Let me address my fellow Christian Conservatives.

 

Have you noticed that many Conservatives blame us for political losses?  I hear it all the time:  “If the Christians would just shut up about social issues, we’d have a chance!”  Well, they’re wrong—but not fully.  Fact is, every group within Conservatism has made mistakes, and we are no different.

 

The problem isn’t our values, but rather our attempts to limit opposing values.  Here’s the key mistake:  We assume that preventing non-Christian choices outside the church is somehow a Christian thing to do.  But if it were, wouldn’t Jesus and the Apostles have done it?...or at least commanded it?...or recommended it?...mentioned it?...something?

 

Sometimes, in our honest desire to serve God, we go beyond His example.  Remember, Jesus and the Apostles offered and modeled their views—they didn’t force them.  Never did they advocate using governmental power to limit non-Christian choices.  They never felt Christian values were sustained by the state, and they never deemed non-Christian choices as damaging to their “institutions” (when did we adopt such terms?).

 

Observe God’s model in the Garden of Eden.  In Genesis 2:16-17, God says, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

 

His message is clear:  “I can make you choose the right trees, but I won’t.  It’s your call; your consequences.”  Not surprisingly, Jesus and the Apostles still used God’s “Choice” model centuries later.  Truth never changes—and we must employ it today.

 

Tell me, should we want the government to limit choices for people who hold other beliefs?  Whenever we get 51% of the vote, should we make them live our way?

 

Of course, I’m not saying God’s model allows all choices.  If we truly embrace choice, we’ll limit choices that remove the choices of others.  For instance, if a man chooses to steal, then his choice robs someone else’s choice of what to do with their money.  Or if a man commits murder, then his choice robs someone else’s choice of whether to live.  On the principle of protecting one choice from another, all laws are built.  But should we go beyond this principle, making our religious values into other people’s laws?

 

Look at abortion.  Seeing the unborn as human lives, I consider abortion as one choice robbing another choice.  Thus, I support laws restricting it.  I defend the defenseless, but not to impose my values.  I just don’t want one choice erasing another.  But when someone doesn’t believe the unborn are human lives, they’ll feel no choice is being robbed.  This doesn’t make them evil; we simply disagree.  We will battle, even passionately, but neither of us should be silenced.  Jesus silenced no one.

 

I recently spoke with a fellow Christian regarding legal unions for homosexuals.  He mentioned abortion, citing how Roe V. Wade brought death for millions.  I agreed.  He then said legal unions would likewise damage the “institution” of marriage.  But I wondered, would Jesus and the Apostles have said this?  Sure, they never endorsed homosexuality, but would they see legal unions as a threat to Christian marriage?  Really?  I’m sorry, but I see no evidence of that.

 

Do I want compromise?  Quite the opposite.  I don’t believe we’re being too Christian, but rather not Christian enough.  The desire to force one’s values on those holding other beliefs is purely Leftist, not Christian.

 

Virtually every Democrat law features control, favoritism, forced redistribution, political correctness (censorship), bias—all things never imposed on unbelievers by Jesus.  No wonder God was booed at the DNC—they hate His standards.  Even Colorado’s Legal Unions law overruns religious liberty and free speech.  That’s not surprising.  The Left always seeks freedom at the expense of other people’s freedoms—they want one choice to rob another.  Unlike God, who allows us to choose our own trees, the Left mows down trees they don’t like.  After that, we’re free to eat.  Ohhhhh….goodie.

 

God says, “I don’t have to approve of something to allow it.”  A Liberal says, “If I don’t approve of something, it must be disallowed.”  Liberals crave control, God offers choice.  Liberals silence dissent in public schools, while God lets Job curse life and shout at Him.  Ever wonder why there’s no Christian Jihad?  Simple:  God isn’t Liberal.

 

Here’s our problem:  By equating “allowing” choices with “approving of” choices, we help the Left.  Seriously.  When both sides push control, society sees no option of grace—no freedom to choose trees.  Remember how the crowds listening to Jesus saw the Pharisees as control freaks?  Today, Americans would see the Left this way, but we intervene.  Demanding the removal of choices we oppose, we join the Left in seizing the control that God refused Himself in the Garden.  This validates our rivals.

 

At present, Americans see two parties demanding that their values be everyone’s laws.  But what if only one party did this, with the other allowing all choices that don’t rob the choices of others?  Suddenly, Americans would see Grace versus Control.  Reason versus Selfishness.  Good Guys versus Bad Guys.

 

Jesus understood that when our opponents want to be the bad guys, we should let them.  Don’t bail them out by copying control; use grace instead.  Offering and modeling our views, we are free to expose the Left for seizing control—now there’s a difference!  When I picture Jesus frustrating Pharisees with His approach, I weep at the confidence we’ve given Leftists today.

