A New Vision

  Ever since the new deal and the merging of the religious right with the Republican Party American politics and religious values have been fiercely at odds with those whom the right sees as morally corrupt and weak on domestic security and foreign relations. The left believes that conservatives are overzealous and hypocritical on numerous issues such as abortion rights and gun control. They are looked at as the enemy and violently and militantly atheistic in their beliefs. Because of this view the right fights back hard. Battle lines have been drawn leaving very little room for any grey area. Either you’re with us or against or we ignore you or beat you into submission. 

It is because of these contentious and often vitriolic debates and conversations that no one from the outside looking in can be heard. It is time to change the conversation and it starts with a new vision for America. 

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,”
Today America is in chaos and doesn’t know where to turn. There is too much talking and not enough actual listening to people from either side. Therein lies the problem. No one is willing to discard their preconceived beliefs and take in new evidence because many don’t trust the other side or fear that their grip on power might be threatened. These problems revolve around more recently the black lives matter movement, abortion, gay-rights, poverty, the war on drugs, refugees, immigrants, etc. I see these problems as being able to be solved quit easily by looking back to the words of Christ. Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor.   

It should be quit evident that if you love God then you will love His image. Unfortunately, many have tried to degrade His image or attempt to dehumanized them making them out to be less than human controlled by animalistic instincts and incapable of intelligence. This practice must be abandoned across the board. All human beings , no matter their background, have been made in God’s image and no other created thing can ever take that away.

If you love God’s image then refugees and immigrants should be aided in their pursuit of a new life in safety and security. This could best be done by passing comprehensive immigration reform and helping them to create jobs that could help them and their families.

The war on drugs could best be solved by the decriminalization of marijuana and making medical marijuana and other non dangerous drugs legal and readily available for those who need it. It would also be wise to give rehabilitation services and drugs like Ibogaine or other such treatments could help save lives and ween people off of deadly drugs.

We could tackle poverty by providing education as well as prison reform by banning the box that asks about past convictions, providing counseling to inmates, giving access to libraries, schooling, and working skills like welding etc. We must also get away from mandatory minimum sentencing. 

Looking at Gay rights involves making sure their rights are respected at their places of work and in their day to day lives. For many the issue of gay rights is a religious issue and a hotly contested one at that. Those religious citizens that oppose say that homosexuality is a choice and that their situation would change if they would just stop acting on their desires and become straight. When they say that they can’t and that they’ve tried their response is to try harder or seek a therapist. The inherent problem with this position is that it necessarily sets up an us against them mentality and that those that don’t do as we do or think as we think will go to hell. It forces people to refuse to place themselves in the oppressed party’s shoes and necessarily calls for a separation from our humanity in order to appease a religious dogma and belief that creates real pain and insurmountable suffering for millions of people around the world. This is not love for God’s image because love for God’s image requires getting out of our comfort zone and put on the other persons shoes. This is what Christ taught with the Good Samaritan parable. It requires us to see things through their eyes despite what we think religion or the status quo might say or dictate. One cannot be separate but equal and deny justice to some while giving it to others. Either we love God and respect all people and embrace diversity because it was created by God or we reject God and His ability to create people different from ourselves with different beliefs, ethnicity’s, cultures, religions, and sexual orientations. We must be consistent because God Himself is consistent as well as the creator of a diverse universe. We cannot divorce ourselves from our humanity because we feel detached from the situation or it makes us feel superior. We must humble ourselves before God and learn to love and appreciate all that God has to offer and grow from it. For these reasons we must provide equality for LGBT people.

God is always and unequivocally on the side of the oppressed and marginalized in society. He never denies or attempts to deny their pain and suffering. He doesn’t blow it off as some sort of trick, driven by agenda, or driven by lust. He recognizes pain when He sees it and comforts those who experience it. 

Do not involve yourselves with doctrines and teachings that bring about destruction and degradation instead of life and edification.

Abortion is another hotly debated issue as well as the death penalty which both pertain to life. For liberals this issue is framed as a women’s rights issue where no one has the right to touch her body but her. For conservatives it has come down to a ban on all abortions except for cases of rape or incest. I am of the opinion ,however, that neither of these positions are correct. They do not protect or show a love for God’s image. One seems heartless and selfish and the other seems overzealous and self righteous. I see a different path one that would ensure life and make both parties happy. It is clear that abortions are fueled by a bad economy and little to no sex education. My proposal would be mandatory sex education in the 8th grade as well as free contraception and revitalizing the economy by biblical standards. Now they will be though let’s say that we don’t want to give contraceptions away because that gives you an idea but premarital sex is OK. However the reality is is that no one is going to stop people think they want to they will find a way and you cannot be stop them. Therefore, it would be logical to do what we can and what is most practical to ensure that those who engage are well protected and informed about the risks so that they can take necessary steps. 

With the death penalty it is imperative that if we claim that life is sacred in the womb and has human potential the same must be said for those on death row. One cannot be pro life for one thing and pro-death for the other. Consistency is key. Just as Christ was and still is the rehabilitator of the lost so too we who have been redeemed must show that same courtesy to others made in His image. Matthew 18:32-33 records Jesus giving a parable about an unforgiving servant and says, 

“Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’” 

It is is quite evident that Christ is telling His followers to treat others how we would want to be treated. 

On the issue of the black lives matter movement we must ensure that justice and racial reconciliation is a top priority in our homes, schools, churches, work environments, and politics. This also includes all racial minorities. We must implement mandatory cultural sensitivity classes to drive the unity that our nation so desires. If we are to love our neighbor than we must learn to love their culture, religion, and ethnicity. In short we must love all of the person and not just a part of them. 

We must also learn to love our enemies. Scripture instructs us to pray for those who persecute us and to turn the other cheek. This is no less important when talking about ISIS. In accordance with loving our neighbor we must do everything possible to preserve the lives of our enemies and to help them rehabilitate back into society if at all possible. 

We must also give to them what is required to sustain and improve their society as Christ called us to go the extra mile. To basically kill them with kindness. Provide education, help rebuild infrastructure, provide security, etc. 

When it comes to protection and gun laws it is important that we implement background checks and limit the types of guns as well as the quantity that people can acquire. If we love life and God’s image then we must use only necessary force when attempting to apprehend a threat. There is no need for weapons designed to kill in mass or hunting rifles that utterly destroy an animal or prey. In this respect we can learn something from the Native American people about respect for life and taking only what is needed and never wasting anything. We would all do well to implement these practices when it comes to gun use. 

All of these things fall under the commandment to love God and love our neighbors because how could we truly love God without fully loving our neighbor and doing whatever possible to ensure security and prosperity for all people made in His image.
What is love? 
1 Corinthians 13

The Way of Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:20-21
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:8
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Romans 13:10
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 

If we disagree on any of these things let us do a Paul advised in Romans 14:1-4 saying, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” And in Romans 14:19, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

This is the new vision: To love and make love the root of every action that we take and allow it to guide us into the light and away from fear, degradation, and death and into hope, edification, and life.