Saturday, September 01, 2012

Skewed Morality

I begrudge no one the right to vote for whichever candidate you choose.  However,  as the U.S. presidential campaign shifts into full gear, I am puzzled beyond explanation how some people indicate they are making their choice based on morality, and that consequently there is only one choice: Mitt Romney.

I recently read an article with the tantalizing title of “Should Christians Vote for A Mormon for President?”  (I do not intend to include the link for this article because it is in many ways a very offensive piece; if you are dying of curiosity, you can find it yourself.)  Now, I had several reactions to this piece. 

My first reaction is that I long for our country to have the mindset that we encountered in France: while there, we were informed in point blank language that NO candidate for president would dream of airing/discussing his/her religion.  It just isn’t done. 

My second reaction was—whatever happened to our understanding of Constitutional history in the U.S.?  Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states:  

The Senators and Representatives …, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.   

Now, to my reading that could NOT be more clear.  THERE IS NO RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENT TO HOLD ANY ELECTED OFFICE IN THIS COUNTRY. 

My third reaction was to read the article and see what the writer concluded.  Surprise, surprise, surprise (as Gomer Pyle would have said).  The writer concludes that three moral issues are paramount:  pro-life (specifically anti-abortion); pro-Biblical marriage (specifically anti-gay marriage); and pro freedom of the church.  I added the parenthetic statements, because the pro-life stance being articulated is focused solely on being against abortion, and the pro-Biblical marriage stance is really aimed only at gays.  As for “freedom of the church,” I don’t know what is meant by that—obviously, we have religious freedom in the U.S., but churches are not free to break the laws of the country.  So, I won’t  address this issue.

So, herewith my fourth reaction.  The first two moral reasons the author articulates are (for me) examples of skewed morality.  Let’s start with the first moral reason—being pro-life.  I object to the term “pro-life”--it is not focused on what happens to a woman who finds herself pregnant under difficult circumstance.  So if you don't care about the woman, you can't be "pro-life."  The current debate that is raging about “legitimate” rape (which has now been amended to “forcible” rape…as if any rape is NOT forcible) has now devolved into statements such as “rape is simply the means of conception, and you shouldn’t punish the resulting child.”  Really?  Rape is just a means of conception?  And that is just the discussion surrounding rape.  What about a woman who learns that the fetus she is carrying has an incurable fatal disease?  A disease such as Tay-Sachs can be detected in utero, and is untreatable, and the eventual child always die prematurely.  Is abortion of such a fetus always wrong?  Usually, the discussion of abortion does not focus on the woman who is already alive and the impact on her of carrying a child conceived through rape to term, or carrying a fatally flawed child.

On the second moral reason, the reason I say that pro-Biblical marriage is only anti-gay marriage is because so-called Biblical marriage means many things.  First, what is Biblical marriage?  Of course, the answer that you get is one-man-one-woman as the automatic response.  But marriage in the Bible presents a vastly more complicated set of options.  The chart below (which comes from http://robertcargill.com/2011/10/11/what-exactly-is-biblical-marriage/) shows a more complicated view of marriage.  So, clearly, marriage has been and is an evolving definition.  Marriage has changed over time, and with cultural influences it will CONTINUE to change.



These are not the only reasons I call the author’s conclusion skewed morality.  If as a voter you want to base your vote on Biblical principles, and you only focus on voting against someone who supports abortion or gay-marriage, I suggest there are some Biblical injunctions you are conveniently overlooking.  Since the operating question is for whom should a Christian vote in this election, it seems reasonable to turn to the teachings of Christ.  One of the most frequently mentioned topics in the New Testament (in fact the entire Bible) is poverty and the poor.  Among  the most ringing indictments in Christ’s ministry are his statements against those who neglect the poor.  So, isn’t it reasonable to look at the two candidates and determine which of them has plans to help the poor?  Or, conversely, which of them has policies that will devastate the poor?

Another Biblical value is the need to tell the truth.  Hey, that requirement even made it into the Ten Commandments.  I grant you—applying that standard becomes far more difficult because we all have varying opinions as to what constitutes the truth.  But one didn't have to listen very long to the convention speech made by Romney's choice as running mate to know that truth was in short supply.

