Wednesday, 11 March 2015

I'm a Christian Therefore I'm a Liberal

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that most religious people are conservative and support right-wing parties. For instance, 80% of white evangelical protestant voters supported the Republican Party in the 2014 US presidential elections. In a 2006 study, research showed that most UK Anglicans remain firmly on the right. I also experience this in my own Church community where almost the entire congregation supports the Conservative Party of Canada. These conservative views, often called family values, include opposition to the right to same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia.

The part that frustrates me the most is that it has become expected or even required from a Christian to be conservative. Christians with liberal views are outnumbered and sometimes accused of veering from the true teachings of the Bible. I have to argue that they are very wrong. I believe that not only Christians can be liberal... but rather that they should be liberal!

Let’s look at euthanasia. Most would agree that euthanasia is considered a sin in the Christian faith, as well as most religions. As a Christian, I also believe that euthanasia is wrong. Nevertheless, it's very important to make a clear distinction between what someone might deem as right or wrong vs. the right to freedom of choice, belief and religion. I have the right to believe that euthanasia is morally or religiously wrong… but that doesn't mean in any way that others don’t have the right to do that very thing that I consider very wrong!

We must also not forget that no individual or belief system holds a monopoly over the truth… I might think that euthanasia is wrong, others might think otherwise… Why should my opinion be considered more right than theirs?

What I find very remarkable is that Jesus Christ Himself advocated for the separation of Church and State and supported the freedom of choice. And yes… this even includes the freedom to sin. Jesus didn't coerce anyone to following any of His teachings. Here are some examples:

  • Separation of Church and State – "...Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Mark 12:17)
  • Freedom of choice – "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful..." (1 Cor 10:23)
  • Jesus reprimanded his disciples when they wanted to call down fire from heaven on the village that didn't welcome Jesus. (Luke 9:51-56)
  • Jesus spoke about His wish to gather the people of Jerusalem to believe in Him, but they weren't willing. (Matthew 23:37)

Someone might say, “That’s fine! We’ll put this into a vote, and let the vote decide. I’ll vote against it… another might vote for it… and so on.” But that’s not enough! By doing so, minorities will be deprived from their rights and freedoms. There are many examples in history were minorities’ rights were suppressed. It’s our duty to support the rights and freedoms of minorities.

So I have to argue that Christians don’t have to support euthanasia, but must support people’s right to euthanasia. The maximum that you can do is to pray for them and try to convince them against it. But in the end, it’s their choice. The same applies to other issues such as same-sex marriage. You have the right to believe that the sacrament of marriage is between a Christian man and a Christian woman and that they become one in Christ. But homosexuals have the right to demand same-sex marriage even if you think that it’s wrong!


  1. What about marijuana legalization?

    1. @duraid - The purpose of this article is to show that the rationale behind prohibiting or legalizing something should not be based on faith or personal opinions.

      Regarding marijuana legalization, many religious people (excluding Rastafarians) would be inclined to vote against it because it's considered sinful. But that should *not* be the reason behind the decision.

      Reasons to support legalization:
      1- Marijuana is less harmful and less addicting than alcohol and tobacco. One could argue if you're going to ban marijuana, you should ban alcohol or tobacco first.
      2- Prohibition is not necessarily beneficial. When the US banned Alcohol, it lead to rise in crime
      3- Prohibition ruins innocent lives unnecessarily. Many people end up with criminal record for marijuana possession. This cripples their ability to function and get jobs. In the US alone, Police made more than 8.2 million marijuana arrests from 2001 to 2010! That's ridiculous!
      4- Prohibition costs a lot of money. The US spends $3.6 billion a year. One would have to ask whether it's worth it.
      5- How about the benefits of medical marijuana?
      6- You're infringing on the rights of Rastafarians. Bob Marley was once arrested. One may argue to give Rastafarian's a special exception, similar to the Supreme Court in Italy.
      7- It infringes on human liberty.

      Reason to prohibiting would be:
      1- There's fear that the number of users will increase. Studies vary, and the expected increase (or decrease) is disputed.
      2- Increase in number of smoking and driving.
      3- Harmful to the body and addictive (albeit less than Alcohol and Tobacco)
      4- Slippery slope: If you legalize Marijuana, what's next? legalizing cocaine, methane?

      I personally think it's wrong due to religious, social and health reasons. However, I do support legalizing it. I also support investing in programs to encourage the public to reduce its use. If you notice, none of the arguments are based on faith or personal opinion, but rather based on rational and objective analysis.

    2. You present a good argument which is, if I understand it correctly, your belief requires you to support other people's choices even if they are not in-line with it.

      I like this argument and I can relate to it as a father who encourages his children to exercise their free will even when they make bad decisions.

      However, I can think of a counter argument which I tried to allude to in my marijuana comment. I'm personally against the legalization of marijuana because I think people associate being 'legal' with being 'normal' and I'm afraid it will make it's use much more widespread.

      So the counter argument will be should we support people's free will even though it has negative effects on others?

    3. That's a very good question. But it's important to ask what's normal? Who decides what's normal and what's ok (morally that is)? It was abnormal for women to vote. It was abnormal for women to work. It was abnormal for blacks to be treated equal.

      Voltaire said "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

      Even if something is immoral, does it warrant us to criminalize it or prohibit it? You may agree that cheating is extremely immoral, should we put the cheater in jail? You may argue that pornography is immoral (others would disagree), should it be banned?

      The bottom line, it's not up to the government to define the moral code. It's a misconception that what's legal is what's normal. Some countries allow incest relationships, but that's hardly normal. The society, religions and people who define the moral code, not the government.

      Does that mean we allow everything? No. You must look at the impact to others. That's why murder is illegal because it infringes on the freedom of others. But if something has no impact on others, it ought to be allowed. This is called the "harm principle":

      "The harm principle states that the only actions that can be prevented are ones that create harm. In other words, a person can do whatever he wants as long as his actions do not harm others. If a person's actions only affect himself, then society, which includes the government, should not be able to stop a person from doing what he wants. This even includes actions that a person may do that would harm the person himself."

      So in summary, I disagree with your counter government because:
      - The government is not the enforcer of morality
      - What is not ok (abnormal or immoral) by one, may be considered absolutely ok for others. Why should one's opinion be considered *more right* that another
      - And even if the act is wrong, we shouldn't stop someone from doing what wouldn't harm others. (Harm principle)