Saturday, September 27, 2008

value voters and the spiritual pay-off

i think that being a value-voter is being a lazy christian.

being a value-voter has implications. it implies that we want someone in office who, say, opposes abortion or same-sex marriage. someone who sees the importance of abstinence-only education. who prays. goes to church. claims God as the center of his life.

the logical next step is that this person will carry values into their decisions.

ignoring what has happened with the current president of the united states and his lies, let's look at a decision that this "christian" made regarding abstinence-only education, since i am a teacher and education matters to me, as does sex. president bush passed a law in 2000 that limited sex education as part of his "no child left behind" reform (which continues to fail on an abundance of levels). the law declared that if states wanted to receive federal funding for their sex education programs, they could only teach abstinence as a means to stop pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases, and the failure rates of all types of contraceptives. students couldn't learn how to use contraceptives, how to have safe sex, how to protect themselves against disease, only abstinence and failure rates.

the law also required the center for disease control to remove all scientific research and documentation regarding the effectiveness of contraceptives from its publications and websites. all that scientific research had to be suppressed.

california rejected this proposal, which meant that california rejected federal funding for sex education. it could not refuse the funding that the center for disease control offered, since it was fighting west nile virus and avian flu, so it had to comply and remove all scientific research from its cfdc websites that proved the effectiveness of contraceptives. but it refused the sex education money so that it could teach its students comprehensive sex education. it was the only state to do so for approximately five years, during which time teen-pregnancy rates skyrocketed throughout the united states, as did std rates and the number of teenage abortions. california's rates continued to decrease.

eventually more and more states began to realize the catastrophe that they had on their hands, and they began to refuse the federal money. currently, sixteen states in the united states refuse federal money for the teaching of sex education, which means they refuse to teach absitence only education.

so what happened? teenagers across the country were learning abstinence and that the only place for sex was in marriage, all because of a law that was grounded on good christian values, and it backfired. teenagers continued to have sex, except they had sex in unsafe ways. the number of single-parents increased. the number of teen abortions increased. all because of a law founded on good christian values.

but this law founded on good christian values had a spiritual impact, right? because shouldn't that be the point of electing "christian" leaders? leaders with whom we share the same values? shouldn't we expect society to improve by grounding it in good values and morals?

california's health-education standards state that sex education in california is to be absitence-first. this means that abstinence is taught as the only sure-fire way to prevent pregnancy and stds, but that there are other ways as well. abstinence first, contraceptives second. it's a real approach. and it's paying off.

our goal as christians is to bring unbelievers closer to Christ, not to create order in our fallen world. our actions must have a spiritual pay-off in mind instead of seeking to turn the country into something comfortable, like church. choosing to elect someone who will, say, overturn roe v. wade must be based on the belief that making abortion illegal will have a spiritual pay-off. except making abortion illegal will only create a lucrative black market for abortions, not bring desperate women closer to Christ. choosing to elect someone who will, say, write into the constitution that marriage can only be between a man and a woman must be based on the belief that outlawing same-sex marriage will have a spiritual pay-off. except same-sex couples will always be around, and the church will continue to push them away from Christ.

if we want to do something about this fallen world, we must accept our great commision and do the heavy-lifting ourselves, instead of being lazy christians and voting for someone who will dictate our values so that we can sit back and enjoy the benefit. because unless they know Christ, those teenagers who are choosing abstinence? if they died today they would be no better off than if they had started to have sex. those women who kept their babies? not better off. those same-sex couples who can't marry? not better off. preventing unbelievers from doing things we may not agree with has no eternal benefit.

so what do we vote for? not for rebuilding the christian nation that never was, but for order, yes, and honesty, dedication, wisdom. but we keep our great commision for ourselves. we work towards women exploring more than one option, with Christ in mind. we work towards breaking stereotypes, prejudice, and taboos, with Christ in mind.

our goal as christians should not be to prevent people from "sinning," or about "fixing the country" and "creating a better world." our goal is to be lights in this world, for his kingdom.

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