Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why American Christians should care about the policies of President Obama

A Recent Debate

This weekend, I ended up in a friendly debate thread on Facebook with a pastor friend of mine regarding a Twitter/Facebook update he posted which read as follows:

Hey Christian, Repub. doesn't = Christian, & Obama isn't trying 2 brainwash your kid. You live in a democracy; he won; he's your president.

I'm assuming my pastor buddy was making a reference to the recent political outrage over President Obama's planned address to students across the United States on Tuesday, September 8. If the President only discusses the importance of education for school aged children, that's not a problem with me. I think this is a noble, positive endeavor. We will find out more about his true intentions when he gives the actual speech.

While I don't have any concerns about my own daughters being brainwashed on Tuesday, I do have larger concerns about the potentially disastrous results that his policies could bring upon our nation, especially in terms of fiscal responsibility and stability. In the course of this post, I will spend the majority of my time focused on the financial/stewardship aspects of the President's policies since that is the primary thrust of this blog.

Political Background

I agree with my friend that the Republican Party does not equal Christian. Neither party has a lock on moral, religious issues. There are Christians as well as deeply religious people in both parties. Also, members of both political parties have their moral failings. We are all sinful creatures in a fallen world as a result of the curse of sin back in the Garden of Eden. As a student of history, though, I would make these general statements about the two parties:
  1. Both parties have various factions. The Republican Party has fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, neoconservatives, religious right, moderates, and liberals. The Democrat Party has liberals, moderates, conservatives, libertarians, and ethnic minorities.
  2. Party affiliation does not necessarily make you a liberal or conservative. Not all Republicans are conservative. Not all Democrats are liberal.
  3. In each party, one faction tends to establish the primary message. In the Republican Party, the fiscal and social conservatives by and large set the party platform. In the Democrat Party, the liberal wing calls the shots.
  4. The conservative movement and the Christian Right within the Republican Party have aligned themselves with upholding a code of morality that has been inherent since the founding of our nation. Conservatives hold that the founding fathers were guided by natural, moral law (such as the Ten Commandments) and wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalists Papers with natural, moral law as our nation's foundation. [Please Note: those who claim the name of Christ should have a universal standard - the truth of God's Word. The Bible.]
  5. The liberal wing of the Democrat Party has aligned themselves as moral relativists. Moral relativists hold that no universal standard exists by which to access an ethical proposition's truth. Many would claim that the Democrat Party has lost it's moral compass on what is truly right and wrong. As the self-proclaimed progressive party, their leadership has decided that they will be the champions for abortion, gay rights, and other highly controversial moral issues.
  6. Regarding economic policy, liberals tend to have a "Feed a man a fish and you feed him for a day" mentality. Liberals define compassion as starting government programs that give away money, services, and assistance in order to help people. These programs tend to grow into large, bureaucratic agencies that are not scalable. The poor remain poor because they continue to be dependent on the assistance of the federal government. While helping people is a noble cause, many disagree with the effectiveness of the liberal approach.
  7. Regarding economic policy, fiscal conservatives tend to have a "Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" mentality. Conservatives define compassion as helping people reach their full potential as employees, business owners, and contributing members of society.
  8. President Obama is a liberal Democrat. It is not a big secret that President Obama is of the extreme liberal wing of the Democrat party. Since Senator Barack Obama was a relative new comer to the national scene for the 2008 Presidential race, he did not have as extensive a record as others such as Senator John McCain. Mr. Obama was able to position himself as moderate, but in reality, he has strong ties to the liberal faction of the party as well as a voting record, books, and speeches that paint a clearer picture of what he truly believes.
  9. The pop culture media does have a moral and political bias. Most print journalism such as newspapers and magazines, the TV networks, and Hollywood movie culture have all done a superb job of promulgating moral relativism into the mainstream of American culture. They paint conservatives as uncompassionate, greedy, hate-filled, racist, sexist people that care only about earning their next buck. Liberals get a free pass on their agenda of consolidating more power into the central federal government, all in the name of compassion.
Why American Christians should care

