What I mean when I say that I am a Christian Democrat…

 

I am a Christian.

I believe that the Gospel is more than a representation of Christ; I believe that it is God’s unhindered offer of hope and redemption, the personified graciousness that he extends, not only to the group he chose through Old Testament covenants, but to all people who recognize the death and resurrection of Christ as an open invitation into God’s family. I believe that Christianity is best characterized by tangible compassion for the poor and the disenfranchised — that it is most genuine in its quick extension of mercy; most operational in its prioritization of the needs of masses over those of the individual; most intentional in its serving of widows, orphans, and the likes; and most ardent in its denouncing of violent prejudice, racial and otherwise.

I am also a Democrat.

And I’m a Democrat because I’m a Christian, not in spite of it. From my perspective, the two are not mutually exclusive.

I’m a Democrat because I believe that, in general, the values championed by this particular party best represent the priorities of Christianity. And I know and love many who believe that Republicanism does the same! But rather than discussing or trying to counter the positions that these people hold, I want to take a moment to explain how my faith informs my political positions in the hopes that I might find common ground among those whose think differently than I do. Because if there is one thing that we need in this election cycle, it is the ability to hear and understand each other better. So here’s what I mean when I say that I am a Christian Democrat.

I’m a Democrat because I cannot ignore verses like Luke 3:11, Hebrews 13:2, and Matthew 25:35-40 which urge me to welcome refugees (to make their way through our already extensive vetting process) with openness and care. And if we are going to compare these human beings to potentially poisoned skittles, I’ll join Eli Bosnick in saying, “Give me all the skittles!”

I’m a Democrat because I believe that Christ’s priority was to care for the hurt, the broken,  and the outcast of society. I believe that he was a champion for women and minorities. He did not exploit those who served and worked for him, and he condemned the proposition that women are sexual objects to be subjected to anyone’s sexual perversions. Jesus urged his followers to offer care the homeless, the destitute, and the disadvantaged without stipulation or performance-based requirement. And until the Church can provide comprehensive services that extend real care and practical protection to these groups — the homeless, the addicted, etc. — I will gladly offer my tax dollars to do the job.

I’m a Democrat because I support the Black Lives Matter movement. And as controversial as this statement may be to some, I recognize that our country was built on a system that perpetuates the continued exploitation and incarceration of non-white people, and while all lives certainly matter to Jesus, the ones “on fire” (as so aptly explained in this analogy) deserve focused attention and preservation.

I’m a Democrat because I believe that advocating for justice in the Black Community is not the same thing as advocating for violence against the police. As John Stewart so perfectly explained, “You can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country, and still be troubled by cases of police overreach. Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive.”

I’m a Democrat because I believe that families matter, and because I have a vested interest in providing the means for children to be well-cared-for and well-bonded to their parents, especially in their early years. I believe that everyone — business owners, educators, the childless, etc. — shares this interest because we recognize a simple truth: kids who are well-raised and well-loved grow into contributing members of society, and we ought to use our funds to support endeavors to provide Paid Family Leave.

I’m a Democrat who is anti-abortion and pro-choice — at the same time. And I admit to wrestling with the commonly embraced pro-choice position because I believe that God creates life — and I believe that so strongly that there was once a day when nothing could have convinced me that abortion was ever an acceptable option.

Then, life happened.

Twice, I faced scenarios where I had to make the impossible choice to save my own life or to save my baby’s, and I learned that there is such a wide array of issues that can arise in pregnancy to make mom’s like me face the worst decisions of their lives, and attempting to legislate those decisions only puts women at further risk.

And I’m not alone. Women all over the country face what I did, and despite losing the babies we wanted, we gained more compassion and the understanding that women need the freedom to make the best decisions that they can in consultation with their doctors, and not with the United States Congress or Court systems. Yes, I recognize that legalized abortion means that women will use that freedom in ways that I don’t agree with. And that breaks my heart because I want fewer and fewer and fewer abortions. So, I will advocate for what we know will reduce those rates: better access to contraception and sex education. I will fight against those who perpetuate the myth of the “9th month abortion,” and I will respect the complex nuances that place women in increasingly unimaginable situations.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I’m a Democrat because I live in a country founded on the freedom of and the freedom from religion — because we ought not legislate anyone’s religious convictions, including my own.

