Two-issue Christians too narrow

Abortion and homosexuality are legitimate ethical issues for Christians to consider. But only within the last quarter-century has the broad field of Christian ethics, for some, been almost exclusively defined by these two issues.

So it is not surprising that religiously and politically conservative individuals and organizations shape every political debate now in terms of these two issues.

In the Oct. 9 issue of the Georgia Baptist Convention newspaper, The Christian Index, one pastor echoed this point to his congregation in intentional defiance of IRS regulations that forbid endorsement of candidates by churches that benefit from tax-exempt status. He endorsed Sen.John McCain from the pulpit as part of the Sept. 28 “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”

“I am clearly not waving McCain’s banner and would not call him the embodiment of Christian morality,” said Jody Hice, pastor of First Baptist Church of Bethlehem, Ga. “But on the two issues most important to believers in this election — abortion and the definition of marriage — I believe he is closer than Obama.”

The opposite page in the Index carried a “voter issue guide” produced by and “approved” by the falwellian Liberty Counsel and Liberty Legal Institute.”

The guide places “Yes” or “No” answers below the names and photos of the two presidential candidates. Of the 14 political positions listed — nine relate to either abortion or homosexuality.

Aside from one each about cloning and education, the remaining three deal with drilling for oil, removing troops from Iraq and whether or not the candidates oppose a ban on assault weapons.

There is nothing about preemptive war, racism, poverty, infant mortality, the environment, immigration, care for widows and orphans or many other ethical issues. One can only assume that is the result of limited space.

The guide, readers are told, is provided as “a public service to our readers without an endorsement of either candidate.”

That clarification is helpful. I just wish biblical texts had been included so I can find more clearly what Jesus said about assault rifles and drilling for oil.


  1. Interesting story on Sarah Palin and small town America today in NY Times.
    And the Frank Rich Story about the terror of McCain ralleys last week.
    But until say the Rome News Tribune converts Floyd County to the wisdom of Susan Shaw who was raised it appears under the preaching of Jerry Vines; what are we to do.
    Ron Rash is Number 7 this week on Amazon in historical fiction.
    Check out page 300 in his latest novel Serena on the Preacher McIntyre and dualism; and look for my letter in Newsweek not next week, but the week after.

    Sfox in the heart of Palin country in NE Bama

  2. I’m sorry but forgot to say Palin will be the subject on NPR Fresh Air tomorrow check local listings.
    Features two Alaska journalists.
    Fresh Air in times past has hosted both Randall Balmer and Charles Kimball.

  3. J.D.,

    You said,

    “I just wish biblical texts had been included so I can find more clearly what Jesus said about assault rifles and drilling for oil.”

    I guess those texts are in the same book that records what Jesus said about preemptive war, the environment, immigration and infant mortality.

    Despite your leftward bias and blindness, you have hit on an important point: once we begin to define Christianity in terms of partisan politics or social movements, we will invariably become lopsided in our emphasis and must warp Jesus’ message in an effort to make it appear that He is on our side. This has been done by virtually all political parties throughout American history.

    Have you noticed that, through all the political hubris of the past 30 years, no one debates much any more about how to know you are going to heaven when you die or how to prepare for he day of judgment? And yet these are what Jesus and His apostles talked about continually.

    Jesus’ words that come to mind: “My kingdom is not of this world.”

    Mark Osgatharp
    Wynne, Arkansas

  4. Mark, you have succinctly stated the truth. The Religious Left clamors about the Religious Right and vice versa. The Left usually does so under the pretense of being non-partisan (that is, they are not Republicans) Simply put, the Left, like the Right, wants government to carry out THEIR agenda. Lets be Christians, not political hacks trying to get government on our side.

  5. readers digest versions always are incomplete and not to be used for serious readers.
    the same is true in all areas of Christianity.
    In out culture, too many prefer the simplistic over the simple.
    Politicians love simplistic people since they sell their votes for the right words on one or two issues.

  6. Mark,

    Wow! I cannot believe that I am saying this, but I totally agree with your comment (except the part about leftward bias and blindness).Conservatively Moderates can learn from Landmarkists! And hopefully, vice versa (or I assume that you would not read Baptists Today)

    I hope that you are doing well and just to let you know I did respond to your final point on Isaiah on Tony Cartledge’s blog, August 15. I had several pastoral care issues that came up at that time that put me in a time crunch.

    Bottom line, most people vote for a candidate based on 1-2 issues that are important to themselves, rather than the total platform of the candidate or party. Rarely do voters (including me, for that matter) see how the candidates’ positions on certain issues like abortion and homosexuality are intertwined with their positions on war, the economy, or whatever.



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