Friday, October 14, 2016

The Worth of Souls- and Politics

The concept of divine grace has been coming up in recent politics more than normal.  Since God's forgiveness extends even to the most vile of sinners should the sins of politicians be overlooked?  Should Trump be excused because King David had concubines and had God's favor anyways?  Should white supremacists be personally immune to criticism because as Christian's we shouldn't judge people?  I honestly don't object to religious concepts being used to promote civil discourse towards people... because people are people and have inherent value.  If you want to say that we should define actions as despicable and not people because people are always redeemable or however else you want to express that fundamental respect I am actually very ok with that.  That being said, there seems to be a weird switch going on every time this comes up.  Politicians and religious activists seem to have a tendency to invoke these concepts only when it involves their own political group.  James Dobson can claim Bill Clinton is unfit for the presidency because of his infidelity but that Trump is fit for the presidency because he is a baby Christian who should be forgiven for his mistakes.  Not that all the leaders in this discussion aren't Christian's by some denomination and measure, at least by baptism so that is hardly a relevant point to distinguish one set of people from another as who we should view as receiving God's grace.  Bill Clinton is as a Baptist, Hillary is a Methodist, Trump grew up a Presbyterian even if he lacks much familiarity with Christianity in general.

I think it is valid to argue that there are really two discussions happening here.  One is of someone's political worthiness and the other is about the worth of someone's soul.  Everyone has their political opinions and their political leaders they align most closely with.  Everyone's soul has their elements of brokenness and of goodness and the potential to grow in brokenness and goodness.  Everyone is in some way redeemable and has inherent worth.  I don't think it is dishonest to support a politician whose political goals align with yours even if their personal character isn't to your liking.  But it is very problematic to change the subject from political to moral worth as if they were the same subject.  Sure they are related subjects, but not the same thing by a long shot.  If you propose that your opponent is politically wrong and morally unsuited for office and then propose that your own deeply flawed leader is morally forgivable because God forgives everyone, you run the risk of suggesting that God loves everybody equally but that some people are more equal than others.  At that point the message about God's universal love and your advocacy for moral goodness become eclipsed by your political message.  At which point it would have been better to have never brought up morals or God in the first place and to have just made the argument about politics.  You might even say that the saying about good fences making good neighbors applies to the separation of church and state.  If you try to use God as a servant to your politics your politics can subvert the message about God or subvert your political aims by gaining the opposition of people who believe differently about God.

So go ahead and argue all you want for how we should give broke people a chance to be leaders because God loves everybody- just so long as you actually mean everybody.