Listen, I recognize — and experience! — the fear that our current election cycle perpetuates in the hearts of people all around the world. Issues have triggered anger, trauma, and violence all across our country because we are faced with two candidates who both hide and dance with their skeletons. Voter concerns are widespread, as varied as the age, ethnicities, and backgrounds of the voters themselves. And we are all tasked with voting our consciences, and not with fighting one another. Certainly, there is space in this country to find and fight for that which unites us more than we hammer each other on that which divides!

My convictions might sway me toward the left, and yours might sway you toward the right. Whichever position you might find, my only challenge to you is this: hold your political positions with an open hand. Be willing to listen. Be more willing to challenge yourself than you are to challenge that stranger on Twitter or Facebook. And vote! Whatever you do, choose the candidates who represents the values that govern your life, and make your voice heard on November 8th.

Because the only sin in American democracy is the sin of staying silent.

 

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From Persephone Magazine: Living with Nevers (2011)

I have a silver necklace that I never wear. It’s a double-layered cylinder on a thin silver chain. Embedded in the center are two simple, tiny footprints surrounded by the names “Isaac” and “John.” My necklace is a reminder of my sons: beautiful identical twin boys who I never saw, never kissed, and never even held. Boys I never knew in this life.

My sons were born at 4:50 a.m. on June 29, 2010. Both were stillborn. Both were so deformed that the doctors could not distinguish their gender without an autopsy. Both were my sons ““ my precious, beautiful babies.

I miss them both. I think about them every single day.

As a mother to stillborn children, I live with a lot of “nevers.” Never felt them kick. Never heard them cry. Never kissed a scraped knee. Never heard a first word. Never walked them to school. Never grounded them for staying out late. Never. Never. Never. My life with these children is full of nevers. But there is one never that I am finding more difficulty with as of late: I never talk about them.

This never is not as uncommon as I thought, even though, statistically speaking, 1 out of every 150-200 pregnancies ends as a stillbirth. This is a startlingly high statistic, especially considering how little I hear about stillbirths and the women who survive them.

How many, do you think, live with the same nevers that I do? How many never speak of their babies, afraid that they will seem ungrateful for those who lived? How can we remove the stigma from stillbirths, opening the door for women to grieve publicly, to acknowledge the precious lives that were replaced with never-ending nevers?

For me, this process began by replacing at least one never with an always.

3 months after my sons were born, I crawled in my bed, hoping to escape the real world for an hour or two. Hogwarts seemed to be an acceptable venture, so I slowly began to reread the last book in the Harry Potter series. This series is one that I have always wanted to read to my children. In fact, for years I dreamed of the nights that my kids would take baths, put on their jammies, brush their teeth, and jump on my bed for a bedtime story. Even now, I can almost see us taking a year or two to make our way through the whole series, and I plan on reading it slowly and carefully, accentuating every syllable and every wand-wave.

That night as I read, I got the strangest feeling. It was as if I was piled under covers, sitting between two blonde little boys who wanted me to read Harry Potter with the voices. And strangely enough, I did. Quietly and to myself, I began to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows out loud to my sons. It was like they were there, with me, hearing the story of bravery and family, of love and war, of hope, of death, of resurrection. And for a moment, I got a chance to do something that I never thought I would do: I got to read a story to my boys.

That moment brought me hope.  It reminded me, and reminds me still, that my sons lived, that their lives were precious, that they are worth remembering.

And so I write this remembrance to honor my boys. But I also do it to remind you. October is a month dedicated to more than breast cancer awareness. It is also focused on remembering those who have suffered a miscarriage and/or a stillbirth. So this month, I will wear my necklace. And in doing so, I will remember my sons.  And I will remember the thousands of women who never speak of their children.  I hear your nevers and I wish you a lifetime filled with more than one always.