 

But I understand.  I really do.  We see America slipping away, forsaking a path that led to happiness and prosperity.  So, we forget Christ’s example and try to force things.  Ever grab a handful of sand, only to see it slipping through your fingers?  Try clenching harder—see how that works.  Just as forcing control causes more loss, so barring choices of unbelievers causes more political losses for Conservatism.

 

And worse than political losses, we shrink our audience.  Think about it:  Would you rather listen to those who offer and model their views, or those who control you when they have the majority?  Who is more likely to win you over?  Who will you tune out?  Is it any wonder why many Americans won’t even listen to us?

 

In the end, we can’t sell liberty with control.  It makes no sense.  And the solution lies not in silencing ourselves on social issues or branding fellow Conservatives as “too moderate.”  Neither we nor they are solely to blame, but we can all do better.  For our part, we Christians can shun control and offer what God offers all humankind—choice.

 

Leave control to the Left, and it will be their undoing.  Fight them for control, and they’ll have the upper hand.  As I recall, Jesus never gave them the upper hand.

 

So why should we?

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Comment by Andy Peth on March 22, 2013 at 3:01pm

Hi Yvonne,

 

Sorry to take so long in responding, but I’ve been swamped.  I loved your response, but we don’t disagree nearly as often as you think.  Let me address just a few of your very well-written comments:

 

“perhaps the real problem isn’t that “Christians” want to limit other people’s choices, it is that “Christians” are not living by the principles they profess to believe”

Exactly!  That’s why I call on us to offer and model our message, not force it.  The hypocrisy you describe is a perfect example of us not “modeling” our message.

 

“Tolerance has been redefined to accept another’s perspective as a relative truth, and thus a ‘choice’ or simple disagreement.”

Once again, exactly!  This is why I call on us to not equate “allowing” something with “approving of” it.  The Left demands that we approve of all behaviors at the expense of our beliefs—abandoning our principles.  I ask no such thing.  I simply ask that we sell those principles as Jesus did; with Choice (offering and modeling), not Control (forcing compliance with our views through government action).

 

“As a Christian, one cannot honestly condone, according to the Biblical Christian worldview, sin as acceptable in the name of either choice or tolerance.”

I couldn’t agree more!  But the question is, are we as Christians called to make illegal every behavior that we don’t condone?  God didn’t do this in the garden, Jesus and the Apostles didn’t attempt to impose it on unbelievers, so why would we ignore their example?  Bottom line:  There is no Christian Jihad.  Christianity is based on Grace, not Force.  Nowhere in Scripture are we ever called to go outside the people of God and enforce the moral standards of our faith.

 

“Complacency leads to complicity, especially where the law is concerned.  When one, whether Christian or of another faith or lack thereof, denies the relevance of his own faith in order to appease those of opposing faiths, he does a great injustice to society as a whole.”

I don’t for a second deny the relevance of my faith, whether to appease others or for any other reason.  I live to please God, not men.  I simply ask that we represent our faith as did Jesus, offering and modeling it rather than attempting to impose it upon unbelievers.

 

“Where we part common belief is on the impartation of ‘choice’ in areas that harm human life, such as abortion, and disrupt liberties given by “nature and nature’s God.   We have a Biblical model for jurisprudence that is given as a way of maintaining order and defending the innocent while preventing the guilty from furthering the cause of harm.”

We aren’t parting ways there at all, Yvonne; you’re restating my exact points.  If one person’s choice robs another person’s choice (as I believe occurs in abortion), then the law should limit this choice to preserve choice.  All laws ultimately rest on preventing one choice from robbing another.  This isn’t imposing our Christian beliefs on society (as Planned Parenthood would allege), but rather calling on society to defend the innocent from the guilty.

 

“Concerning the mindset of Jesus, never did He advocate the abolition of the Law or its consequences.  He came not to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).  While it is true that Christians are under grace, they must not use grace as an excuse to justify sin (Romans 3:31 & Galatians 5:13).  Such grace does not do away with the natural consequences of choices, whether good or bad.  Nor does this grace seek to undo a legal foundation comprised of moral principles.”

Again, we’re not parting ways at all, Yvonne.  But understand, the “Law” Jesus fulfilled was that descending through Moses, not American Law.  Never did He advocate for imposing our beliefs on those who didn’t share them.  Never.  Not a single time.  And if God Himself wouldn’t prevent us from suffering the “natural consequences of choices” in the Garden of Eden, who are we to prevent unchristian choices today?  Yes, when one choice violates another (as you pointed out), then we as citizens should call on removing or limiting it.  But that’s not the same as simply removing or punishing choices that we as Christians find to be immoral.

 

“Assuming that true choices can only be made in the absence of legitimate laws and morality is a fallacy.”

I’ve made no such argument.  Why would I?  I’m simply saying that we should offer and model our message as did Jesus, rather than going beyond His example to imposing our values through governmental power.

