Sunday, March 6, 2016

Why, as a Christian, I am voting for Bernie Sanders

I have been asked to give a defense of myself because of my political opinions. I have been accused of being too sensitive to critique, being afraid of judgement, for associating with sinners, for grumbling, for being ungrateful, for not having the worldview of a Christian and of building my identity based on what others think of me.

None of these things will I defend, because you can't verbally prove that your character isn't what a person who wants to assassinate your character, claims it is. The only way to prove that, is to live. And while I am not a perfect person, I do believe that my actions have lined up with who I say I am - a person who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. And I am fully prepared to stand in front of HIS judgment seat and give a full account. Because I know that to the things I have done wrong, he will say "I have paid for this already with my own body and my own blood," and the rest - the things I have done right - I will hear: "well done, good and faithful servant."
So, moving on from defending myself in that way, I will tell you what I see in Bernie Sanders that makes me see Jesus.

I keep hearing about "a socialist utopia." I am not championing that at all. And neither is Senator Sanders. Let us just tear that phrase apart to analyze it for a minute. Sanders is not proposing a "socialist" government at all. That word is pretty sticky - which is why it has been thrown at him and has stuck. While he does advocate expanding some social programs (and in that sense he can certainly be described as socialistic,) he DOES NOT want to tear down our democracy! People are afraid, because we have seen in history how a socialistic government has turned into a dictatorship and led to "state capitalism" rather than capitalism for the people. 
However, in our country, a form of this "state capitalism" is already occurring, only it isn't the state, per say, it is the large corporations, Wall Street, and the Fed that are "pooling their resources" to create, not a democracy of the people, but in essence, an oligarchy. It is an unbalanced system that takes away freedoms of the masses and puts money in control of just the few.
Sanders simply wants to allocate our money in a way that does the MOST for the MOST. He is not going to steal your money and go buy a bunch of people trips to Disney World and vacation yachts. But I believe that he does want to make sure that people who have enough power to be able hide their funds in off shore accounts and tax shelters to avoid paying taxes, will be held to account. He wants to hold Wall Street to account. He wants to hold the Fed to account.  He wants to put the power back in the hands of the people by making sure that people who don't have healthcare can get taken care of and so that people who don't have access to education, can be educated. 

I have experience in the healthcare issue, because I would be dead right now if it were not for the United States government. Let me restate that: I would be DEAD. Lucky for me, the government footed the entire bill for my breast cancer. If they had not, I would not have even begun to be able to afford my care. I am blessed that in Tennessee, if a woman gets breast or ovarian cancer, she can qualify for government aid. I spent some time feeling SO grateful that I had breast cancer instead of brain cancer. Or lung cancer. Or uterine cancer. Or any other awful disease that required hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat. My heart bleeds for those who have to go down that road, feeling as if their life isn't worthy enough to their country, to save. 

Will Bernie's system work? I have no idea. There is so much evil everywhere, that even the most honorable intentions can be bent. But I believe that it is better to risk things because of love and the right thing to do, rather than hold to a system that is known to be wrong and unfair just because we have gotten comfortable there.

Next, let's look at the word "utopia." As a Christian, I do believe that utopia will happen, but only when Christ comes back to rule; because I have not ever seen a politician or a religious leader nor anyone else that has a perfect system. There is NOT a perfect system on earth. BUT that does NOT mean that we can just close our eyes, bury our money and possessions under our feet and continue to claim that since we worked hard, what we got,  we get to keep, even IF there are people in need. I mean, it is the needy's own fault right? And we did everything right.

This brings me back to who Christ is and what he says. 
"If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
Give to him who asks you and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you..... For He causes His sun to rise on the evil AND the good, and send rain on the righteous and the unrighteousness." Matthew 5:40-45

   One of the arguments that I have heard from Christians is that they don't want to be forced to give. They would like to allocate their money where they think it will do the most good. I completely understand that. One hundred percent. When I earn money and want to help someone with it, I want to know that it is doing what I intended. I also have skin in the game. However, Jesus doesn't say that here. In fact, he says quite the opposite. If you go on in this passage, he says "when you give to poor, do not sound a trumpet before you.....but when you give, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." (Matt. 6:2,3)

For many years, I thought this just meant not to brag about your generosity. And I am sure that this is part of it. However, like most of His words, they go much deeper than that. I believe he saying that we can't control our giving based on what we think and our own judgments. We give with one hand - and it isn't for our other hand to decide what is done with the gift once it has left our hands. At that point, God is in control. Give when you want, give when you don't want, give when you are forced. And don't try to control it. It is up to God, simple as that.

