Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tug of War

I was reading something today. A woman I really respect said this about her political views... Morally conservative, socially progressive, thus a conflicted voter.

That's a mouthful. When I read it I said ...'yes'. I know lots of people like this.

Moral conservatives do worry about what's happening in today's culture. There's something deep inside a moral conservatives heart that cries out for righteousness. Moral conservatives know that there are some God-given guidelines on more than a few things that really matter. It's not enough to wink and nod at attitudes and behaviors that are foundationally contrary to God's best for humankind.

Some, not all, moral conservatives are also very socially progressive. They've resisted the temptation to retreat into a Christian ghetto and believe very strongly that God's people need to intersect with culture in very pro-active ways. They care about justice and racism, feeding the poor and attending to the lonely. They know, befriend, and care about all kinds of different people. Many of the people they care about aren't necessarily very righteous but they love them anyway. They know that societal ills find their roots in that nasty thing we call 'sin' that has a spiritual remedy in Christ. They also know that God has asked us to help unravel and confront many of the structures and systems that trip people up.

And sometimes moral conservatives who are socially progressive find themselves in a bit of a tight spot ...especially around election time. Some candidates might gain points for their moral agenda but aren't very socially concerned. And some candidates care about the social welfare issues but can't speak clearly or with authenticity about moral considerations.

And so the morally conservative/socially progessive among us can get frustrated trying to figure out who to vote for. And it can get even more frustrating when people point a finger and don't even try to understand the tug of war going on in their life. You see, being morally conservative doesn't trump being socially engaged and involved. Nor does being socially progessive negate the need for a solid moral compass. They're two sides of the same coin. At least that's what my Bible tells me. Wouldn't it be nice if all candidates had strong moral foundations built on a mature faith and a social conscience? Not all do. Maybe most.

So, what does one do? Which value wins out in the voting booth?

I thank God for my morally conservative, socially progressive friends. They love God. They care about God's creations. Many are getting it done in places that most want to ignore. They run the risk of being labeled 'conservative' by some and 'liberal' by others. That just goes to show how shallow those labels really are.

I appreciate the tension they feel. May it be so for all of us.

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