Moving Past Polarization: The American Solidarity Party

If you’ve read my post on Trump from a little while ago, or especially if you’ve followed me on Facebook, you know that I am very unhappy with the state of American politics. The offerings our two major parties are giving us for the Presidency are each quite awful enough, and yet it is even more frightening to realize that this merely reflects the awkward combined state of each party’s establishment and normal voters. There is a direct correspondence between the infantile rhetoric of our candidates and the infantile rhetoric of their supporters. This year more than most, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, hate each other and cannot agree on anything. And, to our shame, too many Christians are simply taking one of these sides and towing their party lines. And, to even greater shame, too many Christians are willing to participate in the same polarization, name-calling, hate, yelling, straw men, and impropriety which characterize normal partisan politics.

This is, of course, an antichrist way to do politics, and it must be rejected. Christians cannot wed themselves to the political philosophies and powers of this age to act and think on only their terms. Christianity is not Republican or Democrat. Jesus is not a modern conservative, a classical liberal, a modern progressive, or anything else along those lines. He never promoted, endorsed, and created any system like capitalism, democracy, communism, authoritarianism, republicanism, libertarianism, or socialism. He is the being, the very nature and existence, of the Church, and the members of the Church are thus not free to bind themselves to any of these things.

None of this is to say that Christians can’t work with or align ourselves with any political party or candidates. We are certainly allowed to do so. But we cannot let them set our agendas, beliefs, or our vision of human freedom and flourishing. We must stand on our own, Christian, Scripture-informed principles and beliefs without giving a single inch of authority to the parties or movements we ally with in this age. They have no authority over us, but only Christ does. We may find them as useful partners in advancing the causes we believe must be advanced, but we must not be misled into advancing their own unique causes under the banner of Christ.

This brings me back to this election. I am (quite strongly) of the opinion that both the Democratic and the Republican parties have proved themselves entirely worthless as allies or partners for Christian political efforts. Democrats have, among other things, made themselves allies and servants of Death by fully adopting the cause of abortion. This is an unforgivable sin. The Republican Party has also nominated Donald Trump as their Presidential candidate, something which I think is (or should be) a major problem for Christians. But even apart from Trump, the party is splitting into useless factions, one very rich part towards social liberalism, another towards authoritarianism, and others still in many directions.

So where do Christians turn? No doubt, many will be willing to compromise with the two awful dominant parties still, some in good conscience and some out of fear or partisan desperation. My suggestion, though, which has caught my eye in the past couple of months, is the American Solidarity Party. If you haven’t heard of them, bear in mind that I have no delusions that they will be winning national elections, at least in anything like the near future. But at the local level, any party can make something of a difference with enough hard work. And even with our national elections, I believe being able to vote consistently with conscience is not only morally preferable but also has, over time, the capacity to influence things.

So what is the American Solidarity Party? I will be doing some more blogging on them to elaborate, but as an introduction, they are a Christian Democratic party. They are socially conservative, taking strong positions in favor of life, marriage, and family. They are also economically distributist, an intentional third way against capitalism and socialism which favors small business, local markets and governments, and private property for the common man. Their motto is “Common good. Common ground. Common sense.” Their policies are very centrist: both ideological leftists and right-wingers will probably chafe at some of their policies and love some others. People who have wedded all of their political thought to the Democrats or the Republicans will not like them at all.

But for those who are willing to keep an open mind, I think the ASP has a great deal of value, and there is a lot that they stand for which I believe is truly Christian. I’m not saying every Christian will or should agree with everything in the ASP platform. Even Spirit-filled believers can disagree on what policies are the best. I’m not sold on a handful of their policies. But I think the ASP is the best option we have at the moment, both in having overall the best policies and having the best goal: a Christian approach to our pressing political problems. In future posts I will elaborate and summarize some thoughts on their platform.

