Letters to the Editor: Oct. 19
Dismissive tone what is wrong with American politics
I was disappointed by the recent Op-Ed by Connor Sterchi. As a staunch conservative, even I was offended by the condescending tone that he used in dismissing Democrats. He gave little thought to their positions but dismissed them out of hand. This dismissive tone is what is wrong with politics in America today. We are unwilling to have quality discussions about important issues, but instead resort to grandstanding and denigrating our opponents. I know many Democrats who are strong Christians, and many atheistic Republicans. Voting for Obama does not make one unchristian, just as voting for Romney does not make one a good Christian. Democrats make very good points when it comes to caring for the poor and the responsibility of the rich to give back to society. We need to closely examine these social issues in balance with other prominent political issues. Yes, it is very important to have our Christian faith influence how we vote, but it should also expand our political perspective and clarify our thoughts on leadership.
Jonathon Vandezande, ‘13
Inappropriate use of scripture in article
If I may, I would like to make to make a comment about the article published last Friday titled, “Biblical perspectives for campaign 2012.” I would argue that this article has two important flaws: 1) its intent to be divisive and 2) its inappropriate use of scripture.
It is clear that the author wanted to challenge readers, but instead chose words that cause division among God’s people. America is not a country of Christians, but a country of men and women from all religious and ethnic walks of life. Language that causes division and bitterness is considered by Thomas Aquinas to be “sinful” (Summa Theologia).
However, the most disturbing part of this article is its inappropriate use of scripture. In the section regarding homosexual marriage, the author fails to provide accurate exegesis of the passage. Jesus is not affirming traditional marriage, nor refuting the practice of homosexuality. In a broader context, Jesus is actually cracking down on the heterosexual by saying it is better not to marry if sexual temptation is too great (Matthew 19:9-11).
Scripture is God’s word made flesh in Jesus Christ. In future political writings, I would ask the Calvin community to make sure that they pray, reflect and study the passage of scripture that they wish to use in future articles. As a religion major and member of the Calvin community, I believe it is important to stand by and maintain the sanctity of Scripture by not allowing it to be used in political game of “Rockem Sockem Robots.”
Casey Carbone, ‘14
Political issues should be labelled as such
In offering his “Biblical perspectives on campaign 2012,” Connor Sterchi states, “This is not a political issue.” Sterchi has previously written strongly-worded, anti-Obama, pro-Limbaugh opinion pieces for Chimes. His bias is clear and well-documented (one of the perils of regular publication). In the future, when offering an outright endorsement of a candidate from his preferred party, I would encourage him not to distract his readers with a similar “disclaimer.”
Dennis Holtrop, ‘90
Spectrum of relevant issues exists
While I agreed with some of Connor Sterchi’s critiques of both parties, I was personally appalled by the apparent political and spiritual arrogance advocated during his recent article (“The Christian way to vote obvious from parties’ platforms”). To claim that “the Christian way to vote [is] obvious” simplifies issues, ignores evidence and encourages close-mindedness. There are plenty of strong Christians on both sides of the aisle with differing opinions and convictions that come out of the same Holy Bible. While I happen to agree with Connor on many issues, I cannot support his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of Christian Democrats. (As a side note, I realize that headlines often come from the editors and do not come verbatim from the authors, but in this case the headline accurately reflects the views in the article itself).
I was particularly offended by the quotes from Pastor John MacArthur that called the Democratic Party the “anti-God party” that made “the sins of Romans 1 their agenda.” While questions of marriage and pro-life issues are extremely important, those issues do not comprise the entire spectrum of political issues that Christians should care about and do not exist in a vacuum. Christians cannot ignore foreign policy, environmental stewardship, economic justice and other important issues that also stem from biblical principles. As Connor writes, each party has an imperfect platform, but he then claims that only the mistakes of the Democratic Party “flagrantly flout biblical principles.” Again, while I may agree with him on many issues, there are plenty of solid Christians who would convincingly argue that some Republican Party principles go against the teachings of the Bible.
My point here is not to get into a proof-text battle over specific political issues. I merely hope that Connor and other concerned Christians on both sides of the political spectrum can respect each other and recognize the validity of Christian opinions that may differ from their own. Neither party has a monopoly on biblical support for any issue, let alone for their entire platform. Only if we engage in thoughtful, respectful discussions about all the issues from a biblical worldview can we make truly informed decisions about voting this November.
Caleb Lagerwey, ‘13
Christ neither Democrat nor Republican
The upcoming presidential election is largely inconsequential as far as these things go. The choice between Obama and Romney in 2012 is not one that involves the formation of the government (1800), threat of civil war (1860), or a massive economic crisis (1932).
Understanding that as I do, I was startled to see last week’s opinion column “The Christian way to vote obvious from parties’ platforms.” In it, the author asserts that not only is 2012 a line in the sand in the way of determining the moral future of the United States, but that the Republican Party is the only ticket good Christians should vote for. (Also, Sterchi seems to think the founding fathers were devoted orthodox Christians, but that isn’t even a comment worth addressing.)
I am a committed Christian. I am also a registered Republican. By Sterchi’s account, I am living out my faith admirably by voting the way I do.
Do I wish Sterchi was right? Yes. But he isn’t.
Being Reformed Christians means that we understand that we have an obligation to engage in the world with an eye for its redemption — both for popular culture and the political arena. We also know that scripture lays out some basic guidelines for us to follow, commanding us to “do justice and love mercy.”
However, what the Bible doesn’t provide is a set of party platforms we should and should not agree with. “Do justice, love mercy, and vote Republican?” Hardly.
The fact of the matter is that though the Bible provides us with examples and goals for Christian living within the larger community, everyone interprets the commandment to “do justice” differently. Democrats understand it one way, Republicans another, Libertarians yet another and so on and so forth.
Exegetically speaking, we shouldn’t try to impose a literalist 21st-century understanding of political partisanship on a text that was written and compiled during a very different era in human history for a very different purpose. First century Roman Judea was somewhat different than modern Grand Rapids. (It was slightly less Dutch, I’m told.)
Christ was not a Democrat, but he wasn’t a Republican, either. In his redemptive work on the cross, he gave us a responsibility to culture and the world, but the ways in which American Christians choose to fulfill that responsibility is, and should continue to be, varied.
Rachel Hekman, ‘14