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So, I’m not sure if people know this, but Drea and I were actually in a “dating relationship” for a few months back when I was in 10th grade and she was in 8th. (Permission to judge me for being a cradle-robber is hereby granted.)

I put “relationship” in quotes because it barely qualified as such, by even the most juvenile standards. Basically, we liked each other for a few months, and I finally worked up the courage to ask her out at a youth group outing to a Michael W. Smith concert (because I was super-cool back then). That was October 30, 1998, ten years ago today. How the time does fly!

Anyway, the words, “Will you go out with me?” and “Yes” were the first of about 19 words we exchanged verbally for the entire five or so months we went out. I suppose there are a few potential explanations for this, but it’s probably most accurate to say that at that point I was pretty much terrified of girls, including even my “girlfriend.” As such, we communicated via hand-written notes. (Remember, this was 1998, so we didn’t have email or texting or Facebook like all this young whipper-snappers do now.)

Our note-based discourse was usually centered on topics of unrivaled banality and meaninglessness: the latest songs on the radio, trips to Adventure World (as it was then known) for Hollow-Scream, whether or not it would be OK if I put my arm around her at youth group. (You think I’m kidding?)

We broke up (actually, Drea dumped me) because she evidently thought she could do better (WRONG). Actually she broke up with me because “this relationship wasn’t going anywhere” or something-or-other. Anyway, after a few awkward months we became good friends again, but with no romantic interest. It stayed this way for about six years until we started dating again in college. And as they say, the rest is history.

Happy 10 years, sweetheart! (Kind of.)

Jim Wallis is a Christian I deeply respect. In addition to writing several books on faith and politics (which are still on my list of to-reads), he’s the founder of Sojourners, a Christian organization that promotes social justice from a biblical perspective. I read his blog frequently, and I particularly appreciated one of his more recent posts in which he lists his personal “faith priorities” that will guide his vote in this election. His insights are thoughtful and worth considering, especially for those Christians who are still undecided on who to vote for.

At the end of his post, he invites us readers to examine our own faith priorities and make a similar list for ourselves. Over the past few months I’d had numerous friends and family members ask me why I’m voting for Obama in light of my Christian faith. I thought this might be a good opportunity to discuss the faith priorities that have guided my decision.

Consistent life ethic. This is probably the most significant of my faith priorities. Since God is the author and giver of life, I believe He alone has the right to decide when to end it. I believe our job then is to defend and preserve life “from womb to tomb.” This belief guides my position on a few issues (in no particular order)…

Foreign policy. Since I believe life is sacred, I think war is something to be considered with a great amount of caution. While I don’t believe all war is wrong, I do believe that there are certain criteria for a “just war.” While there are various “just war theories”, here is a short list of things I personally consider important criteria:

  • The intent is to leave our world a safer and more peaceful place than when we began, and has nothing to do with economic or political gain.
  • Every practical non-violent solution has already been tried without success.
  • There is a real, legitimate threat to our security if military action is not taken.
  • Benefits of success are proportionate to measures necessary for success.
  • The intended outcome is sustainable after troops are withdrawn.

To me, justification of war is just as much a life issue as anything else. I cannot support a candidate who so disregards the sanctity of life as to send our soldiers to risk their lives in an unjust war. I’m interested in a candidate who “chooses life” whenever possible in this regard. To me, this approach is not only more honoring to God, but also more consistent with the values of life and liberty that America is supposed to represent.

Abortion. Continuing in this consistent life ethic, I also believe in the sanctity of life in the womb. I believe abortion is more than an unfortunate reality of our time, but a brazen rejection of sacred life. Whatever our different spiritual beliefs are about when life begins, I think we can all agree on a goal of reducing the abortion rate as much as possible.

While there was a time when I wouldn’t have even considered voting for a pro-choice candidate, I’m now convinced that this issue demands a deeper look than simply a candidate’s position on Roe v. Wade. Given the implications that financial status, availability and affordability of health care, economic assistance, and other social services have on the abortion rate, I’m interested in a candidate’s stances in these areas. I believe that if a candidate truly cares about the welfare of the unborn, it will be reflected in his policies, not just his words.

Obama’s support of the 95-10 Initiative, in addition to his health care plan and other economic policies that will aid lower and middle class women, indicate to me that he offers (whether intentionally or as a by-product) a pragmatic, realistic plan to reduce the abortion rate in this country. While I commend John McCain’s verbal opposition to Roe v. Wade, he has not backed up his words with the kind of policies that have proven to be effective in reducing abortions. In short, I value a plan of action more than lip service, which is why I enthusiastically support Obama on this issue.

While there are other important issues I believe a consistent life ethic applies to (world hunger, genocide, social security, veteran care, capital punishment, tax policy, etc.) I will pass these over for brevity’s sake in order to discuss some other reasons why my Christian faith leads me to vote for Obama.

Personality. OK, pease don’t misinterpret me here; I’m not talking about Obama’s oratory skills or charisma (although these attributes would serve him well as President). I’m talking about his personal demeanor and temperament. Having now watched Obama endure the attacks, smears, and hostile debates that characterize any presidential campaign, I have seen him firmly defend himself and argue against his opponents, but have never seen him lose his cool or react with anger or disrespect. His calm, collected composure and ability to control his temper are in sharp contrast with McCain’s angry, belligerent demeanor. As a Christian looking for attitudes and behaviors that reflect the heart of Christ, I think it’s obvious which candidate stands out.

Racial reconciliation. As our country continues to deal with foreign and domestic racial conflict, I’m looking for a candidate (white, black, or otherwise) who will stimulate progress in this area. To me, racial reconciliation is not just a social ideal for a stronger nation, but a crucial element in a God-honoring worldview.

Barack Obama has helped heal a lot of deep-seated racial tension in this country. Yes, it’s true that he can’t help the fact that he’s black. I believe, however, that his ability to bring racial and ethnic groups together is not just a result of his being black, but of his values and actions in this regard. I believe Obama has displayed one of the most unifying and God-glorifying attitudes toward race that I’ve seen. The speech he gave on race back in March was a great example of this attitude.

I believe an Obama administration would also bring much-needed healing to our relations with the Muslim world, and hopefully diminish the anti-Muslim sentiment that has grown rapidly in America since 9/11. When we make terrorist jokes about Muslims, or when a country singer blares on about how “we’ll put a boot in their ass ‘cuz it’s the American way”, or when a presidential candidate makes a joke about bombing a Muslim country, this brings racial and ethnic bigotry from both sides to a greater level. It does nothing to promote reconciliation, and certainly doesn’t reflect the heart of Christ. I’m not so naïve as to think that Obama will single-handedly solve the problem of racism, but his attitudes and policies indicate a significant step in the right direction.

This is only a short list of faith priorities I’m basing my decision on, and there are many other reasons, faith-related and otherwise, why I’m voting for Barack Obama. I realize that my political views are different than those of many Christians, and that I might catch some flack from other Christians for supporting Obama. I do believe, however, that our differences in this area are very small compared to our common ground of a love for Christ, and I have nothing against those Christians whose faith leads them to check a different box in the voting booth. With that said, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and maybe even some of your faith priorities for this election.

Stay classy. :)

While I do believe that Jesus is my friend, I have to poke fun at this video.

The people in this video are absolutely serious.  And I have never seen better punctuation out of a lead singer.

If you want to see more like this, visit this post.