.  The choices we make are not free of consequence, so choosing carefully is important.  The point is, God gave us free will to choose our own path, even if it isn't the one He'd like us to take.

A vast majority of our hardships in life are results of the choices we make.  Some times the consequences of those choices do not surface until years or decades later, but ultimately the consequences of our choices shape our life.  God is sad when we make poor choices that end up hurting ourselves.  He rejoices when we make the good choices He wants us to make.  God doesn't punish us for our poor choices.  Instead, He lets us deal with the consequences.  Part of having this freedom is dealing with the consequences.

Why does He do it this way?  Because he understands this one simple truth:  Someone has to do the right thing because they want to, not because they're forced to or because they're afraid they'll get punished if they don't.  If that's the case, the choice is false. They're doing it to escape punishment rather than do it because it's the right thing to do.  The choices we make are supposed to help us grow spiritually.  Yet, if we make them out of fear of punishment, we don't grow spiritually.  Instead we end up focusing on pushing limits and/or doing as little as possible to escape punishment.  And while ultimately, a good choice can be made understanding the other choice(s) may naturally lead to a miserable experience, that miserable experience cannot be immediately forced upon someone when they make the poor choice (there's a slightly different perspective when raising children, something I plan on writing about later).

On a basic level, one can see how to apply this politically, though it's full of nuances as always.  I'm not advocating policy where anyone can do whatever they want without fear of law enforcement intervention.  Like anything, a "pure" solution cannot work.  Instead, when I talk about a choice based policy, I specifically lay it at the feet of laws concerning personal morality.

The biggest one, and one libertarians champion quite often, is laws punishing drug abusers or simply using them.  Now let's get one thing straight:  I don't use drugs nor do I advocate their use.  Their habitual use is self destructive even without being tossed into jail for using/possessing them.  And they shouldn't since someone should have the choice whether or not they decide to mess up their own life.  Yes, people should still warn others of the dangers of using drugs, but the fear of getting thrown into jail for having/using them should not be a motivator to stay drug free.  Instead, our culture should give a convincing argument as to why using them is a bad choice.

Now of course, if using those drugs in a setting that can hurt other people directly (such as operating heavy machinery while high), then that should be against the law.  A person should have a choice whether or not they ruin their own lives, but that choice shouldn't involuntarily ruin the lives of those around them.

In this country, there are basic rights which act as a framework: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  If someone's self destructive choice immediately infringes upon these rights of another person, then that's where the law should step in.  So in other words, if someone wants to get high and waste away their life, that's there choice...the just need to make sure they do it in a setting that isn't going to immediate hurt someone else.

This is why abortion would still be illegal in my eyes.  The woman has a choice, but that choice deprives an unborn baby the right to life.  The while the woman does a have choice in following a sexual pattern that can be emotionally destructive, the choice to end a life to avoid the consequences of those previous choices should not be allowed.

The bottom line is, as conservatives and Christians, lobbying for laws that "enforce" morality is not the right way to go.  You can't "force" someone to actual with morals and values.  In fact, having such laws has the opposite effect.  We strip away their God given choice in these matters.  So instead of making the moral choice because it's the right thing to do, they instead build resentment and run to those activities as an act of defiance.

Like God has given us all a choice in how we live, we need to give people the choice to make the right moral decisions.  Yes, that means that drug use and immoral activity might increase.  But the way I see it is if that happens, it means we, as Christians and the church, have failed those around us by not convincing them effectively that these activities are wrong.  Laws that force morality simply provide the illusion of our country "being good".  If people are free to make bad choices and they do, that means that we need to step up our efforts.

It's time to stop relying on law to force people to be upright and moral citizens.  Instead, it's time to start working on Extending His Kingdom so that people make the right choices for the right reasons.  A country with a strong moral foundation built voluntarily is exactly the type of Kingdom God wants us to have.