thirty biblical reasons to vote democratic in 2020: #15 Qualifications for a King

Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. — Nehemiah 9:34 (ESV)

This is going to be a Sunday School lesson, so hang on…or you can skip to the last paragraph  here.

In Deuteronomy 17:14-20 God lays out the qualifications for a king:

  1. the king must be an Israelite,
  2. the king must not acquire too many horses,
  3. the king must not take too many wives,
  4. the king must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold,
  5. the king must keep a copy of the Torah with him to be read throughout his life, so he would rule according to God’s laws and principles.

To us moderns, these seem obscure and antiquated and a bit quaint, but hold on and let’s think about them.

photo by William Krause from unsplash.com

First, the king is to be one of the people, not a foreigner who might hold interests from somewhere else above the people’s interests. He is to be completely in service to and beholden to the people.

Second, the king is not to acquire too many horses. Horses in that time came from Egypt, and the Israelites were not to go back to trade with the Egyptians. God had delivered them from Egypt and going back might tempt them to trade with the Egyptians and/or tempt them to long for their old lives. In addition, too many horses would set the king above the common people.

Third, he is not to have too many wives. It was common for kings to take wives of foreign countries to cement peace between nations, but many wives from foreign countries would influence the king in negative ways and negate loyalty to his own country. (Not to mention the distraction!)

Fourth, the king is not to accumulate too much gold and silver. Money. The root of all evil. A wealthy king would not be dependent on God, but on his own resources; and that wealth could lead the king down the wrong path of arrogance and self-importance.

Fifth, the king must keep that Torah close to him at all times so he would rule according to God’s principles, and so he would know the law. For how can a king rule justly and wisely if he does not know the law?

When the Israelites asked for a king like the other nations had, they got Saul (1 Samuel 8). He ruled them capriciously and by his own desires. He was not prepared to rule and suffered from mental illness. By contrast, the king after God’s own heart was David. He was not perfect, and he had sins and troubles a-plenty, but he loved God and was faithful. David was the imperfect human king who points us to the perfect king Jesus.

Here on earth we can’t expect to have a perfect king (and perhaps we got the one we deserved) but even looking at a few of those requirements Trump fails… He has had three wives and two of them have been foreign-born; he has too much wealth and it has gotten him into trouble. In fact, he has spent millions of his own dollars buying his way into the presidency.

And he does not know the law…

Encouraging a foreign head of state to investigate his political rival?

Refusal to produce witnesses or papers when subpoenaed?

Using the Justice Department to fight his own legal battles?

Encouraging election interference by a foreign country?

Attacks on the integrity of the voting system? Encouraging voters to vote twice?

Firing heads of independent agencies because they are investigating him?

Holding the Republican National Convention at the White House?

Insisting he is above the law?

In 2016 I downloaded the song Christ for President by Woody Guthrie recorded by Billy Bragg and Wilco. Lately, I’ve been humming it again. You can listen to it here. But since we can’t have Christ for President in this imperfect world, what kind of president do you want?

Let me repeat: For how can a king rule justly and wisely if he does not know the law?

quote by Albert Mohler, downloaded from Squarequotes.church

 

thirty biblical reasons to vote democratic in 2020: #13 Pro-life?

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.” — Matthew 5:16 (NRSV)

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” — Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV)

Painting by Leah Saulnier, The Painting Maniac

So there’s an elephant here in the room. A reader asked about it a few days ago, and I said I would get to it. So here’s the elephant (an appropriate metaphor for the GOP, yes?)

Most Christians who vote for Trump are voting for him because of one issue: abortion. I have thought long and deep about this issue. My sweet husband would not be here if his 17-year-old-unmarried mother had not chosen, at great personal cost, to give him life and adoptive parents. On the other hand, I did not become a believer until I was in my forties–too late to prevent the abortion I had in my twenties. I know that I am forgiven for that sin, but it still does not wipe away the grief and sadness I feel today for that lost child. I understand the passion of those who are pro-life because I am too.  I used to be a one-issue voter but not any longer. So here are some thoughts*:

    • Abortion has been with us forever. Laws about it will not make it go away. Laws did not keep God’s people in the Old Testament from breaking them. What makes us think that our laws are any different?
    • God’s laws are meant for believers. It is a sin for a believer to have an abortion, yes; but not everyone who lives in this country is a Christian who believes that God has made all life sacred. Can we force our laws and beliefs on them? What this really tells me is that we Christians have failed. God calls us to love people, to tell them about Jesus, and when they accept Him, God gives them a new spirit; they need to believe abortion is killing a child before it becomes a sin to them. It is actually easier for us to say, ‘Let’s make a law against it’ rather than try to witness Christ to them.
    • Pro-life means more than protecting life in the womb. Pro-life means supporting families and not tearing them apart in immigration camps. Pro-life means supporting poor women who simply can’t afford to lose the job they just got and will have to give up because they are pregnant. Pro-life means being pro-people of color who live in the hard section of town. Pro-life means not ending health insurance plans for those who can’t afford it. Pro-life is against the death penalty and assault rifles. Pro-life means being supportive of mental health treatment and addiction programs, and prisoner re-training programs…Dr. Lodovico Balducci, an M.D., writes in his article, “Why I’m pro-life but not pro-Trump”  why pro-life means more than the abortion debate:

Under our American brand of capitalism, human life has become a commercial good that can be disposed of when it ceases to serve the prevailing power. If you doubt that, look at the administration’s willingness to sacrifice the lives of the poor, the front-line workers and the aged during this pandemic to “open up the economy.”

