Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Confessions of a GOP-Attracted Christian.

Election Day 2004

I'll be honest. Young Stephen never saw this coming.

The party conventions are right around the corner, and I still haven't decided who I'll be voting for in this year's Presidential election. I'm still trying to decide whether I should vote at all, although I'm pretty sure that I will. I do know, without a single cloud of doubt in my mind, that I will not be voting for Mr. Donald J. Trump. This was not a political decision for me, but rather, an inescapably moral one.

For most of my life, I've viewed the Republican Party as the best political representation of my beliefs and values. In the 10 years that I've been able to vote, I have consistently voted for Republican candidates, at all levels of government, and in my younger years, I even campaigned for a few of them. Even if I wouldn't have said so out loud, I believed this was my duty as a good Christian and patriotic American. Although I have a great deal of appreciation and respect for President Obama (respect that has actually grown over the last 8 years), I didn't vote for him in either election. It never even crossed my mind. I've often had significant disagreements and differences with Republicans (as will always be the case with any party), and as the GOP has become more and more characterized in recent years by the voices of anger and the politics of fear, my misgivings have only deepened. However, with each passing election, I have decided again and again that the Republican candidate--despite those misgivings--was a better option for my vote than his or her rival.

This is no longer the case. 

I can go no further. I will not be voting for the Republican nominee this November, and neither will I be voting for any Republican candidate (now or in the future) who decides that party loyalty, political opportunism, or even mere self-preservation are more important than doing what is right. If saving the Republican party means uniting behind a vulgar, self-obsessed, misogynistic, dishonest, unkind, unstable, fear-mongering demagogue like Donald Trump, I do not believe the Republican party is worth saving.

So am I switching my affiliation? If so, to which party? There are many faithful Christians whom I love and respect who belong to the Republican party...and there are many who belong to the Democratic party. There are also many who don't belong to any party. If I'm not voting for Trump, who will I vote for? Or will I even vote at all? There are many faithful Christians whom I love and respect who will vote for Hillary, many who will vote for Trump, many who will vote for a 3rd-party candidate, and many who will abstain from voting this year altogether. Again, beyond not voting for Trump, right now I just don't know. And either way, I'm pretty sure I won't be sharing my decision publicly.

Here's what I do know.

I am unabashedly pro-life. While I do believe that all lives matter, I am particularly concerned about those lives which tend to be the most marginalized, the most maligned, and/or the least protected.

Unborn lives matter. Women's lives matter. Black lives matter. Undocumented immigrant lives matter. Documented immigrant lives matter. Refugee lives matter. Veteran lives matter. Mentally-ill lives matter. Physically-disabled and cognitively-impaired lives matter. Muslim lives matter. Native-American lives matter. Unemployed and underemployed lives matter. Convicted felon lives matter. LGBTQ lives matter. The list could go on.

The point is that, yes, all lives do matter...but some lives have had to fight harder to matter in America than other lives. As a Christian who is pro-life, I am far less concerned about which political party is in power, and I am far more concerned about electing leaders who are committed to ensuring that all lives--not just the wealthy, powerful, educated, visible, or majority-culture lives--are treated justly, given the opportunity to flourish, and viewed with the same dignity and sanctity and worth by the United States...the same dignity, sanctity, and worth that are inherent to all image-bearers of God. I may be wary of "big government," but I'm equally wary of "big business." Power and Profits are both poor masters, and great evil has been perpetrated by each. As concerned as I am by the Right's politics of fear and anger, I am also concerned by the Left's tendency to silence and marginalize voices that they don't like. Racism and police brutality are great evils in our society, and so is abortion-on-demand. As a Christian who is pro-life, I am uncomfortable identifying myself with either major party. Both Republicans and Democrats, it seems, tend to value certain lives more than others. 

I am a Christian. I follow Christ, who was more conservative than the Conservatives and more progressive than the Progressives, who defied all human political categorization. My allegiance is not to the Republican Party. My allegiance is not to the Democratic Party...or any other party. My allegiance is to God, the giver and sustainer of all life.

I am unabashedly pro-life.

I will vote accordingly.