The following is a rebuttal to a flyer being distributed by Rally Right, a political action committee in North Idaho. These are my opinions on the topics addressed in the Rally Right flyer. While I am passionate about what I believe, I hold my opinions loosely. My understanding could be wrong. I am only human and therefore, prone to error. You are welcome to disagree, but please, do so kindly.
I believe in...
The Triune God - τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος
My relationship with God is not dependent on how this country was founded. I believe that my God would be the same God regardless of where I lived. If I packed my bags and moved to Canada, or Russia, or Korea, I believe that my God would not love me any more or any less than he does now. But since I am an American, I know that this nation was founded with freedom of religion being the first item in our Bill of Rights. With no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof – I understand that means there will be people who live here and are citizens of this same nation that do not believe in the same God that I do; some might not believe in any God. While my religious beliefs conflict with theirs, they have been granted the same liberties as I – to believe as they choose to believe, to worship as they see fit.
Liberty is not just a matter of being able to do whatever you want; it is the freedom to do what must be done. I believe the rights that I've been given are balanced by responsibilities to which I must abide. To have the freedom to safely drive on paved roadways, I pay taxes to fund the construction of those roads and must follow certain rules about speed limits, traffic lights, and seat belts. I have the right to life and liberty, so part of the money that I earn must go to pay for police, fire personnel, and paramedics so that others can be granted their life and liberty. I have the right to pursue happiness as long as my pursuit does not infringe upon the ability of others to pursue their happiness.
I believe that the constitution was written by men with the noblest of intentions - whose understandings were limited to the past. These men had no knowledge of what was to come. They did not envision a world where the USA would stretch from one ocean to another; where planes, trains, and automobiles could (in a matter of hours) transport them a distance that would have taken them months; guns that could kill dozens in the time it would have taken to load their musket and fire a single shot; a world with atomic energy, hydroelectric dams, and power lines dotting the landscape; homes that would be dependent on corporations for their basic utilities; where plastic cards would replace money and fortunes could be made or lost from the comfort of a person's living room. However, they had the good sense to know that the world would not remain the same. With that knowledge, the provided a way in which the laws they established could be amended. They demonstrated that process with the Bill of Rights, setting an example for future generations to do the same when the existing Constitution became archaic. With that power bestowed upon us, the Constitution is as much a living document as it is a historical one.
There are some needs that should be met at the federal level and others that should be met at the state level. However, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Without the Union, the State is weak. Without the States, the Union is nothing. The line that divides what should belong to the state and that which should belong to the federal government is a very fine line and we're not always going to get it right. Sometimes the States will over step their bounds, and sometimes the Feds are going to step over theirs. There will always be that pushing and pulling. The States exist to prevent the tyranny of a federal government, but the federal government must also prevent the tyranny of a state.
Like most people, I long for justice. Social justice. Legal Justice. Spiritual Justice. I want justice when some jerk cuts me off on my way to work but I also want justice when I look at the statistics surrounding human trafficking. Unfortunately, my ability to influence the delivery of justice is fairly limited. I understand that my definition of justice doesn't always line up with God's. That's why Christians believe in a thing called grace. The legal system is a different yet similar mechanism. Just like God, I'm not always going to agree with what our courts call justice. Justice, much like happiness, is something that is to be pursued. But just because you chase after it does not mean it will be obtained. Or, at least it might not be obtained in the manner you would prefer. Sometimes, despite our wishes and efforts, justice will elude us. However, when I feel the courts are wrong, I must respect and honor their decision. As a Christian, I will obey God's command to follow justice and not pervert it. I can't just do it my way; vigilantism is a fancy word to describe criminal behavior. There is a time and place for civil disobedience, but having your feelings hurt over a speeding ticket or hiding assets to avoid taxes does not make you a hero.
I am a free man. The government does not own me. No one owns me. I am free to do as I please. However, I have willingly ceded my rights so that my life will serve more than my own selfish desires. I have given my freedom to my employer – I do the best job possible so that I can maintain employment and earn a paycheck. I have given my freedom to my wife so that I can show her that I love her, admire her, and support her. I have given my freedom away to my kids so that they can learn from me and grow into healthy and productive members of society. I have given up my freedoms to my community so that I could provide a home for foster kids. I have given away my freedom for friends so that they could know that they're not alone in this world. So, while I have the rights to do anything I want, doesn't mean that I should. I can do anything, but not everything is beneficial or constructive.