  • Can we overlook all the other “abominations” of this president’s policies and character in favor of one issue?
  • Our founders and writers of the constitution guaranteed us freedom of religion. That means freedom for Christians, freedom for Jews, freedom for Muslims, freedom for Hindus, freedom for atheists… We cannot codify Christian moral laws as the absolute. We can do our best to follow those laws, and we should do our best to witness to others, so they also can live in the freedom of grace and truth that we have. But we cannot legislate Christian laws in a plural society.  Instead of trying to force our Christian values on those who don’t believe (which makes us look like morality police) we should let our lights shine before others, so they can see our good deeds, and our joy, and want what we have… (See Matthew 5:16 above.)
  • As Christians, we are not to judge unbelievers, only our brothers and sisters in Christ. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?1 Corinthians 5:12 (ESV) That’s why we get called hypocrites all the time. If we spent more time loving people into the kingdom instead of judging their behaviors, the world might be knocking down our church doors to get in.

This post is longer than usual, and I hope that if you have even the smallest doubt about casting your vote for the current president — if you are that one-issue voter — then this will encourage you to look into his policies more closely. Stephanie Krider resigned her post as Executive Director of Ohio Right to Life because she could not support his reelection. She said, ” I can’t look at any of his behavior and see evidence of the Holy Spirit in his life. Nothing about his words or actions are kind or gentle or faithful or full of self-control.”

We aren’t to judge his actions by the same standards as ours because he obviously is not a believer. But we can sure as heck vote him out of office…

*These are my thoughts, and if you’ve read this far, I hope you can tell that I’ve struggled with this issue, and what I’ve written down is my humble attempt to get readers to think about it too. Just today I heard Republican pro-life former governor John Kasich say that he is voting for Joe Biden because at this moment in time we have to be Americans first. That Joe Biden is reasonable. He listens. He is good at reaching out to everyone. He just might be a peacemaker. And this country needs that now more than anything.

thirty biblical reasons to vote democratic in 2020: #10 Oppression of the poor

Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the foreigner, or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.” –Zechariah 7:10 (NIV)

This is a two part verse, so let’s look at oppression first. Zechariah speaks of four specific members of the population who are weak, and should be treated tenderly: widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor.

Widows were particularly vulnerable in ancient mideastern society, and throughout the Bible there is concern for caring for them. Widows in modern America are not universally poor, but many are. So let’s look at the president’s payroll tax cut which was an Executive Order in August. He calls it an aid to those who are struggling during the pandemic, but really it only applies to those who are working. And the bottom line is that the payroll tax funds Social Security and Medicare, which almost every widow I know depends on. In 2016, he ran on the promise that he would not change Social Security. Yet just a few days ago, he said that if he wins in November, he will make that payroll tax go away. It’s a complicated issue; if you want to read more try this article from Forbes.

During the current president’s administration, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps) and Medicaid will be cut 1.2 trillion dollars over the next ten years, and the eligibility rules were rewritten to lower the number of people who qualify.  One in five children in the U.S. live in poverty (about 15 million or 21% of all kids), Put another way, the U.S. has the 11th highest child poverty rate of 42 industrialized countries. You can find a wealth of statistics on child poverty in this article in The Nation or the website National Center for Children in Poverty.

And the Wall? To keep immigrants out? This wall to keep immigrants out is estimated to cost 21 to 70 billion dollars. Our country was built on immigrants. Unless you are descended from a Native American, you are descended from an immigrant. Do our immigration laws need to be updated and modernized? Absolutely. Do we build a wall to keep immigrants out? Never. Do we separate children of immigrants from their parents? Never. Do we keep immigrants in holding cells until they can be sent back? Never. Do we send back those who have lived here for years and are valuable to our society? Never. It pains me to even think that I have to write these things…

The second part of this verse — Do not plot evil against each other — seems like a fundamental precept of civilization, doesn’t it?

In simple terms it means don’t stir up trouble. Don’t be an instigator. Don’t foment division. Don’t encourage chaos. Don’t sow hatred.

As I’m writing this on August 31, this week there have been protests in Boston and Washington D.C. There have been riots in Portland and Kenosha. Americans are fighting each other in the streets; rarely has there been this level of political, racial, and economic animosity toward each other. The president has been asked not to travel to Kenosha, but he’s going anyway. Just to stir up trouble. To keep our eyes on the violence, rather than try to heal it.

He has pitted Americans against one another in such an incendiary fashion as to make it almost impossible for us to talk to each other civilly.

Just one more example–he implies that the Democrats will ruin the suburbs by building more low income housing there. Is he talking about housing for the poor? Housing for immigrants? Housing for the fatherless? For widows? Or is this more incendiary talk to plot evil against each other?

We are all God’s children.

Photo from Daily verses

His political vision is division.

And it is causing a crisis in our democracy.