Our Changing Nation

In the 2012 presidential election, I was really hoping to be a good voter. I watched the debates and read the articles, trying to get a sense of the men running for president. I didn’t agree with all of Governor Romney’s positions, but for the most part I thought he was a strong leader and a good candidate, especially given our nation’s economic problems. I particularly liked Paul Ryan.

As Election Day approached I knew the race would be close, but I thought Governor Romney could pull it off. Given the high unemployment, general dislike for universal health care, an unpopular financial bailout, a 14-trillion dollar deficit, and not having really accomplished much in his first term, how could President Obama win with all the general unrest I felt in the nation?

But he did.

In the days since November 6th, the reasons why he won are slowly dawning on me. This election proved the issues weren’t about economy, unemployment, or results. This election was really about the ethnicity and character of a nation.

Ethnicity

A look at exit polls reveals something startling in the ethnicity of who voted for which candiate. NBC reported:

[The Obama campain] carried a whopping 93% of black voters[…] 71% of Latinos[…] and also 73% of Asians[…] What’s more, despite all the predictions that youth turnout would be down, voters 18-29 made up 19% of last night’s voting population[…] and President Obama took 60% from that group.

In contrast, NBC states that “89% of all votes Mitt Romney won[…] came from whites.”

As Kyle Baxter points out, “The GOP has tied itself to whites—specifically, older, male, evangelical whites”. But America is changing. The New York Times reported in May that “White births are no longer a majority in the United States.” With that shift, the Republican party is now fighting for votes it never needed to have.

You can clearly see the shift when you look at the 2012 electoral mapWhen I saw this on Election Day, the layout of the states immediately stuck out to me. Governor Romney took nearly all of the middle portion of the U.S., while President Obama took nearly all of the coastal states. If we generalize, we could say that the mid-continental states are predominantly white farmer communities, while the coastal states are bustling centers of immigration and young people.

But why can’t the Republican party seem to capture the votes of these emerging demographics? This, I believe, comes down to something that transcends ethnicity.

The Character of a Nation

The day after the election, David Simon, creator of the HBO show The Wire, wrote:

I was on an airplane last night as the election was decided. As the plane landed after midnight on the East Coast, I confess that my hand was shaking as I turned on my phone for the news. I did not want to see dishonesty and divisiveness and raw political hackery rewarded […] But the country is changing. And this may be the last election in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear, of the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies, of self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals.

There is a fundamental shift happening in the worldview of the United States. Evangelicalism is declining, opening the door for a more liberal approach to life. Biblical doctrines are being seen as quaint and outdated, and a new generation, which is experiencing a global connection unlike any in the past thanks to the Internet, is deciding they want to be more inclusive. People in Africa or the Middle East live a certain way and we accept them, so why shouldn’t we accept different views in our own nation?

Thus, three states approved gay marriage amendments, several openly gay politicians were elected, and a pro-choice, pro-gay president was re-elected. Further, people like Baxter and Simon are saying, “The current GOP is wrong politically and wrong morally. We must re-make it.”

“Wrong morally.” This isn’t just about thinking one candidate’s policies are better than the other. The very nature of how American citizens see the world is changing. What used to be called biblical values is now being called, “the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies” and “self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals.”

Again from Simon:

[R]ight now, the conservative movement in America is fleeing from dramatic change that is certain and immutable. A man of color is president for the second time, and this happened despite a struggling economic climate and a national spirit of general discontent. He has been returned to office over the specific objections of the mass of white men. He has instead been re-elected by women, by people of color, by homosexuals, by people of varying religions or no religion whatsoever.

These words will not fall on deaf ears; Republicans, as much as any other political group, want to win votes and be in positions of power, and if it takes compromising on “core” values to get them, they will, because we are all human, and without Jesus biblical values are a convenience. As Baxter also wrote:

[W]ithout fixing these issues, the party doesn’t stand a chance. The first step is to change the party’s positions on the issues listed, and to call out the intolerant elements within the party who have gone untouched for too long.

How Then Shall We Live?

This is the first political post I’ve written on my blog. As the header states, my usual topics are “Creative Writing, Jesus, and Media”. So how does the election fit in?

At first I wasn’t sure if it would, but after thinking over the moral issue I realized it all comes down to my relationship with Jesus. The question I’m asking him is, “If my nation is continually walking away from what You say in the Bible, what do I do with my beliefs?”

An obvious answer is prayer. Regardless of my beliefs, President Obama has been re-elected as the leader of my nation, and I will honor him and pray for him. Also, despite the change happening to those around me, I really do believe that God can turn a nation back to him—not back to Republican values, but to him. How many times did Israel turn from the Lord, only to come back? (Of course, that usually involved captivity or occupation by another country, but that’s a topic for another day.)

But the real tension comes in every-day life. When I interact with homosexuals, or talk with parents who think it’s fine for their five-year old son to become a girl, or read articles like Simon’s that vehemently rejects biblical conservatism, or when I next go to vote, what will my actions be?

Do I say that I believe homosexuality is wrong, but that’s just a personal conviction and it’s okay for you to do what you want because we are a free country? Do I stop saying that abortion is wrong? Well, actually that argument I’m at least sure of; I don’t see how you can look at a ultrasound and not see it as life.

