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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Red or blue? Right or left? They're both wrong.

Ecclesiastes 12:10 The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words, and that which was written blamelessly, words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads; and like nails well fastened are words from the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. (Scripture quotations from the World English Bible, public domain)

It's dangerous to read too much into a Bible passage, but this one seems to be saying that there is really only one source of truth, one shepherd. Others may speak, or write, but what they say should be measured against Christ's character and His teachings.

It is unfortunately true that one of the results of the multiplication of media outlets is that people can pick some that match their biases and predispositions, or their religion or race, and never even see or hear from other sources that may disagree. This was illustrated by a recent report in Wired. The author decided to "like" everything he saw in Facebook, including things that he definitely didn't like, to see what would happen. He reports "As day one rolled into day two, I began dreading going to Facebook. It had become a temple of provocation. Just as my News Feed had drifted further and further right, so too did it drift further and further left." In other words, what he saw matched what Facebook thought he really did like. In this case, the author was seeing bias in both directions, but most Facebook users, perhaps unconsciously, have their information and opinion sources tilted in only one direction. We tend to watch, read and listen to news sources that agree with our previous opinions.

So who is right? Whoops! Who is correct?

Both the right and the left, the red and the blue, are wrong.

A few years ago, this blog noted that abortion seemed to have suddenly ceased being the most important political issue for conservative Christians, and had been replaced by immigration concerns. Why? The influence of Lou Dobbs and other TV commentators. But the most important source of the political inspiration of Christians should be the Bible, not media personalities.

Both the left and the right, the red and the blue, are wrong. How?

* The right tends to ignore the plight of the poor, minorities, and otherwise less powerful people, including immigrants. For the Christian, there should be sympathy for immigrants, illegal or not, and concern for their spiritual and economic welfare. The Old Testament speaks about being kind to strangers. So does the New. Leviticus 19:33 "If a stranger lives as a foreigner with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 The stranger who lives as a foreigner with you shall be to you as the native-born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you lived as foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God." Injustice and racism are wrong. Psalm 72 speaks of the role of government (in that case, King David, who was the government) in helping and protecting the poor.
* The right tends to believe that the way to solve many problems is to send in troops, or to use bombs, or to use, sell or give away more weapons and ammunition. It seems to forget that Christ didn't say "stand your ground," but "turn the other cheek." How much violence in other countries would never have happened without US military aid? How many repressive dictatorships has such aid propped up? Too many.
* The right believes that the most important political and economic solutions are to cut taxes, if possible to zero, and to let the free enterprise system have unregulated license to act in the best interests of the stockholders. The free enterprise system has its place, but it has led to pollution and other problems. It bears at least some of the blame for the recent recession, where the US economy declined by about a third in the space of a year of so. Taxes are needed for roads and other infrastructure, for funding regulatory agencies, for public schools, for paying police, firefighters, and troops, (and politicians -- including those who want to cut taxes!) and for other things.

* The left seems to want to ignore Biblical teachings on sex and marriage. Homosexual activity is wrong. (See here). Many Christians, and others, believe that abortion is murder. (See here.)
* The left seems to want to ignore property rights. Although the New Testament says very little about property, the Old Testament indicates that it was very important to the Jews, and taking someone's property without just compensation is just as wrong as denying someone a job because of their ethnic background.
* The left seems to believe that the most important political and economic solutions are to increase government size and the amount of government regulation. Government agencies have their place -- I'm grateful for the Social Security Administration, for example -- but they also tend to get mired down in red tape, and submit to the wishes of special interests, rather than doing what they were originally supposed to do. And government does cost money, lots of it.

God help me to take a Biblical position, if I need to take a political position at all. The left and right are both partly wrong, in serious ways. Thanks for reading.


FancyHorse said...

Absolutely, I have long agreed with this. Jesus was more liberal than conservatives want to admit, and more conservative than liberals want to admit. Thank you for saying this, and saying it so well.

Martin LaBar said...

Well, you agree with my biases! Thanks.