Since the inauguration on January 20, 2009, the Obama Administration has demonstrated that they do not fully understand sound financial policy. They have been throwing away good money after bad with a stimulus package, bank and insurance company bailouts, as well as auto company bailouts. They are currently pushing the "Cap and Trade" and national healthcare policies through Congress that will cost trillions of dollars, as well as increase yearly budget deficits and the overall national debt. These policies, if passed, will cause Americans to have to pay more in utility services and taxes. Our take home pay will continue to shrink, leaving Christians with less money in order to fulfill the following Scriptural mandates:

If you are passionate about being a good steward of all God has blessed you with, this is why you as a Christ follower should care about the Obama Administration's policy plans that they are currently pursuing:
  1. God has called Christians to be good stewards of His money (read the Parable of the Talents). Most Americans pay taxes, including American Christians, and every year our tax responsibility seems to be growing larger. The government continues to grow larger and larger, requiring more tax money from its citizens. This leads to less money for Christians to manage and spend in a way that is pleasing to God. Also, continually increasing the debt load on our nation is bad stewardship and does not fix the real issues. Throwing money at problems is not a good long term solution for people's personal finances or our nation's economy. American Christians have been given a trust, and we have been called to prove ourselves faithful with that trust (1 Corinthians 4:2).
  2. God has also called Christians to "give to Caesar what is Caesar's." When Christ made this statement to religious leaders in Matthew 22:15-22, he was speaking to the subject of paying taxes to the Roman government. The everyday man that lived under Roman oppression had no voice, no say, in his taxation. The beauty of the American form of government is that WE CAN HAVE A VOICE in the amount of taxes we pay to the federal government. We can attend a protest rally. We can call, write, and email our senators and representatives. We can debate the issues through outlets such as talk radio, blogs, and forums. We can exert the power of Stewardship of Influence. Some Christians would argue that the American people have voted, the America we once knew is over, the world is getting worse, the end times are near, so we shouldn't be concerned with what is happening in our country. While I agree that we should anticipate the coming of our Lord, this doesn't mean we don't give up our civic and moral responsibilities as American citizens and Christians. Read Matthew 24:45-51 for Christ's take on our servant/stewardship role as we await His return. Also note, that even the Apostle Paul used the rights he had under his Roman citizenship for his own personal, political, and gospel-spreading advantage in Acts 25-26.
  3. God has called the church to help the poor and needy, not the government. The federal government has co-opted the church's role in helping others, and unfortunately, the church has allowed it to happen. Over the last several years, the American church has become a country club instead of a hospital. Now is the time for the church to reassume its role in helping others who are in need. We need to take this issue back from liberals and the federal government. Rise up, O American Church, and fulfill the calling of God in this important area.

In closing, I want to make it perfectly clear that I don't have an axe to grind with President Obama. That is not the intent of this post. My only intention is to point out the perceived flaws in his domestic economic policies that, if implemented, will impact the ability of American Christians to be the best managers of what God has provided for us.

With the recent downturn in our economy in 2008-2009, we see increasing numbers of churches, charities, and non-profits struggling to stay afloat as the average American Christian has less money to give away and still have the ability to provide for his family. The other side of this statement is that most Christians do not truly follow the giving model as outlined in Scripture because they have made materialism their god, but that is a blog post for another day.

President Obama is an articulate, intelligent man who ran a great political race and was voted in as President. He has a beautiful family and, from outside observation, seems to be an extremely devoted husband and father. I praise him for his demonstration of strong family values. I give him the honor and respect he is due as articulated by the Apostle Paul in Romans 13:6-7. In the American form of government, though, we can still respect our government authorities, yet voice our disagreement with administration and congressional policies that will ultimately be harmful to the American way of life.

In the end, though, I acknowledge that God is is in control. His ways are not our ways. He may have allowed President Obama to be elected President to cause further economic turmoil for greater purposes. We may never ultimately know this side of Heaven. Once we reach Heaven, we won't even care!

I will pray for my President. I will pray that my President will seek out and execute wisdom, not for the purposes of strengthening the position of a cause or political party, but for what is ultimately best for the American way of life - freedom. Freedom is the foundation on which our government rests, and I fear that too many of our freedoms are slowly being taken away from us in the name of personal security.

Do you care about the government policies that are currently being debated and why?

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