Reckoning with my political beliefs and religion

Haley Keizur is a senior media studies major.

GRAPHIC BY HALEY KEIZUR/FOGHORN

“So, you’re Christian and liberal? How does that work?”

I’ve been asked this a surprising number of times. It wasn’t until moving to San Francisco my freshman year that I realized these two values don’t always co-exist. Recently, I was asked how I could support Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden because his policies are so “anti-biblical,” which caused me to pause and consider how my religious and political views intersect. I concluded that it works because I don’t believe liberal policies are anti-biblical; if anything, they follow some of the same missions that Jesus did during his time on earth.

So, yes! I am a Christian, and I’m a Democrat. Here’s how.

All political parties are imperfect, and full-heartedly following one ideology over all others is going to lead to faults. And of course, like with many texts, the Bible can be interpreted in numerous ways, particularly when considering the historical landscape in which it was written.  Heck, there are four gospels in the New Testament that tell nearly the same stories, but each version has its distinctions.

However, one thing that is universal in the Bible is love. John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” Romans 12:10: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” In fact, in some versions of the Bible, the phrase “Love one another” appears more than 10 times in the New Testament, many of which were said by Jesus himself.

If a Christian’s utmost commandment is to love others, then fighting for equality, justice, respect, and human rights seem to be great ways to show that you love and care about others. In my opinion, that’s what being progressive means. It means freedom for all. And most Christians know from the first chapter of the Bible that God, with intention, gave humans free will. He gave us the ability to make choices, and yet he also provided consequences for our choices. 

Sin is often a debated topic and tends to slither into conversations that involve both politics and religion. While God did not create sin, He decided what is and isn’t sinful, and from my understanding, the actions that are considered to be sins are what God perceives will cause us harm and separation from Him. When I changed my mindset to this, it allowed me to take a new approach to understanding sin. 

Let’s take gay marriage, for example, which is one of the most heated debates in the intersection of Christianity and U.S. politics. This argument is twofold because first, you must decide whether you believe it is a sin and whether yes or no, how you will respond. The biblical book Leviticus is notorious for its anti-gay sentiments, however, it doesn’t discuss same-sex relationships in the way we understand them now. Many of the parables have other elements impacting them, such as gang rape, lack of consent, breaking marital pacts, and adults sexually engaging with children. In Graeco-Roman culture, gender roles played a huge role in the shame surrounding same-sex relationships — not due to homosexuality itself, but rather because it was believed one of the men would have to take on a more “feminine” role in sexual encounters. 

Let’s say you still believe homosexuality is a sin because that’s what the Bible tells you. Fair. You can also read that the Bible says that we shouldn’t wear mixed-fabric, eat pork, get tattoos, have pre-marital sex, interbreed animals, etc. While many biblical laws make a lot of sense, many of them are no longer upheld by Christians today. Therefore, to believe one perceived sin like homosexuality is set in stone while others are ignorable is blatantly hypocritical. You wouldn’t tell someone who had had pre-marital sex that they don’t have the right to get married. You wouldn’t send someone who eats pork to conversion therapy. You wouldn’t deny a job to someone wearing both wool and silk. These sins ultimately should not dictate government and personal matters, especially if they aren’t consistently upheld.

While I strongly believe in the separation of church and state as a whole in the government, you cannot let religion and politics live in two separate parts of your heart. Especially with an upcoming election, it’s important to slow down and understand both of those within you, especially when your vote, your voice, directly impacts other people’s lives, not just your own. As a Christian, no matter your political beliefs, you can’t just choose to disregard elements of the Bible. However, you should use tools and historical and moral guidelines to properly judge the text, while also considering the influences of the past 2,000 years on the changes and translations.

Many of the issues in the Bible are not solvable. We may never know God’s true thoughts on consensual same-sex relationships, and yet the Bible is clear in how we should treat each other. God does not call for division, He doesn’t call for hate, and this is all I seem to see in Christian communities at the moment. While no person is a bad Christian for how they choose to interpret and live out their faith, I do believe they can be a bad person. 

The Bible says to love one another, to honor one another, to live in harmony with one another, to serve one another, to speak truth to one another. To me, the best way to do that is to continue to fight for the rights of my neighbors by voting for Democratic candidates that support and uphold my beliefs and continue to enact policies that support the wellbeing of all individuals. As I submit my ballot this election, I will be making sure to vote for one another.

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