Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Is Barack Obama a Red Letter Christian?

Many evangelicals seem taken with Barack Obama. Tired of the Religious Right and seeking a new tone in Washington, they see in this untested, enigmatic senator a chance for real change. And indeed he is congenial and a breath of fresh air when compared with the grasping Clinton dynasty. Many Bible-believers seem ready to look the other way with Obama, despite his extremely liberal voting record (including unfettered backing of abortion), because he appears to be a genuine person they can work with.

I wonder how his latest, religiously based comments might change this. The other day Obama reiterated his support for civil unions for homosexuals. No surprise there. Some Christians (but not me) do indeed allow for the conferring of some legal rights, short of marital status, on gays as a simple matter of fairness. But I suspect his rationale raised some hackles.

If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.

Since when did Romans 1 become obscure? I thought pitting the words of Jesus against those of Paul was a tactic of Red Letter Christians, not something a serious candidate for the Oval Office would engage in.

But be that as it may, it's a good thing that Obama is not running for theologian in chief. There is no refererence to gay civil unions in the Sermon on the Mount (unless you stretch the Golden Rule beyond all recognition). Perhaps Obama mixed up his Bible references, like Howard Dean calling Job his favorite New Testament book?

When Jesus spoke of marriage, of course, he assumed it is a heterosexual institution. There may be a legal case to be made for marriage-like civil unions. But, please, let's not drag Jesus into it.


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