Monthly Archives: February 2017

Faith-based values

I am a Christian. My social values are 100% faith-based.

I believe, based on my understanding of the gospel of Jesus, that God made us in God’s own image, “male and female,” as it says in Genesis 1:27. Not male or female. In other words, gender is not a binary; it’s a multifaceted gift. It’s related in intriguing, complex, nonprescriptive ways to biological sex. Masculinity and femininity and other gender identities are not mutually-exclusive opposites but complementary blessings. And some unique mix of them is found in any given person.

I believe the sacramental commitment of marriage represents Christ’s fidelity to the church. I believe it should be available on equal terms to all who intend it as a lifelong union of body and spirit.

I believe, based on my understanding of the gospel, that abortion is a complex and never trivial decision, and that there are nevertheless times where it is the best and most faithful choice. I believe women and those they trust are best equipped to make those decisions. I believe if abortion is sometimes the most faithful option, then it needs to be available.

I don’t believe it’s appropriate to use government to mandate moral choices for a pluralistic society. I do think it’s appropriate for government to protect people in the minority from having their ability to live how they want, without harming others, taken away.

I can respect people who genuinely believe, based on their understanding of their faith, that abortion is never a faithful choice; or that you can’t be a Christian and have a nontraditional gender identity or be in a non-heterosexual relationship. I do strongly disagree with them. If you’re one of these folks, I hope you’ll respect me, but much more importantly, I hope you’ll respect my friends whose actions or identity you disapprove of. If you want to try to convince them that your viewpoint is right, please try to do it with your words and the example of your life rather than coercing them to act against their own consciences by means of the law.

I believe, based on the gospel of Jesus, that we have a duty to care for the poor and vulnerable. That’s non-negotiable for Christians, no matter what economic ideology you think will best achieve that (see Matthew 25).

I think—as a matter of practical methods, not as a gospel mandate—that it’s appropriate for citizens to act collectively through government to try to make life better for everyone. That means not just roads and armies but things like health care, housing, education, and some appropriate degree of income redistribution. I don’t think it’s good for people’s souls to be thousands or millions of times more wealthy than their neighbors. And I don’t believe raw dollars are the only motivation for people to work hard and achieve wonderful things. That’s why I basically tend to favor things like social welfare, well-regulated free markets, and a fairly high personal income tax rate on the top end. Those are personal opinions about what works, not gospel beliefs. I’m not an expert in economics, and I’m willing to be corrected if libertarians, anarchists, communists, or unfettered robber-baron capitalists can show good solid evidence that their way works better for everyone and in particular for those who are poorest.

But as a gospel value, I believe that Christians have a duty to care for the poor and vulnerable, whether the government does or doesn’t.

All these values are completely faith-based. I’ll happily debate them respectfully, based on scripture and Christian tradition, with anyone who wants to. Progressive Christianity isn’t watered-down Christianity–it’s radical Christianity. Secular humanists don’t have a monopoly on these values, although they are good allies on many of them, and many of them are my dear friends and family. And socially conservative Christians don’t have a monopoly on the gospel, although I rejoice in our shared love of Jesus, and many of them are my dear friends and family.