Tuesday, October 23, 2012

There Are Many Sins (Why I Hate Election Years)

I really don't like presidential election years.

My family doesn't really talk that much about Senate or House elections, but when the Presidency comes around, they're on that like white on rice. It gets a bit bothersome, especially since my dad loves to talk and try to convince everyone else that he's right about everything, while my mom stands by and just sort of lets people do whatever they want. I'm guessing they have never really had a political argument, if only because Mom sees it as a waste of time.

Now's the time of year that Dad appends a few political notes to all his phone calls to me, telling me I better not vote for the dirty liberal atheist Democrats, or else I'm going to be screwing over the country and we're all going to Hell or something. This is sort of exaggerated, but not by much, because dear Dad, for all his awesome qualities, believes that if we so much as sniff at compromise on social issues, we're horribly betraying society, God, and everything else. It got me thinking about how weird conservative priorities are.

I never hear evangelical folk talking about poverty in America. I'm sure they do once in a while, but I never hear one word of it. I never hear about the evils of corporate scandal, corrupt politicians, and environmental destruction. No comments about feeding the hungry, helping the disabled, or making medical care more accessible in any possible way.

I hear about the following topics: abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.

What the hell is wrong with evangelical culture these days? It's like they are centering every possible bit of effort they could ever have, on something that Jesus really doesn't seem to consider a priority in all of the Bible's lesson. The fact that my dad says not to vote for Obama because he favors abortion, strikes me as incredibly short-sighted.

I'm not disclosing who I'm voting for. As far as I'm concerned, both candidates suck, and since I'm in a hardcore Blue state and came from a hardcore Red state, my vote for the presidency has never mattered one whit. Still, the point being, you should never vote for a candidate based solely on one issue, no matter how emotional it may be, unless the issue is "should we blow up the Earth" or something. If the issue is at all controversial, in any significant way, it should not be the only reason you're voting against someone.

I don't care whether you do or don't think abortion is okay; it should not be the reason you're voting for a candidate, as a Christian. If a candidate were to have a proven-to-work, revolutionary program to raise families out of poverty, provide cheap and nutritious food, and promote inexpensive medical care without pissing off hard workers who want to keep their money, but he endorsed legalized abortion, is it really sensible to reject him on those grounds?

In a non-ideal world, we have to work with necessary evils. Even if you think abortion is evil, it is just one more ticker on the scale. Think about it this way: if God says that all sin is sin, and you can't just rank sin and say, "oh, I'll commit some little sins, they don't matter, as long as I'm better than the guy over there cheating on his wife," then we should realize that abortion is no greater a sin than anything else. Sin is sin. If your candidate turns away the poor and sick, isn't that just as great a sin as endorsing gay marriage would be? If your candidate spurns and wastes God's Earth like the Prodigal Son spent all his fortune, isn't that just as great a sin as promoting legal abortion? 

Let's not even get into the arguments of how many times various sins are mentioned in the Bible, and if they are even sins at all, and so forth. In the end, just look at the person in question, and ask yourself, how sinful overall is this regime going to be? Stack the good points on one side and the sins on the other. Make sure to count all the sins, not just anything related to people's genitalia. Despite what many evangelicals want you to think, who you sleep with, when, and in what fashion, are not the only topics for sin. Count all of them: greed, lies, cheating, taking bribes, depriving the poor of aid, fearmongering, selfishness...

Now choose, with open eyes. If you still end up choosing the original candidate you were voting for, that's fine. No one cares if you started out hardcore Romney, looked at both sides, and still said Romney was the right answer. Same for Obama. But at least make a real decision, not one based on the idea that sexuality is the only possible metric for sin.


Ariel said...

I was reading a piece in the NYTimes earlier today; an odd little advice column on LGBT issues, aimed at boomers. (Who knew there was a market for that sort of thing in a major newspaper?) The person asking for advice had expressed his support for Romney on facebook, a bunch of his gay friends and younger friends started defriending him for being anti-gay, and he didn't get it at all because he disagreed with Romney's social policies but thought that the country needed his fiscal policies. The columnist said, heavily paraphrased, that to get a better sense of the visceral response he was seeing, he should imagine what *his* response would be to a candidate who was great om fiscal policies, but supported slavery.

And that one completely threw me. I've historically been in the camp you describe-- there are issues of more or less importance, but you need to weigh the whole candidate and see which would, overall, be less evil. But I'm not sure, anymore, whether there *should* be make or break issues, like that. I mean... if someone showed up with perfect fiscal policies and made the trains run on time and just wanted to get rid of all the Jews... that seems like there's no possible way that other good policies could *ever* counterbalance the evil. And, to be fair, if you *really* think abortion is mass murder, then treating it as a make-or-break issue actually does make sense.

(Not, mind you, that I think most people who say abortion is mass murder show signs of believing that. But that's a different matter.)

I'm not entirely sure I'm comfortable thinking abortion *should* be a trump issue, let alone concluding that it would, rationally, be a trump issue for one side more than the other. But it's possible that it might be.
(Contraception and gay marriage, on the other hand, there is really zero excuse. I *still* don't grok the problems with those in the first place, and they're not killing anyone...)

Alcor said...

I guess that's why I added the caveat of, "unless one candidate wants to blow up the world or something." If genocide is on the table, sure, he can be a paragon of wonder and I still won't vote for him.