I want to look at just one more passage. This is the story that Jesus tells to explain the kingdom of heaven. But, like all of His stories, there are so many layers.

It begins with a land owner searching for workers to hire. He finds a few in the morning and offers them a day's wages. They agree and set to work.
Mid morning, he finds that he needs more workers, so he rounds up some more who are willing and they also agree to work for a day's wage. This happens again later in the day, and then even later in the day, still. All are offered the same wage regardless of how long they worked.
At the end of the work day when the wages are given, the workers who had been there longer, grumble and complain because they feel that the others should be owed less since they didn't work as long.
The field owner says, "Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a day's wages?
Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give this last man the same as you."

Now, this story is given to explain that you can live "righteously" your entire life or you can live "in sin" your entire life, but the moment you decide you want to identify with the person who paid for you - then you are paid for. That is IT. No one gets a better reward or gets into a more heavenly kingdom. We are all on the same playing field when it comes to the Creator and Redeemer of the Universe.

How does this apply to Bernie Sanders you ask? Simply this: the grumbling that I have heard coming from people who claim Jesus as their own about giving up money that they work hard for and earned (which, I am sure is true!) has been truly concerning to me. If we believe that God gave us money because we worked hard, how can we not trust him to give us enough when we have to give what we earned away?

Let me be clear in saying that I do NOT believe that Bernie Sanders wants to take away all of our hard earned money. But using many people's argument that they earned and so should keep - and then basing that on Jesus - is quite as offensive to me as the thought that you may have about losing your wealth.

I have also been accused of aiding the murder of babies. I don't really want to get into a discussion of abortion, as my friends and family ALL know that I hold life in the HIGHEST of regard. I have said it and said it and said it. I am pro- life.

When it comes to choosing a politician who supports life, I have to acknowledge that there is death all around. And there is lack of support of life ALL AROUND. Therefore, with careful consideration, I have, at this point and for these next four years, chosen to throw my hat in the ring with someone who does not see eye to eye with me on the life of an unborn child. This does make me sad in that I have first hand experience with life growing in my body - several times over. I have seen perfectly formed humans the size of my thumb. I believe that once those cells begin dividing, it is something other than what it was - life, right from the start. Just as I know that, oppositely, when unhealthy cells start dividing it is cancer right from the start. 

But I also know that there are people who are alive and walking around and breathing air and taking care of families who have had politicians swear that they will kill them because their family members may attack us. I have heard politicians promise to torture human beings. I have heard politicians, in their desire to make sure we are comfy, deny the rights of immigration to a place that may have better opportunities. They are denying the rights of people to be treated for deathly illnesses. They are marginalizing the rights and equality of those who don't fit their chosen demographic. And I feel that it is time to choose to stand up for these other groups of people who also do not have a voice. I wish that we could stand up for all life, all at once. But these are the days and hands we have been dealt. 

I feel as though I could go on, but I will step off the stage.

This all comes down to one thing. My conscience is clear. 
I have done my research.
You do yours.

I will not question anyone's character for the way you wish to vote this election season. The season is volatile and lends itself to passionate discourse. And I do hope that it doesn't create enemies as times like this are wont to do.  

I am also asking that you would refrain from negative comments about me or anyone else personally if you feel the need to challenge. I may not answer you back because I have said what I need to say and I am not up for a debate. But as I have said, you may hold a different opinion than mine, and I am fine with that.

We all do what we can. And we are even in the eyes of God because he already evened the field for each one of us.

Thank you for reading with an open mind and heart.

"Render the things that are Caesar's to Caesar and render the things that are God's to God." ~Jesus Christ, Matthew 21:22


Mochamomof4 said...

Thank you Amanda,
This piece was very well written.
I am sorry about the illness that tried to take your life BUT God had a different plan for your life.
Thank you for sharing your opinion.

Amanda Conley said...

Thank you, Jaminthia! I am very glad He had a different plan for me as well. :)