Alternate title: Fragrant Cognitive Dissonance (because it stinks, you see. I am very funny.).
As I’ve discussed previously, cognitive dissonance is holding two opinions at the same time that are directly contrary to each other. As this blog has taken a decidedly religious slant, I always like to use the example of Matthew 5:17-18 vs Galatians 3:13. For my readers who are unfamiliar with Mosaic Law, it concerns things such as stoning people who try to tempt you away from God, bans on the wearing clothing of mixed fabrics, bans on the use of pig skin (perhaps not as relevant any more as I doubt footballs are made with the actual skin of a pig), as well as considerations one has to make in the owning of slaves, and the required daily and monthly sacrifices. Perhaps you can see, then, why it is odd that in the New Testament you are commanded both to follow the Law and not follow the Law, as it would play a fairly significant part in your day-to-day life if you were following it.
That is an obvious, literal issue with cognitive dissonance in the Bible — but now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s focus on something even more relevant to my general audience, political-religious cognitive dissonance. “Wow, religion and politics in a single post?! I’ll bet you have a TON of friends.” Ignore my social life for a moment, this is more important than that!
I am a Canadian (you might have noticed the .ca in your address bar), but I will use American politics as my baseline (I am, arguably, more familiar with American politics than I am with local politics in any case. I know the general stance of the parties, I know which party I will vote for in future elections [barring a major party-line shift], and I know that in my riding my vote matters very little because we do not use a popular vote system, and that is stupid. That is a rant for another day, though.).
The Republican party is touted as the party that uses “Biblical values,” and I have even heard them called (albeit by a poorly written protest poster) “The party Jesus would vote for.” They are the PERFECT real world example of the party that gets single-issue-votes. Their stance on abortion, primarily.
I will admit, abortion is pretty clear-cut; thou shalt not kill (except you can totally stone non-believers. And witches. And people you think are witches. And people who look like they could be witches. Et cetera), but to take that as your primary political stance is an egregious breach of one’s duty to weigh political policy on the whole. Their stance is that of small government, reducing taxes, and reducing social platforms. They stand in staunch resistance of the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) which, over the course of its time applied in law, could lead indirectly to saving millions of lives.
Why would Republicans stand against Obamacare, and yet gain the vote of the Bible Belt electorate? Cognitive dissonance. You actually don’t have to be a Biblical Literalist for this to apply to you, oddly enough; I know many people who know 4 of the 10 commandments, go to Church twice per year (Easter and Christmas, of course), and couldn’t name the four gospels, yet would vote Republican solely based on “Pro-Life” alone. How prevalent is abortion? Well, that numbers varies wildly, but it seems to be somewhere around 2% of pregnancies in the United States are ended by induced abortion. That is a very high number, but not nearly so high as the number of people dying of otherwise preventable conditions (people who could be helped by the affordable care act). This is a case of failing to weight the scales fairly; being pro-life is easy, as you can simply quantify the number of lives saved (and, despite my previous rants on the subject, this post is not about abortion). The Affordable Care Act, however, indirectly saves lives, and the ability to quantify the number of lives saved by this Act is difficult to quantify. How does one weight the scales? I would argue, for the sake of being fair, that one could use the Bible, but maybe that is just me being crazy (again).
I have read this presented by many conservative Christian media outlets, and it always confused me. If you are Religious and could help me out here, help me to understand this part, I would be forever grateful. It is oft said of the Bible (by various groups, but certainly not all groups) that it stands against Socialism.
Socialism, by the way, is basically the idea that wealth should be shared amongst the people, and that the poor should be assisted (such as by a social safety net). Do you see it yet? The dissonance? Even the dissonance within the Bible, and for the people? The requirement for the proper distribution of weight on the scales? Yes? Then you can skip the next bit (You can skip all the way to the line of stars, but I think you may appreciate this next bit nonetheless), but if not let’s dive into that concept a bit.
