How American values don’t align with most conservative values
A lot of the time the words Christian values and American values are talked about interchangeably. As I have become an adult, I have become increasingly aware that there aren’t a whole lot of American values I find to be the cornerstone around which I have built my life.
I was raised Chrisitan, and a lot of these values are things I still hold very near and dear to my heart. Frankly, it’s a little distressing to me how many Chrisitan individuals cling closer to their American values than their Christian ones, and I am tired of it.
I am tired of sitting down to watch Fox News and listening to them promote themselves as a conservative, Christian, honest news source when in reality very few of the policies they promote are informed by Christian values. So I am going to break down some of the core Christian values, and how we as a Western society have actually perverted them to fit the current political climate and fall short of the goal post.
Grace and generosity
I find that this one is actually one of Christ’s most radical teachings. It is the principle that no matter where you’re from or who you are, you’re worthy. “It means giving people more than they deserve irrespective of the cause of their need and without regard to national, cultural or religious boundaries,” Brian Edgars 8 Christian values.
Christians are called to give freely, generously and without hesitation. Yet, we live in a culture that values equivalent exchange. We can not give something without thinking about the cost.
Prime political example: food stamps. The Food and Drug Administration defines food stamps as eligible to those, “Working for low wages or working part-time; Unemployed; Receiving welfare or other public assistance payments: Elderly or disabled and are low-income, or Homeless.”
Christians are called to generosity, and I am not going to be so bold as to speak for Jesus, but I think he wouldn’t be a fan of people like Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk’s holding on to billions. “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24
Yet, conservatives are always asking for stricter regulations on food stamps and other welfare programs for fear that they do not go to those who need it. We are not called to give to those who need, but to give freely.
Love and compassion
I don’t think I need to define these terms for you. “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these,” Mark 12:31. But what if they are gay? What if they are Black? What if they are an immigrant, pro-choice, democratic, a teen-mom, a sex worker?
The commandment does not change.
As Christians, we shouldn’t choose who we practice compassion for. We should love everyone. We don’t have to like everyone nor do we have to agree with everyone. But we do have to see their value as human beings.
Jesus’ ministry was so radical because he sat and ate with the people that were considered lesser, that were the blights on society: tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick.
Yet Christians, myself included sometimes, can have a tendency to be so stuck on our high horses we become disconnected from the very people we want to talk to. We are all human beings, all have sinned and pretending that we are somehow above the average human makes people feel that Christians are hypocritical and judgmental.
We need to actively practice what we preach.
“Biblical justice means very practical, down-to-earth actions which take place to ensure that the weak are protected from abuse, that the poor have what they need, that the stranger in the land is shown hospitality and that the socially disadvantaged are cared for,” said Bryan Edgar, regardless of perceived deservedness.
Egad! You mean not helping immigrants isn’t biblical? What a concept! Refusing to support Black Lives Matter may not align with Christ’s teachings?
I feel like I shouldn’t have to sit here and say these things but alas, here I am. Jesus in his time didn’t deal with racism as we do in America, but the similarities still present. Instead of white versus everyone else, it was Jew versus Roman. It was Jew versus gentile. Romans 2:11 says “For God shows no partiality.”
Jesus came to save all people. Not just one, the message is to reach all nations and all people. You can not say, “I am a born again Christian,” and continue to turn a blind eye to your calling: to stand up for those who can not stand up for themselves.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17. That is our job. That is biblical justice.
Sending someone to jail on non-violent drug charges is not justice. Lynchings are not justice. According to prisonpolicy.org, 58,000 people are in jail for immigration. That is not justice.
And I am going to choose to not explain to you why it is important to support widows and children. I like to believe that you are too intelligent for that.
There is more nuance here if we scratch even deeper.
Many Christian values are implicit, while Americans value are explicit, which is why on the surface they don’t conflict. Instead, we live in a culture being eaten alive by materialism, greed and individualism.
In search of self-promotion, we are quick to leave behind those who really need us through our lack of funding and public awareness of welfare policies and how they interconnect with Jesus’s teachings.
I would make the argument that we do not live in a Christian culture. And if we did live in a Christian culture, we would likely be better for it if we did follow these cultural values.
Furthermore, forcing religion to fit one party’s politics, instead of forming our politics on these values, is a disservice to how people see Christians. Frankly, it’s bad PR.
I don’t want people to look at our border and see children in cages and think that I am cool with that because I am Christian.
Finally, I want all people, especially Christians, to think critically about the policies and politicians they support and ask if these issues really are representative of what is morally correct.