 

Honestly Yvonne, here’s the biggest question:  How can we best share the message of Christ?  Do we share it though Choice (as did Jesus) or Control? 

 

Which way is more effective?  Definitely Choice; it’s not even close.

 

Which way empowers the Left?  Definitely Control; again, it’s not even close.  Whereas Jesus put the Pharisees in the terrible role of "Controllers," we foolishly put ourselves in that role.  The results of ignoring Christ's strategic example aren't surprising, in that we're getting crushed, and the Left almost always emphasizes those few areas where we replace the Choice of Jesus with the Control of Us.

 

Yvonne, you and I have very, very little upon which we disagree, and I thoroughly enjoyed your response.  I don’t see you as someone wanting the US Government to act as an agent of Christian Jihad; I just think we have a misunderstanding.

 

Think about raising children.  Which parents will more successfully impart Christian values to their children—those who mandate what is necessary for protection but offer and model the rest, or those who mandate agreement with all of it?  Look at the Christian families you’ve known, and ask yourself, “What sells better with kids?  Choice with Reason, or Control with Denial of Choice?”

 

Yvonne, just as Choice with Reason brings about far better results with children in a family, so Choice with Reason also brings about far more agreement with our message in a society.  Jesus was right, as always—Offer and Model, don’t Force.  Choice, not Control.  Grace, not Jihad.

 

After all, don’t we want more people to discover the same freedom in Christ that you and I enjoy?

Comment by Yvonne Michelle Gerhardt on March 8, 2013 at 11:21am

On many levels I agree with your comments.  However, perhaps the real problem isn’t that “Christians” want to limit other people’s choices, it is that “Christians” are not living by the principles they profess to believe.  Moral relativism has encroached in to nearly every aspect of our lives, including the church.  Tolerance has been redefined to accept another’s perspective as a relative truth, and thus a “choice” or simple disagreement. 

 

This political battle is not by any means about forcing one’s beliefs on to another … or is it?  Factually, every “choice” is based on one’s interpretation of morality.  As a Christian, one cannot honestly condone, according to the Biblical Christian worldview, sin as acceptable in the name of either choice or tolerance.  Complacency leads to complicity, especially where the law is concerned.  When one, whether Christian or of another faith or lack thereof, denies the relevance of his own faith in order to appease those of opposing faiths, he does a great injustice to society as a whole.  Retrospectively, religion is not the problem.  A society built upon vacillating ideology is.

 

Where we part common belief is on the impartation of “choice” in areas that harm human life, such as abortion, and disrupt liberties given by “nature and nature’s God.”   We have a Biblical model for jurisprudence that is given as a way of maintaining order and defending the innocent while preventing the guilty from furthering the cause of harm. 

 

Furthermore, when living in a free society where the people have the Constitutional right to determine leaders, they also have a stewardship responsibility to make informed decisions based on moral principles—not those which will appease the masses.  This is the beauty of federalism within a true Republic.  Fundamental freedoms and protections shall not be compromised when the declination of the majority insists on transformations which defy our Constitution and the inalienable rights which stem from the Creator. 

 

I shudder to think that our Founding Fathers would have so lucidly thought that preserving the pillars this nation was built upon ought to be relinquished in the name of national unity.  In fact, our Founding Fathers were quite clear about gray areas of politics.  John Adams warned, “In politics the middle way is none at all.”  Alexander Hamilton expressed that “those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.”  Thomas Jefferson admonished the people by explaining that “all tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” 

 

Concerning the mindset of Jesus, never did He advocate the abolition of the Law or its consequences.  He came not to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).  While it is true that Christians are under grace, they must not use grace as an excuse to justify sin (Romans 3:31 & Galatians 5:13).  Such grace does not do away with the natural consequences of choices, whether good or bad.  Nor does this grace seek to undo a legal foundation comprised of moral principles.

 

Nevertheless, for those who are not of the Christian faith, society still demands of them order and justice.  But when the laws become so detrimental to the inherent rights of man that they cease to allow an equal application of justice to every man, woman, and child, they need to be changed.  I contend that such equal applications of justice have been perverted by a liberal lot to mean something entirely different than that which our forefathers intended. 

 

Assuming that true choices can only be made in the absence of legitimate laws and morality is a fallacy.  The either-or argument negates the importance of balance on a truly fair scale.  In reality, all people have choices which may or may not defy the laws of man, nature, and nature’s God … but none of us may escape the consequences of those choices, or subsequent choices.  Even the acceptance of Christ-oriented grace is a choice, but not one that all men will make.

Comment by Sue Bosier on March 5, 2013 at 1:46pm

Thank you Andy! 

Comment by W. Branstetter on February 28, 2013 at 11:51pm

Thank you for posting this article, Andy.

 

For those who have not met Andy you may not know that he has been writing a lot about "choice" and a variety of issues.  Look for all of the essays at:  http://www.thepartyofchoice.com/

 

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