Huh. That last paragraph is interesting. The economy seems like an easy case of numbers, and foreign policy just an exercise in being nice to other nations and being careful where we send guns and bullets. But somehow the real fabric of America’s turmoil can be boiled down to the definition of love and life.  Jesus seems pretty clear on these issues—and more and more my homeland is walking away from them.

I’m not going to propose an answer, because in all honesty I don’t know what to do. Our nation is abandoning its Christian roots and I have no arguments against it except my belief in Jesus and his words. What do you do when your nation no longer recognizes that as an acceptable argument?

When you think about it, though, that’s what most of the world experiences. The United States of America is a rarity in history, and I wonder if it has caused us to become complacent in how we walk out our relationships with the Lord. Everyone seemed to go along with our beliefs, so we coasted by.

Now that we are truly confronted with the tension of being in the world but not of it, what will we do?

UPDATE: Daniel Lim, a teacher and missionary, spoke to the students of the International House of Prayer University, a ministry school in Kansas City, Missouri. He provides a clear, urgent answer to my question.

UPDATE 2: A few people have expressed concern that in my post I implied those who voted for President Obama are immoral and walking away from Jesus, and that I think very lowly of them. Regardless of varying opinions, I want to always honor and value you, the reader, and I sincerely apologize for coming across like that.

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17 thoughts on “Our Changing Nation

  1. Invisible Mikey

    Prayer is always a good first option. Getting closer to people outside your normal circle of association would be a good second. For one thing, many LGBT people are not “out” because it would endanger their jobs and possibly their lives. So, chances are you already know someone who may not feel safe being open with you about their orientation. But I think you are a good voter and would have been whether your candidates won or lost. You thought about your choice, and that counts most.

  2. Jacob

    You have some interesting thoughts on this subject Jesse.

    I disagree with you when you say this election wasn’t about the economy, unemployment, or results. It is completely understandable for you to not think Obama was doing a good enough job with those subjects, but there are many people who would disagree with you. For instance Ohio’s vote tilted toward Obama mostly because of his stance on the auto bailout that ended up bringing thousands of jobs to their state. We have also seen a steady lowering of unemployment in the last year and a half. Many say it hasn’t been growing fast enough and that most the improvement is just because people aren’t looking for jobs anymore. It is a difference of opinion and both sides I believe have valid arguments. You also need to factor in foreign policy, where nationally the majority of our country was much more favorable to Obama then Romney.

    When it comes to us rejecting “biblical conservatism” and thus in essence rejecting God, I run into a bigger problem with what you are saying. Our nation running away from ‘biblical conservatism” is not a new thing at all. Our “biblical conservative” beliefs once were used to subject hundreds of thousands into slavery. For a long time after that we used the Bible as proof that our “white race” was superior to the minorities coming into our country. It is still easy to argue that Christians think they are Superior to other religions just because of the fact that they think they will go to heaven while everyone else will go to Hell. We have also used biblical principles to stop woman from voting, to force them submit to abusive relationships, and to prevent them from contributing in many ways to our society. The Bible hasn’t changed since we held these beliefs, just our interpretation of it. There are millions, including me, who call themselves Christian and voted for Obama. I do not believe the Bible speaks against homosexuality. I, like you, am pro life, but I also think the conservative perspective, spearheaded by Romney this election, did not take in account many of the rights woman deserve to really make a just stance against abortion. Also today’s “pro life” candidates have less and less impact on me seeing that even after several Republican presidents little change has being made since Roe Vs.Wade passed.

    There are many things I believed Obama had more biblical stance on then Romney. I have seen a unbelievable dedication to family represented most vividly toward how Obama works and relates to his wife and tries to raise his kids. I have heard Obama bring up and talk about the importance of education far more then I have Romney. I also feel like Obama is more interested in the lower class and clean energy then the candidate he apposed. I assure you, we could find just as many verses talking about these subjects as we can verses talking about Homosexuality.

    All I am trying to say is just because some might be going away from stances on things like homosexuality and other “conservative issues” does not automatically mean they are going against their faith in Jesus or even the Bible. There are thousands of denominations of Christianity mostly because we don’t come to the same conclusions on what the Bible truly says and the context in which it was written. I like you want Jesus to be at the forefront of our nation. I believe both our main parties have a long ways to go to get there.

    This was one of the most striking parts of your article, “But somehow the real fabric of America’s turmoil can be boiled down to the definition of love and life. Jesus seems pretty clear on these issues—and more and more my homeland is walking away from them.”. I agree that our nations turmoil can be boiled down to the definition of love and life. However, I would also say you and I have completely different interpretations on what Jesus is “clear” about. I know you think your interpretation comes from a biblical perspective, the problem is that I believe mine does too. I probably would have said I thought our nation was walking away from them if Romney was elected. The solution? I think you bring up a good point when you say we need to keep on praying for this nation and it’s leaders. I also believe we need to really be open to other Christians and non-Christians perspectives. We need to walk that fine line between standing on our convictions and being open for God to change us.

