Essay:Christian First, Conservative Second
This essay is an original work by Benp. Please comment only on the talk page.
I'm troubled by something.
In the wake of the news that Senator Kennedy is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor, I have been drifting between my usual haunts on various political discussion forums. Some of what I have seen, frankly, sickens me.
I have seen people crowing over this as a "victory." I have seen people applauding this man's suffering as "what he deserves." I've seen betting pools on how long it will be before this tumor kills him.
It's at times like these that I'm reminded that "conservative" and "Christian" are not always synonymous. Some of the people making those comments are the usual trolls one finds on any board. Some, though, are rock-ribbed conservatives; I've known them through online correspondence for a long time, and I know their positions on most issues. On fiscal matters, we see eye to eye; on the subject of smaller government and strict constructionism, we are in perfect agreement.
On the matter of whether or not it's appropriate to take delight in another human being's suffering, though, we're miles apart.
Let's be very clear: I don't like Senator Kennedy as a person. I don't approve of much of his conduct, and I certainly don't approve of his positions. As a matter of personal opinion, I believe that there are a lot of questions he should have been required to answer about the fatal car accident he caused; as a matter of faith, I believe that he will ultimately be held accountable for those answers. Had he lost his seat in the Senate, I certainly would have been happy to hear it.
Should I be happy with the news that he has a brain tumor, then? I truly don't believe so. Yes, Kennedy is not someone of whom I'm ever really going to approve. That doesn't mean it isn't my duty as a Christian to pray for him. Yes, I think he's done bad things. As I see it, that means he's even more in need of prayers.
Christ gave us a very hard road to follow when he said that the second commandment was "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." He didn't give us wiggle room; he didn't give us exceptions. He didn't say "Thou shalt love thy neighbors who don't sin very much." He didn't say "Thou shalt love thy neighbors who share thy principles and morals."
I'm not going to pretend that it's easy to find that kind of compassion in my heart for a man I personally find so unlikable. It would be much easier to harden my heart against him and shrug off his plight...to reject the man along with his sins.
It would be easier, but it wouldn't be right.