*The below post is not meant to point fingers, disrespect those who may know me personally, or tell you you’re wrong. It’s simply a sharing of something has been on my heart for a long time. I’ve started and stopped this post more times than I can count out of fear of offending someone I care about as I come from a largely conservative family and a couple of my closest friends are proud Republicans. But those people know me, know my heart, and know I love them for who they are, even if we don’t share the exact same beliefs. I believe each of our journeys with what we believe and what we stand for is unique and individual and that we should be not only be allowed to share our thoughts, but have those thoughts and beliefs respected.
Additionally, I’ve learned that when there’s something I feel called to say or do or be, I need to listen and I need to follow it. My track record of heeding those calls has resulted in some pretty epic experiences. And so, with substantial anxiety, I’m clicking the publish button. I hope you’ll read this. I hope if you disagree with me, you will do so respectfully. Mostly, I hope if you feel like me, you’ll know you aren’t alone. Because I’ve certainly felt alone in my feelings on this often. I’ve had everything from direct, hurtful comments to passive aggressive comments, from “must listen” sermons to “you need to read this” books” sent my way for expressing a dissenting opinion. It’s terrifying to step out and say “this is what I believe,” but sometimes, it’s necessary. And my heart tells me this is a necessary post. And with that, I click publish.
How can you claim to be a Christian and vote for a democrat?
I’ve been asked this question several times over the last few months. Sometimes I haven’t been so much asked as had it insinuated. Us southerners are nothing if not good at speaking in entendre.
I grew up being told what to believe. I think most of us do, but that’s a topic for another day. I was told what Jesus would do, how Jesus would act, what Jesus would want me to do. Without any other reference point, I took that as the way things were and didn’t question it.
But then… I started to experience life for myself. I found myself in situations that made me wonder if what I was told Jesus would do was actually what Jesus would do.
I had read the Bible twice before, but last year, I read it again and the words landed differently. Some of it was the translation. It wasn’t the King James version I grew up with, a translation that can be difficult to follow. I read the She Reads Truth Bible which is a Common Standard Translation. I understood it. I took copious notes. I wrote verses down on post-it notes and kept them on my fridge, at my desk, on my coffee table where I couldn’t miss them. It was a study Bible, and I studied it cover to cover, line by line.
What I ultimately took away from it was that Jesus would love – and He wants us to love.
And, quite clearly, that it wasn’t my place to judge another. Yes, there is an outline on how to live a “Christian life” in the Bible. But the Bible also says it’s down to God to make the final judgment on others, not mine or yours, just in case we’re splitting hairs here.
My job – your job – is to love them, even those “not good Christians,” like Jesus would.
I’ve wrestled with what I was told Jesus would do versus what I thought he would do for a long time. The first time that conflict presented itself was in college when I was faced with abortion for the first time.
I was staunchly pro-life, simply because I had grown up being told that was the way and I never thought to question it. When my roommate came stumbling in one afternoon over fall break and confessed through a sea of tears that she had had an abortion earlier in the week, I was faced with my first moral conflict. We weren’t especially close. We merely existed in the same space, traveled in very different circles. But I still knew her, and I saw her heart. As we sat together on her tiny twin bed and I listened to her story, I couldn’t find fault with her decisions. It wasn’t the decision I would have made, but it was the decision she needed to make. We prayed together and then I made myself scarce so she could have a good cry and pray some more. We did that several times during those few days when we had no classes to go to and no other roommates to interrupt us. It was just us, living in a bubble where she was allowed to hurt and feel in a judgment-free space.
From that day forward, I become pro-choice.
My personal choice is pro-life, but I realized that day that the reason I get to choose pro-life is because I get to choose. Jesus wouldn’t have me sit there and lecture her about something she couldn’t change. He would want me to do what I did: offer her my shoulder to lean on through her struggles.
It’s what Jesus would do after all. He wouldn’t turn away from her or cross her name off the “good Christian” list. He would love her and accept her as she was.
Gay marriage – the entire concept of gay relationships – was another moment of conflict.
My brother is gay. I have other family members that identify as non-straight and I’m a firm believer that every girl needs a gay BFF. No one quite tells it like it is like a gay BFF. I was told men shouldn’t “like” men and women shouldn’t “like” women. That marriage is between a man and a woman, the end. I’ll even yield to the crowd that says “but the Bible says so!” Yes, it is in the Bible. So is polygomy though – those Old Testament dudes had a lot of wives – and don’t most of us disagree with that these days?
But you know what? Hot tea coming here…
The Old Testament was written between roughly 1200 and 165 BC, the New Testament in the first century AD. The Bible is old. It was a translation of words and preachings and experiences. We have no way of knowing if every word is fact or if literary liberties were taken. Jesus didn’t write his own book after all and which one of you would tell the absolute truth if asked to write about your life and experiences? To me, the Bible is meant to be taken as a whole, not verbatim. We’re supposed to take its overall messages (ahem, love), not go in search of the one or two sentences that might prove a point (because, more tea here, there’s probably a sentence in those thousands upon thousands of sentences that will offer the counter argument within those pages).
And so, as I started to develop these relationships with gay BFFs and watched my brother come out, my heart changed again. I know these people. I know their hearts. Their big, beautiful hearts. They deserve love as much as I do, right down to marriage and families. If Jesus wants us to love, who am I to tell them they can’t love someone of the same orientation? Who am I to judge their choices? I happen to know some really wonderful non-straight individuals who identify as Christians and are serving this world in incredible ways, ways that love others like Jesus would. I have a hard time seeing them being turned away at the Pearly Gates by the very person that encouraged that love.
I don’t identify as republican or democrat. Never have. I’ve always been an independent voter, the person who takes the time to research candidates and see what they are about, what their record is like. I choose the candidate that best aligns with my beliefs and needs. It’s never a perfect match, but it’s the best way I know.
And the last time I checked, there wasn’t a verse in the Bible that said I had to be a conservative in order to be a Christian.
Some of you have read this nodding your head in agreement. Others of you have read it thinking I’m going straight to Hell. I’m not here to question your beliefs. I’m here to explain mine. I might ask you why you believe in something though. Because I’ve found when asked “why,” a lot of times we (I include myself in that) don’t actually know. We just grew up with that belief and never thought to question it, at least not until you’re confronted with a crying roommate that needs your help.
Pro Black Lives Matter.
Pro being a good person.
I’m also a Christian.
I’m pro people, you see. And I think Jesus would be too.