The first, and most obvious, is the reduction of taxation on the rich that is advocated by the Republican party and its wealthy donors. It is said twice in the Bible that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom (ie Heaven) (Mark 10:25, Matthew 19:24), so what do the rich defend their greed with? Let’s start by cherry picking some verses, and we can move on from there; 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says that should a man not work, neither should he eat. Social Safety nets, therefore, are the work of the devil! Those lazy freeloaders, say you! Even God speaks against them! To me, this is a very unfair weighting of the scales; social safety nets are not there to allow people to take and give nothing back; they are there to help the unfortunate back onto their feet. They are there to help the person whose job was liquidated during the recession find work. They are there to help those with no skills learn. I would argue the other side of the scale would weigh ten times against this with just a single verse in 1 Timothy (6:10); For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith. Forgive me, but I would say that part is fairly clear cut.
“Ah,” you reply, “But the scale is offset by 1 Corinthians 8:13!” I see you are a veteran picker of cherries, friend! Verse 13 does weight the other side, for it says “I mean not that other men be eased and ye burdened!” Then again, what about verse 14 OF THAT EXACT CHAPTER? Does it not weight the side of socialism? For it says “now at this time your abundance be a supply for their want, that their abundance may be a supply for your want, that there may be equality.” Verse 15 continues “He that had gathered much had no excess; and he that had gathered little lacked for nothing.”
That sounds pretty socialist to me, but I’ve already admitted to being the crazy one. Galatians 6:2 offers something of a direct order to socialism; bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. How about Luke 3:11? He that hath two coats, let him give one to he that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” I could quote the Bible for days, friends! Come at me, opponents of charity! Come at me, opponents of socialism! STAND AND DELIVER!
How about something that speaks DIRECTLY to the Affordable Care Act? Jesus healed the sick across the land, for free; but maybe that is too anecdotal for you. Perhaps this is more explicit? Go read all of Matthew chapter 25. It’s cool, I’ll wait. Take your time. If you come out of that thinking Jesus would not want you to support universal health care, I cannot help you, friend, for your destiny is that of the Pit, where there shall be fire and the gnashing of teeth.
I leave the scale tipped against the Republican political platform, in favor of the Christian platform. A very small number of verses that could (and only when taken out of context) be interpreted as standing against socialism, weighted against innumerable verses standing for socialism. Even with regards to paying the tax, Christians are tasked with rendering unto Caesar. Perhaps you are attached to your money, but the government uses your money for the public good, for the roads, the schools, the hospitals, the police, the fire fighters. This is in fulfillment of the biblical teachings an hundredfold.
Woah. Things got weird there. I started to actually *think* in translated English for a few minutes. Welcome back, all readers!
Allow me to summarize what you skipped, if indeed you skipped; I just used the Bible to fight against the Bible. I think I won, but you are free to use your own scoring system. I am not here to force my ideas onto you; I am here to create a conversation. I know I am one of a million voices repeating the same dry message, but for some reason you are here reading it, so I’ll assume you find it at least a little bit interesting.
The point is this; you may vote Republican (or conservative, or Tory, the name is different everywhere) because they are “Pro-Life”, without considering the fact that the BULK (yes, I would argue that bulk is the proper word here) of their policies stand in stark opposition to the Bible, and would (I argue) lead to far more deaths than would those preached by more left leaning parties (Americans, I am sorry, but you really don’t even have the option to vote for a party that follows Biblical teaching; neither of them is even CLOSE). Canada has a wider array of parties that are closer to the Bible, if you absolutely INSIST on using that as your criteria, but I would argue that you should form your own set of values and vote based on those.
Why would I argue that?
I would argue that you should form your own moral framework because the Bible so often disagrees with itself that forming political opinions based STRICTLY upon its tenets is a game that cannot be won. I would say the only winning move is not to play (because I love quoting geek history), but that is not close to the truth; the only winning move is to change the rules of the game.
That’s my political-religious rant. I won’t even tell you who to vote for, I just want you to vote for the right reasons.
Thanks again for reading!