Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Faithfull Democrats - Family and Culture

Faithfull Democrats - Family and Culture
Copyright by Faithfull Democrats

The health of our nation is based in no small measure on the health of our families, which are the building blocks of our culture. Christians are called to build a supportive, loving, and moral society in which families can thrive.

Key Points

* Strong families require a society that looks after the common good and promotes economic opportunity instead of leaving families to fend for themselves.
* Almost everyone agrees on the need for reducing the number of abortions, including most of those who believe abortion should be legal. Reduction and prevention should be the focus of our nation's abortion policy.
* Homosexuality is and will remain a controversial subject in the Christian community. But gays should not be scapegoats for the numerous serious threats that American families and children face.

Issue Analysis

Many American families feel under attack. Statistics vary, but somewhere around half of all marriages end in divorce, some three million women are physically abused by their husbands or boyfriends every year, about a quarter of all pregnancies end in abortion, sex and violence on TV have been increasing for decades, and, at a time when average wages are stagnant while education and health care costs are rising, many Americans don’t have enough time to spend with their families. Something has to give.

In response to these challenges, Republicans have rightly talked the talk of “family values.” But they’ve done precious little to ease the anxieties that families face. No, demagoguing the issues of same-sex marriage and abortion, as if they were the only topics of importance to families, doesn’t count. In the words of Ohio Congressman Ted Strickland, “Any so-called value system that does not reward hard work and help families face the challenges of today's life has no real value.”

Christianity’s emphasis on love and community demands that our nation create the conditions in which families can succeed. Part of the solution must be economic. When members of middle-class and poor families have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, that means less time to spend with one another. Sadly, economic difficulties also push many desperate women into having abortions. The families that do have children often find that the high cost of child care creates “latchkey kids” who thirst for supervision and love. Moreover, the under-funding of public schools means that millions of children are being unprepared to become productive adults and provide for their families. Policies promoting economic justice and opportunity — living wage jobs, health care for all, corporate accountability, good public schools, and more — will make for stronger families.

Still, economic solutions are not enough. Reducing the number of abortions will also require better sex education. Cutting down on sleaze in the media — on TV, on the Internet, in movies, in video games — will require public officials to put pressure on the entertainment industry. And though homosexuality is and will remain a controversial subject in the Christian community, and no church should have to give the sacrament of marriage to a union of which it disapproves, every American should have equal legal rights. Surely, gays should not be scapegoated for the numerous serious threats that children and families face.

Public policy, of course, cannot do everything. Many families and individuals feel a spiritual emptiness, a longing for love and connection, that government programs will never fix. It’s therefore imperative that churches and other community-based institutions continue to play a vigorous role in people’s lives. Government can foster positive social conditions, but community-based groups must be on the front lines of helping American families become all that God longs for them to be.

What Scripture Says
Scripture contains thousands of passages offering sweeping calls for us to be good and loving to one another, of which the following are just a few:

"Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

"Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” (Matthew 22:37-40).

“Mercy triumphs over judgment! What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:18-19)

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God . . . because God is love.” (I John 4:7-8)

“I hate and I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your solemn assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like an ever-flowing stream!” (Amos 5:21-24)

Scripture points to the importance of caring for children:

“Jesus called a little child to himself, and set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea.’” (Matthew 18:2-6)

The Bible is unclear on abortion, leading many Christians to disagree on the issue. Some passages support the position that life begins before birth:

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
(Psalm 139:13-16)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

"And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Luke 1:39-41)

“The Lord called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother he made mention of my name." (Isaiah 49:1)

Other passages suggest that a fetus is not a full human being:

“And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she loses her offspring, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (Exodus 21:22-25)

“‘Why, then, did you bring me out of my mother's womb? Why didn't you let me die at birth? Then I would have been spared this miserable existence. I would have gone directly from the womb to the grave.” (Job 10:18-19)

“If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things, and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, ‘Better the miscarriage than he, for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; it is better off than he.’” (Ecclesiastes 6:3-5)

“Take a census of the tribe of Levi by its families and clans. Count every male who is one month old or older.” (Numbers 3:15)

Homosexual behavior is regarded as a sin in several verses, including Romans 1:26-27 and Leviticus 18:22. Yet the Bible places equal or even greater emphasis on other actions, such as the following, that most Americans believe should not deprive people of equal rights under the law:

Adultery (Deuteronomy 22:21, Exodus 20:14, Matthew 5:28, 2 Peter 2:14)
Divorce (Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:3-9, Mark 10:2-12)
Drunkenness (Luke 1:15, Ephesians 5:18, 1 Corinthians 6:12)
Gossiping (Romans 1:28-32, 2 Corinthians 12:20)


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