Stand in the Breach…

…So I have just spent the last thirty days writing political posts on a blog that was never supposed to be political.

But these last three years have left me with something that needs to be more than a month-long rant. What unsettles me the most are the reasoned, thoughtful,  pieces that discuss the loss of democracy through authoritarianism. Do you know how it happens? Good people like you and me simply tune out what is happening because: A) We can’t believe it has come to this; B) We simply zone out because of A;  C) We don’t know what we can possibly do against something so BIG; or D) We don’t talk about it because our friends voted for the other party, and we know what discussing politics has done  does to friends and families.

But this is important, friends: It is no longer Politics As Usual. We bury our heads in the sand at our country’s peril. (And believe me, I am a long-time ostrich…) And so I pulled my head out of the sand, blinked in the sunlight, and wrote some things here that might offend, but I have tried to write them in the most reasoned way I could. We do not need to add another screaming voice to this already polarized country.

I was reading my morning scriptures today — I’m in Ezekiel (!) — and I was struggling hard to understand what Chapter 22 was telling me, when I came to verse 30: “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.”

No, it isn’t about building a wall. (Please read this post, if you need to hear my views on walls….) It is about being righteous, standing up for righteousness, for justice, for mercy, for love. Righteousness must be tempered by love, or else we have someone who is a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal; love must be tempered by righteousness or we have wantonness. Justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy on its own without justice makes us doormats. Love & Righteousness, Justice & Mercy–they belong on opposite sides of the same coin; one without the other is an imbalance, a lack of harmony, a breach…

These days the country is certainly imbalanced, harmony is hard to find, and perhaps the breach is miles wide, but what is democracy worth? For my entire lifetime, democracy has not needed to be fought for, and perhaps we have grown soft and complacent, thinking the United States of America was the founding of democracy, and we needn’t worry about it.

  • After all, don’t we have the Constitution?
  • Don’t we have three branches of government that balance each other?
  • Aren’t we all certain of our freedom and our voting rights?
  • Dictators and tyrants and authoritarian rulers are not our allies, are they?

If the events of the last few months have you wondering or worrying about these questions, I suggest that we remember that it  wasn’t so long ago, we needed to fight for democracy. The odd thing about now is that it seems our democracy is deteriorating from within. And we can’t agree about who is doing the crumbling as the walls fall to pieces with people on either side shouting and throwing rocks.

What we need is courageous people to stand in the breach. Courageous people to say  “Stop shouting.” “Stop Tweeting.”  Put down the ugly sign in your hand, turn to the person next to you, and offer it to them.

If the last three years have taught us anything, it is that Donald Trump cannot do that. He is a divider, not a unifier. He thrives on deceit, aspersions, boasting, and bullying… If we have four more years of this division and anger, I fear the democracy we used to pride ourselves on, will be gone.

Will we stand in the breach, or have we gone too soft after years of easy living? Will we offer our hands to those who are different from us? Are we willing to do the hard work of reconciliation or is it just easier to keep shouting and interrupting? Jesus stands in the gap for us, and calls us to do the same. How will you stand?

 

 

 

thirty biblical reasons to vote democratic in 2020: #29 Defilement and Deceit

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person, For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person… — Matthew 15:18-20a (NIV)

And in view of current events, here’s another applicable verse: The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward. –Proverbs 11:18 (ESV)

In Matthew 15, Jesus repeats this verse in several ways–but he is speaking about the purity or cleanliness that the religious leaders and Pharisees professed and contrasting it with the uncleanliness and impurity that comes from deep within everyone (religious leaders included).

from Patheos.com

The same scene is replayed in Mark 7: 20-23, where he elaborates even further, “What comes out of a person’s mouth is what makes them unclean. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  (NIV)

Can I go so far as accusing the president of murder? I’m not sure, but his lack of leadership and lies about the COVID-19 virus/crisis have caused the United States to lead the death rate in the western world. As of September 28th, the U.S. had  209,777 deaths. The rest of those adjectives are evident in his words and his actions…

Christian, can you really vote for a man who embodies these characteristics? He is the antithesis of everything righteous the Bible calls us to be.

Because of the release of the president’s tax returns, I added an additional verse for today because I simply cannot ignore the deceit that this president has lived. Here is the entire article from the New York Times: The President’s Taxes.

And in case you don’t want to read the whole article here are 5 points:

  1. The president paid $750 in taxes in 2016, and again in 2017–the first two years of his presidency. (That is equivalent to what someone who makes $20,000/year would pay. If you aren’t outraged by this, what will it take?)
  2. In 10 of the past 15 years, he paid no taxes at all, mostly because he had such large losses. (Even if he did lose that much money, it goes completely against the way he has portrayed himself as a genius businessman who has a Midas touch.)
  3. He is being audited by the IRS over a $72.9 million tax refund (!) that he claimed 10 years ago.
  4. Within the next four years, more than $300 million in loans — obligations for which he is personally responsible — will come due. (The Times said the president appears to be responsible for $421 million in loans, most of which will come due within four years. On top of that, a $100 million mortgage on Trump Tower in New York will come due in 2022.) I have seen several articles that classify a president who owes that much money as a National Security Risk.
  5. His businesses lose millions. Mr. Trump has claimed $315 million in losses since 2000 on his golf courses, including the Trump National Doral near Miami, which Mr. Trump has portrayed as a crown jewel in his business empire. Some of these above statistics are from this article too: 7 Takeaways from New York Times report on President Trump’s Tax Returns

And for tomorrow–a discussion of righteousness…

thirty biblical reasons to vote democratic in 2020: # 28 Disrespect

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules the people groan.Proverbs 29:2 (NKJ)

The character and moral direction in which the leader takes the country causes the people either to rejoice or mourn.

…the morning after presiding over the signing of Middle East accords, what is President Trump up to? He’s on Twitter, retweeting doctored videos of Joe Biden, name-calling Nancy Pelosi, and undermining Dr. Anthony Fauci. His fundamental disrespect for truth and the dignity of the Office of the President diminishes the work of the U.S. government, and insults the intelligence of the American people. Our leaders must maintain a higher standard. Pay close attention to the warnings from a diverse and growing chorus of normally apolitical voices in our society speaking out. Scientific American, the esteemed science journal, which in its 175-year history has never made a presidential endorsement, joined that chorus yesterday, publicly opposing the president and endorsing Biden. Trump represents a historic threat to our liberty and lives. All Americans should unite against him. —Evan McMullin, The Topline, 9/16/20

No matter what you think of Biden, Pelosi, and Fauci, it is degrading and unpresidential and embarrassing for the president of this country to resort to name calling like a second grade bully.

His disrespect for the Constitution is even greater, proven by his antagonistic comments about voting, the election being rigged, and generally casting aspersions on every voter’s constitutional rights. (Unless one is a felon in Florida…) Not only that, but threatening to not leave office unless there is a fair election (which he has already set up to be not fair by tweeting every day about ballots, the post office, the states…ad nauseam). What country do we live in people????? Is he a dictator who will refuse to accept defeat? He has made us the laughingstock of the world. Our democracy is in peril in this election.