Moving Past Polarization: The American Solidarity Party

Liberty Doesn’t Automatically Mean Gay Marriage

Does religious freedom equal gay marriage? Some people think so. I didn’t want to say anything else about gay marriage any time soon at this point. I feel that, for the most part, more than enough has been said on each side in the last three days. But watching Facebook (and a few other places), there has been this particular idea which I think deserves a response from a blog like mine (i.e. a blog which mostly reaches a few common folk the author knows).

See, some Christians have been suggesting that, even though they agree that homosexuality is wrong, the SCOTUS decision is still a win for liberty. After all, we have religious freedom here. So if gay marriage is only wrong from a Christian point of view, shouldn’t the government still allow it for people in general? Wouldn’t restricting marriage to a Christian view violate the religious liberty which Christians so enjoy? We don’t want the government forcing people to worship Jesus, so why should we want them forcing people to respect a Christian view of marriage?

I think there are a few problems with such an argument. The first is that it assumes something about marriage which should not be assumed, namely that it is something which can apply to both homosexual and heterosexual couples. It assumes that it means something for a male to “marry” another male, for example. Yet this cannot be a given. Someone must first question what marriage actually is and is about before we can assume that it makes sense to speak of two men or two women as married. An an analogy, we know we cannot speak of men as pregnant. Nothing a man can experience counts as pregnancy. If the government wished to pass a law which allowed some kind of male circumstance to be legally recognized as pregnancy, it would be absurd and everyone would know it. I suggest we should think twice before assuming that marriage does not work in a similar way when it comes to different or same-sex relationships.

Secondly, we have to ask, “Why does the government recognize marriage?” After all, most people still would think you can be in some way married even if there is no government. Marriage has a legal side and another side. So why is there a legal side? Once we ask that question, we can compare the answers to see if it even makes sense for government to recognize “marriage” in same-sex relationships. These days, people tend to assume that marriage is about nothing more than twue wuv and personal fulfillment. There is no significant reason for a government to care about such a union whether gay or straight. Legal marriage, if love is all marriage is about, has no purpose. But if there are other important matters which it makes sense for the government to support by recognizing marriage and giving it legal benefits, then we have to ask whether they apply equally to gay and straight couples.

As well, from a specifically Christian point of view, the original argument I’m countering smacks of Gnosticism. To say that marriage only needs to be heterosexual for religious reasons, but not in the rest of the world, is basically to say that what is right and designed by God has no important impact on the real world after all. We would be promoting a theology which separates God’s moral law from the way the real world works. Can we really say that homosexuality is only wrong for an arbitrary spiritual reason and has no tangible consequences? But if a Gnostic moral worldview is false, and homosexual unions are wrong, then we must admit that they do cause tangible problems. And if homosexual unions do cause tangible problems, then for the government to legally recognize and privilege them is for the government to promote what damages human society, which of course should not be done.

In fact, this all ties in to the silly idea that legally recognized marriages are a right. That’s simply wrong. To marry is a right, and the government must protect it, but the government is not obligated to legally recognize marriages and give them benefits. They have reasons to do so, but ultimately legal marriage constitutes a government privilege, not a right. If the government is to have legal marriages, they should do so because they have some vested interest in promoting marriage. And in that case, it is not a right they are dealing with. They are choosing to promote certain relationships for the benefit of society. This means that some form of discrimination is necessary, as not all relationships can serve that goal (certainly, for example, pedophilic, incestuous, or polygamous relationships we all agree do not serve that goal, and thus can be justly barred from government recognition). If we moved legal marriage from the category of “right” to “privilege,” where it belongs, then all of this nonsense about equality would be less powerful.

I may have rambled some, but I hope one point remains. As Christians, we do not need to agree that legalizing gay marriage is a good idea for the sake of religious liberty. There are various reasons that, religion aside, the definition of legal marriage can still in principle reasonably be restricted to heterosexual unions without violating any principles of religious freedom. The separation of church and state can still exist without gay marriage, and I daresay it should.

Liberty Doesn’t Automatically Mean Gay Marriage