I’m About to Make You Mad

I got to thinking while I was cleaning the bathrooms on Saturday morning. There’s nothing else to do, really, than inhale the fumes and think while you’re scrubbing. I was thinking about politics and religion and the Affordable Care Act and food stamps and Facebook and welfare and all that jazz.

“These are all slightly but barely related, Carolyn. Get to the point.” Ok, fine.

I’ll admit that I tend to be a left-leaning moderate. In one of those political surveys I took once, it categorized me as a bleeding heart, radical moderate. There are things I believe in, and I really believe in them, but they aren’t necessarily all liberal tenets.

Anyway, while I was cleaning the toilets I thought about how everyone’s complaining about the Affordable Care Act (more lovingly known to conservatives as Obamacare). “My premiums are going up!” “I’m paying for services I’m not going to use!” Etc. Etc. Dave Ramsey, everyone’s favorite common sense financial guy, even made a video about how you should think for yourselves, and then promptly told viewers what to think since “the math doesn’t add up!”

This led me to think about how it seems like conservatives take this theme even broader. “All those mooches out there are living off my hard-earned money.” “Everyone on welfare is working the system.” “Food stamps and unemployment are enabling the poor to never work for themselves.”

Meanwhile, those conservatives who also identify as Christian, go to church every Sunday to learn about how generous Jesus was with his blessings, how he helped people of all social stations (though mostly the poor), etc. I’ve been to church, and I’m fairly certain the Bible lessons haven’t changed since then.

Do you remember learning the parable of the widow’s mite in Bible study as a kid? Jesus tells a story about a poor woman who gives all she has to God, and how it means more than when the wealthy give a smaller proportion of their wealth. It seems like stories such as this one are conveniently lost on conservative Christians (except maybe for during the Christmas season when we are selflessly generous). Yes, I realize she was giving to God and not other people.

This seems to be an overall theme with conservative Christians as well, in my observation — picking and choosing parts of the Bible that suit you best and deciding the others aren’t really applicable. Similarly, we can’t say there’s a separation of church and state, and then decide which parts of the church and state are separated. “We don’t want gay people to get married because the Bible says so. But we’ll cut food stamps, 76% of which go to households with children, elderly, or individuals with disabilities because Congress isn’t run by the Bible.”

Now, I’m not a Biblical scholar, so correct me if I’m wrong, but last time I read the Bible in full (which, I’ll admit, was all the way back in college) Jesus wasn’t really concerned about his stockpile of miracles, how much he had left, or how hard he’d worked to earn those miracles before he divvied them out. He took what little he had and fed thousands of people — not really caring that they weren’t really doing their fair share in the food buying and prep.

Also, last time I checked, a lot of people (Jesus included) inherited their gift-giving abilities. In other words, not a lot of people start from the bottom, pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps, and earn tons of money that greedy, lazy good-for-nothings are all out to steal. This is partially because “the system” in America doesn’t allow for it like we think it does. Inequality is sourced all the way down to the education system — which, as you can probably assume, is much better in wealthier neighborhoods.

Don’t think you didn’t earn every bit of where you are in life? You don’t have to have a huge inheritance or trust fund to be at an economic advantage. If your parents paid for any part of your education, you’re at an economic advantage. If your parents bought or helped buy you a car (you know, to get to your first job at 16), you’re at an economic advantage. If you’re a white male, you’re at an economic advantage (thanks for that, dad). If you were raised in a stable home, never put in foster care, never heard your parents lament about their poverty, had a meal every night, were never abused in any way, you’re already at an economic advantage.

Also, doesn’t the concept of hell cover the “punishment” these supposedly greedy people deserve? If someone is a sinner, a liar, a thief, won’t God go through their lists of sin with them when they get to the pearly gates and then banish them to hell for misusing you? I’m not saying we should all be doormats for bad people to walk all over. However, the concept of hell is satisfying because we’re comforted by the notion that justice in this life may not be fair or fall in our favor, but it will definitely be served in the next.

This whole rant is not to say that the Affordable Care Act is right or fair or whatever else people want it to be. I’m not saying that the federal budget will be better off in any way, that the math “adds up,” or that we should just go spend our nation’s money all willy nilly because we’re all bleeding hearts and want to save everyone, everything, everywhere.

It just seems to me that being a conservative AND a Christian should mean that complaining about how people are stealing your money (which, honestly, the majority of people aren’t) to make sure they have basic health services and food goes against what is being taught and preached to and by conservative Christians.

A friend of mine on Facebook posted this. I’ll leave his name out since he probably doesn’t want to be associated with this rant, but I thought it had a bunch of great, valid points.

So, before I begin, I will let it be known exactly where I stand on the political spectrum so that no assumptions will have to be made. I am a true neo-conservative; I believe strongly in maintaining the traditions and building blocks that continue to make this country great: Family (in whatever form it may take), Freedom (consistent with all peoples), and Morality (regardless of belief, yet reflected in the mission of equality and the debt of Grace given freely by our Creator.) …

We are called to be stewards of God’s grace. We are called to sacrifice comfort and freedom for the betterment of the Kingdom. If I must pay more for healthcare so that children in poverty can be given coverage, then that is what must be done. Sure, I can whine and moan about “lost freedom” but salvation that is the gift we are given is not for us to squander on personal gain and accomplishment. We are called to give more of ourselves if that means lifting someone else into the light.

Do you think Jesus would mind higher premiums for the tax collectors and the Pharisees if it meant the leper could receive the treatment they need without being buried in debt? We are called to be servants not slavers. And if we do not live vehemently to remove the social systems that enslave our fellow brothers and sisters, we are not being the people we are called to be.

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