Why I’m Christian and Unaffiliated

Spoiler alert: I’m Mormon. This is about my faith.

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I’m close friends with some very faithful, wonderful people who, go figure, are also Mormons. Their influence on my life is of such indescribable value that I will forever be a devoted, loyal friend to them. I not only owe them that, but I love them and always want to feel the light of their goodness in my life.

A solid majority, probably 70%, of my close Mormon friends are either registered Democrats or heavily lean Democrat. Most of the others don’t identify with a party, but lean Libertarian, while there are a select few who are card-carrying Republicans.

I wish my friends wouldn’t have to defend their affiliations, particularly with the Democratic party, based on the perceptions of others regarding their religious faith and doctrine. That’s just stupid.

It’s not just about abortion.

Granted, I don’t affiliate with ANY party, and abortion is one of the reasons I don’t affiliate with EITHER of the two major parties, but that’s not all there is in politics. As the LDS Church has repeatedly said and avers on its website, there are aspects of both major political parties’ platforms that align with the church’s doctrine and preaching.

Since that is the demonstrated truth, why do people continually hound Mormons who profess themselves as members of the Democratic Party? More than that, why do so many Christians (JUDGE NOT!) seem to think that being a ‘real’ Christian means that you’ll be a Republican?

The Republican party and Democratic party are equally to blame for the morass our country is experiencing, and there are people in both parties who sincerely want to help the country and its people improve. I submit that too many of those people very quickly forget their altruistic ideals when they hit Congress, but that’s another discussion for another day.

All of this leads to a very fine article from Ellen Painter Dollar on why she is a Christian Democrat. I think it is an excellent, albeit somewhat incomplete, discussion of the positions that my friends take on important issues. Here’s the article. Go read it, then come back here.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ellenpainterdollar/2012/10/why-i-am-a-christian-democrat/

This piece has encouraged me to illuminate, for you and myself, why my Christian, Mormon faith leads me to make the choice to not affiliate with any party.

Religion is a choice—an individual choice to align one’s life with a set of creeds and teachings and principles, basing one’s life and choices on these things. Personal and individual philosophies on how to best live your life and how to best, through your efforts, help others, or ‘feed His sheep’ are crucial to a Christian. Christianity is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy. It’s about each person learning to, and building greater capacity to, make the choices that bring about salvation, joy, exaltation, and a better world in one’s own life and the world of others.

What I see when I read scripture is that Christ did not come to govern, nor did he come with a message about how human governments should be run. He came with healing for each, individual child of God. He taught us to ‘love our neighbor.’ In my mind, that’s not a viable government foreign policy, although it IS a solid principle that can help guide foreign policy.

What it comes down to, for me, is that Christ teaches me how to be a better, more godly and more Christlike me, and how I should live my life. None of His teachings tell me how to vote or govern; they tell me how to extend my hand and stride in service to my brothers and sisters.

Asking a government to follow the teachings of Jesus, or voting because I think a certain person will implement the teachings of Jesus—that is not my way and it frankly makes me uncomfortable. What’s more, Christ never indicated that such was His way. Instead, he pointed out that we render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. His message is to the individual, and it is about what the individual can do, not what the individual should try to get others to do for still others.

He used His divine power to perform miracles, feeding thousands, healing hundreds, and saving untold billions of souls. He never said that governments should do the same; while at the same time He DID give His followers the charge to feed His sheep and help the poor and afflicted.

His prescription did not deal with institutions being Christlike to others and saving themselves through faith and endurance to the end; His prescription deals with individuals and individual responsibility for our lives and choices and souls.

He was talking to people, not governments or institutions, when He told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. He reached out to the poor, the afflicted, the ill, the lost, and the sinful. He was not a representative from, or a ruler in, the government. He was one man, the Son of God, teaching individual children of God what they should do. Every teaching was directed at people, not institutions.

Now some might say that He is a representative from the government of God. But if you think it through, God’s government is not top-down; it’s bottom-up. The city of Zion became perfect and translated not because God made it happen, but because the people made and kept covenants, and THEY activated a promised miracle from God by living according to the highest of laws.

This is not to say that governments don’t have a duty to help the people whom they serve, providing welfare and assistance inasmuch as is possible and truly helpful. Of course governments need to do these things. But in Christ’s way? How? What is the best way to provide this service? Profligate spending? Tax cuts? Obfuscation?

Maintaining and propagating the status quo so it metastasizes into ultimate destruction of our way of life?

It’s a nice thought, and, ultimately true, that we need a government, be it a county, state, or federal government to provide assistance to individuals in their endeavors to help others. But it’s also true that it is due to a combination of government intervention and unethical insurance companies, as well as our strange healthcare delivery system where the consumer is so separated from cost, among many other things, that prices have grown to such heights that helping a tragically ill person pay for treatment requires government assistance.

It’s naïve to overlook the role that a cronyism-saturated, corrupt, business and government marriage has played in making the problems we are trying to fix worse.

And asking government to take a larger hand in people’s lives might be making things worse too.

All of that aside, it is not only Christian to help others, it is fundamentally right and it is our duty as humans to reach out and lift others up. We hope our vote helps others live better, healthier lives wherein potential is more likely to be reached.

I see Christ speaking to individuals. I can’t save you; only you can. I can help you, I can give you tools, and I can sacrifice my interests for yours, but ultimately, it is up to you to make a life that brings you joy and whatever else you seek.

I find that both major parties want, on their face, to help the country and its people. I also find that they both seek power, control, and influence, and hardly ever for ultimately good reasons. I feel that both parties obfuscate truth, deliberately derail discussion of the true causes of our problems, use fear to motivate (which is deeply unChristlike), wantonly and brazenly manipulate their base of support, and simply conduct themselves in a way I cannot associate with.

Yes, I have absurdly high standards for a party I might adhere to. Of course I do; I don’t want to screw things up for my brothers and sisters on this earth.

I believe that God in Heaven knows us better than any bureaucracy or institution could ever know us. I believe that His gift of free agency is beyond value and is a model for government. I have found, through study, that I cannot adhere to either major party; my personal conscience and journey preclude this.

As always, I am enough of an adult to understand and have no problem with others having different opinions and approaches to life from mine. I adore that and thrive on those differences—they help me understand myself and evolve.

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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