Perhaps I need not continue this analysis.  My primary point is this—while acknowledging that we have the right to choose for whom we vote and for what reasons we make that choice—don’t announce your reasons as being Christian or even moral, when it is apparent that the morality measure you use is highly selective and definitely skewed.

13 comments:

Dog_geek said...

Yep, life is sacred... at least until it needs food, or shelter, or health care. Then, it's all "let them die!"

Liza Lee Miller said...

There was a piece on The Daily Show recently that showed some of the hypocrisy of the Republicans who were stating that they were all for individual rights and keeping government out of private decisions . . . except in the case of abortion and gay marriage . . . of course. It was very frustrating to watch . . . even on a humor show.

KGMom said...

Dog-geek: I share your frustration. Some people who are ardently "pro-life" conveniently forget that child when she needs food, shelter, clothing, or any other assistance.

Liza Lee--I saw the Daily Show piece, with Samantha Bee, right? The people to whom she talked seemed not to see the irony of their position.

Ruth said...

What a difference it would make if all voting Americans thought things through logically like you have done in this post.

Anvilcloud said...

Shallow and muddy thinking or lack of same is the norm these days. KG, you are not normal.

dottieb said...

I have a difficult time during elections, because 2 of my three children and I have very difficult political views. We often have debates, which are good, since I respect their right to have a different opinion, and I am glad they have a mind of their own. When it gets too heated to be of any use to continue, is when I just agree with their right to disagree and move on. Interestingly enough, it is my two boys who vehemently disagree with me and my daughter who is more liberal and has similar opinions to me.
I appreciate your comments and am glad we live in a country where we are free to disagree about our government.

Murr Brewster said...

You never fail to be clear and reasonable and express yourself well. I'm proud to not quite know you. Carry on. The pro-lifers are basically pro-birth. It's interesting to note that most of my political opinions are, I believe, also moral ones.

KGMom said...

Ruth
AC
DottieB
Murr

Thanks for your comments. I don't doubt that there are voters in other countries (e.g. Canada, since some of you live there) who do not necessarily think through issues before they vote. But I do agree that the U.S. has now, for many reasons, too many uninformed voters. Part of the reason of course is BIG money and how much it can skew issues. We throw obscene amounts of money at campaigns, and when efforts are made to revise campaign financing, those laws get struck down. In their place, we end up with Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens' United. I have no doubt that some future court will overturn that ruling (just as the terrible Dred Scott case was eventually overturned). But I fear too many lives and too much will have been irretrievably harmed.
As to my clear thinking--I just try to be informed, I try to apply logic, and I try not to be deluded.

Ginnie said...

Yes, you are informed and it's a great relief to read your blog entries. The fact-check guys had a hey-day with that speech by Ryan ...it was filled with untruths but the convention crowd cheered him anyway. Amazing !!!

NCmountainwoman said...

The local Republican party in our county is giving out large buttons that say a lot about the mentality around here. The pins say "GOP" in very large letters, and beneath them (with the G and the O and the D capitalized): "God's Official Party!" Yes, around here GOP means God's Official Party. Wonder if she will be upset if I vote for the other party?

merrilymarylee said...

Thank you!!! I am hoping that there will be a time when we can redefine some of the inflammatory rhetoric. For instance, it isn't pro life, it's pro unwanted pregnancy.

Remember when the Republican Party pushed Ronald Reagan as being the CHRISTIAN candidate over Jimmy Carter and evangelical churches went along with it, even though Carter's work is the epitome of what Jesus taught? "Christian" has too often become a code word for excusing decidedly un-Christlike beliefs.

troutbirder said...

Very thought and well expressed. I concur completely...

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Compared to the United States Canada has few politicians known for their religion or who promote specific laws based on their religious prejudices.
The religious right is kept at bay even by a prime minister who is a Christian evangelical. For years, Catholic politicians lead Canada often going against Catholic doctrine. Now our parliament has increasingly more members who are from Asia: Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindu, etc. They participate in the secular state without aggressive reference to their individual faith. I wonder how the United States will handle it when these groups have many members in legislatures. Changes are coming!