The Right to Life
Abortion is a horrible and ugly thing. But do you know what else is ugly? Child neglect. Sexual abuse. Domestic violence. I believe that abortion is a bad idea. I won't pretend to know why anyone would chose an abortion, but here's what I do know. If the child has a right to life before they're born, they have that much more right to life after they're born. We cannot continue fighting for the life of the unborn child without maintaining that fight after they're born. We must strengthen supports for kids. Everything we're doing is fundamentally wrong. We need to better prepare future parents. We need to improve our foster care system and social services to help make stronger families and to save the kids are most at risk. We need to break the cycles of abuse and neglect. We need to stop undermining public education. We need a complete cultural shift to create communities that supports, encourages, develops, and engages kids at their developmental level.
I believe that marriage is a religious institution. It's time the government got out of the marriage business. Let the government honor civil contracts between two consenting adults. If that is a husband and wife married in the tradition of the church – fine. If it's a couple of rednecks that drunkenly decided to elope while on vacation in Vegas – fine. If it happens to be two dudes who love each other – fine. Civil contracts can fulfill the legal aspects of joint finances, next of kin, medical decisions, and tax filing status. If churches can handle marriage, then the church can define what marriage is or is not. The government does not need to intervene.
As a nation, we have perfected the blame game. We could justify anything if we really want to. OWS blames the one percent. The rich blame the freeloaders on welfare. The Tea Party blames taxes. Conservatives blame the liberals and the liberals blame the conservatives. But the blame for what is wrong in America is misplaced. It's not in any specific political party. It's not in any economic or social class. It's not in any race, religion, or sexual preference. It's not in immigration – legal or otherwise. It is in the hearts of each and every one of us. American's biggest problem is greed. When you look at all of this nation's woes, the root cause of that ill is greed. The power struggle in congress: greed. The abuses in welfare or Medicare: greed. The arguments over gun rights: greed. The arguments over health care reform: greed. Racism: greed. The maltreatment of the disadvantaged citizens - the elderly, the handicapped, the homeless, the single parents, the recovering addicts: greed. The bloated credit card debt of the average American: greed. And I am not immune. I shoulder as much of that burden as anyone else with a heartbeat existing on American soil. The time I spend reading, listening to music, or playing video games: greed. The meals I eat out: greed. My desire to have a comfortable house, a big TV, and a nice car: greed. We will not be able to fix anything that is wrong with our nation until we all own up to the fact that we're all to blame.
Our military should be strong enough to defend our land and our people from foreign aggressors. However, the strongest military in the world means nothing to national security if the people at home feel insecure. We might be able to protect ourselves from terrorists, but what about gang violence? What about people living paycheck to paycheck and fearing how one medical emergency will ruin them? What about the worker who got a pink slip after years of loyal employ because his company decided they can make more money by hiring lower skilled workers? What about the single parents fulfilling the roles of both mommy and daddy while struggling to pay for food and rent? What about the kids who get bullied day after day while their school turns a blind eye to the abuse? We may have the biggest or the strongest or the most technologically advanced military in the world. None of it matters if we can't take care of the people here at home.
The average American household has more than $15,000 in credit card debt. The average American still owes $148,000 on their home. The average student owes $32,000. We are an indebted society. We lie about our wealth. Rapper Nicki Minaj inflated her earnings by 6500% when she estimated her wealth to be in the billions. Nas claimed to be worth $200 million while he owed $6 million to the IRS. Most honest people probably wouldn't admit how much (or how little) they're worth. We are a society that lives beyond its means. Americans buy cars that we can't afford so that we can keep up with the neighbors who bought cars that they can't afford. Americans go to movies and buy fast food, but forget to pay for car insurance and the phone bill is past due. Americans take out loans to pay off loans. Americans spend more money than they make. Then we wonder why the government can't balance a budget? I say that we get responsible with our own finances, then we will have more leverage to demand fiscal responsibility from our government.
Support for Israel
Are the Christians in Israel worth more than Palestinian Christians? Are they more valuable than Christians in Sudan or Indonesia? Furthermore, God's covenant with Israel ended with Jesus. We are now under a new covenant which is better than the old one. (Hebrews 8:6). When Jesus sent out his disciples, he told them to reach all nations – not just Israel. (Matthew 28:19). Besides, who would God support? According to Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” In that case, I'll support Israel, but I'll also support Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Turkey.