Why We Are so Often Lazy Christians
The Ruins of a Church in Aberdeen, Scotland
I have an 83-year-old neighbor
I have an 83-year-old neighbor who is a devout Christian. I can't put into words how much I admire how she lives her faith day in and day out. She is at church whenever the doors are open. She teaches Sunday School, is a decision counselor, tithes, takes every Bible study offered, she works in Vacation Bible School, is active in the widow's group, sings in the senior choir, visits the sick, takes food to the bereaved, even travels to foreign countries on mission trips from Central America to China. But when it comes to politics, she is like so many other Christians - lazy.
Nothing else matters
I say this because when someone runs for office, from dog catcher to the president of the United States, too many Christians only want to know one thing. Are they anti-abortion? They dismiss any other evidence of Christ-like behaviour. Matthew 7:16 says you will know them by their fruit. That verse doesn't apply to many voting believers because the only fruit they look for is a position on this one issue.
It doesn't matter if candidates have honored their wedding vows. It doesn't matter if they have been convicted of ethical violations. It doesn't matter if they support our military. It doesn't matter if they have made a fortune taking advantage of any and/or everyone who has crossed their paths. It doesn't matter if they talk in ways that they would have washed their children's mouths out with soap. Doesn't matter. Nothing matters but abortion.
Christianity is not that easy. Jesus asks more from us than that.
Jesus taught so much more
What about what Jesus said about feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and dying, sharing your cloak with someone who doesn't have one, providing for the widow and the orphan, not cheating your neighbor? What about not bearing false witness, not coveting what someone else has, rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, not dragging a fellow Christian into court? How much would the need for abortion be reduced if we elected officials who cared about issues like these? My point is this: you can't make a decision as important as putting a person into government to represent you on the basis of only one issue. Well, yes you can. But you are being lazy.
It's not that easy. Too many well-intentioned people are making it that easy though, because it takes a good bit of time and energy to get to know the candidates and learn their stand on the issues. You can't just read their Web site, because candidates often just publish what people want to hear. You need to watch interviews, research their voting history or public comments, read a variety of newspapers and magazines, watch a variety of news broadcasts on a variety of networks, read the books they have published, and on and on to get an in-depth knowledge of what the candidate truly believes in order to make an intelligent choice that will result in what they are most likely to do if you entrust them with an office.
That's a lot of effort to make when it is so much easier to just judge them on one issue.
Are abortions rampant in America?
How big a percentage of women in America get abortions?
Is that number increasing or declining?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when abortion in America was legalized in 1973 the abortion rate was 14 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. The number of abortions peaked in 1990 with a rate of 24 per 1,000. From that high, the CDC reported the numbers declined through 2002 and then stabilized. In 2012 the abortion rate was 13.2 abortions per 1,000. Lower than when abortion was illegal. Additionally, in 1965 deaths due to complications from illegal abortions was reported at 200 women. The latest statistic for such deaths per year? 13.
"Given the large decreases in the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions from 2011 to 2012, in combination with decreases that occurred during 2008–2011, all three measures reached historic lows." -CDC
Realizing that this is a question of fundamental beliefs in many religions, irregardless of statistics as to how many people are actually affected, you still have to question if it should outweigh all other requirements of the Christian life when choosing our politicians. In 40 years how often has the influence of someone in office made any difference? Roe v Wade is still the law of the land. But how an official thinks on taxes, the debt, defense spending, going to war, social security, healthcare, immigration, education - do we take all that into account when judging their Christianity? How Christ-like are they when it comes to making decisions that affect millions of people every single day of their lives?
Can somebody say they are voting their faith then dismiss all the other things Jesus commanded his followers to care about when it comes to their fellow man?: It has recently been asked, "What profits a man if he gains the Supreme Court but loses his own soul?"
I wonder what Jesus would have to say about that?
How did abortion become the Number One Issue to many Christians?
In 1973 The Baptist Press applauded the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, saying that, “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision.” Two years before the Court’s decision, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution calling on fellow Southern Baptists to work to make abortion legal under certain conditions: rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.
So, how did the change in thought and mission happen?
After the 1971 Supreme Court ruling that institutions practicing segregation—whether or not they got public financial support—were not charitable institutions and therefore were not tax exempt. The result: Evangelicals through their colleges and private schools owed the government lots of money in back taxes.
In his book, “Thy Kingdom Come", Randall Balmer writes, “A conference call was held among leaders of a new group of Evangelicals such as James Dobson and Jerry Falwell to discuss strategies regarding segregation charges and demands for back taxes against Bob Jones University. Someone on the call pointed out their potential to be a broader political force if they added other issues to their agenda. Callers came up with a number of ideas, and then finally one caller said, how about abortion? No one voiced an objection, and abortion got added to the religious right’s agenda." And the Moral Majority and Christian Right was born.