  3. freetradeftw

    I would agree that our nation is drifting, but I think that both the conservatives and the liberals are drifting. The (largely) Christian right has started becoming more hard-line, and more definitive about no abortions, no gay marriage etc. While the liberals have become more accepting of that, and applying more pressure to others to accept, and condone it as well.

    I think that both of these are flawed. Jesus wouldn’t have cared so much about outlawing abortion as ending it. As the prohibition showed making something illegal isn’t the best way to get rid of it. I think that if we want to get rid of abortion it is far more about improving our society, first improving the moral and educational fabric so that these pregnancies (and the sexual encounters that create them) do not happen. The second would be to reduce the number of people in poverty to the point where they don’t think their child would have a shot in the world. Mothers who believe that they can raise their child are much less likely to get an abortion. Neither of those is easy, but those will be far more effective at preventing abortions, and that is a far more loving solution, and there can be no debate that Jesus was all about love.

    As to the liberal drift it has some advantages and some disadvantages, but I think that is partly because we have done a terrible job as Christians of communicating that it is about love. That inclusiveness is correct, Jesus ate with the sinners and tax collectors, and had prostitutes as His followers. I feel that it misses the corrective side of love. Simply accepting people without correcting the things that aren’t right will lead to a gradual decline into mediocrity. Too often we have tried, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to skip to the corrective love. No one will listen to you when you start off by telling them they are wrong.

    I would say that in everyday life we need to never compromise who we are, to say that we accept things that we don’t. If you see something the bible says is wrong ( and there will be some disagreements about that) then you have to continue to believe that. But far greater than that is the command to love. We must love those people, and do you point out to your family members and friends everything you don’t like about them? I don’t, but if it comes up I try not to shy away from it and address the issue. I would say that it is the same with other people, God didn’t call on us to attack these people, and it is His job to convict and change them, not ours. We are commanded to love, which will sometimes mean confronting, and often mean supporting and encouraging other activities, and offering assistance for other things.

    I applaud your statement of support for Obama when you clearly disagree with some of his stances. That is absolutely necessary for the country to move forward and start dealing with the issues that create some of the abortion problems.

  4. Travis

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. I appreciated it, so I wanted to respond with what I hope to be an equally thoughtful consideration of how I see some of the issues you raised. I must say, I think that Jacob nailed several of the critiques I would have offered, particularly of the frequent, unnuanced use of “Biblical” to lend authority to political opinions. While the Bible doesn’t change, this historian constantly insists that interpretation of it is always historical and culture-bound. For an interesting one-off book, you might check out Stephen R. Haynes, _Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery_, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2002. Biblical interpretation also turns on race and regional culture, a point best made (again, over slavery) by the great evangelical historians Mark A. Noll, _The Civil War as Theological Crisis_, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006).

    The other thing that strikes me as an historian of US history is your assumption that when the electoral results fall along ethnic, racial, and gender lines that they must not have anything to do with the economy. I would tend to disagree since economic politics are always raced and gendered. Here I’d cite David R. Roediger, _The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class_, (London; New York: Verso, 1991) for the early formation of whiteness as an economic and political category in the U.S. and George Lipsitz, _The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics_, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006) for the more recent period of transformation. The basic argument in Lipsitz’s book: less wealthy white people vote in defense of wealthier people’s class interests rather than their own because their apparent lack of race (since whiteness is usually imagined as the absence of race and of racial interests) because they believe in the possibility of achieving similar wealth one day themselves. White people can believe in aspirational politics, but the much more obvious systemic barriers that prevent racialized peoples from upward movement render that kind of voting absurd for non-whites, and so poorer racialized people tend to vote for liberal economic policies. So, when white people who aren’t rich vote for the maximum privileging of personal wealth even when it hurts their own economic interest, they do so because their racial designation lets them believe that they, too, can make it some day. So the ways in which different people imagine themselves in relationship to the economy is fundamentally tied to race, and so apparent race/gender (white men voted in a bloc, too) bloc voting can be just as much about the economy as voting along strict class lines.

    Whenever I have this conversation with people, and it is pretty often since I am an historian of the United States with a focus on religious history as well as a person of faith active in my church, at this point we usually arrive at abortion. Abortion is the issue that, when all else fails, keeps many evangelical Christians voting for the GOP. Really, though, that paints with a broad brush. Look at the exit polls here, even when you limit all the way down to people who go to church weekly, I’m pretty sure almost 40% of them voted for President Obama. What follows departs from the well researched historical work I cited above and turns to anecdotal suspicions that finally turned me against the GOP. The American religious historian Randall Balmer gave the 2008 Cole Lectures at Vanderbilt Divinity School (podcast here: http://discoverarchive.vanderbilt.edu/handle/1803/2286?show=full ) and in his second lecture he suggested that the GOP has no intention of doing anything about abortion because, as I just said, when all else fails evangelicals will vote for them regardless of any other issue because of this single moral imperative. But, as Ballmer shows pretty convincingly, the GOP had its chance during President Bush’s two terms when they held congress and had a sympathetic supreme court, but they did nothing. Their ongoing war on contraception suggests to me that they have no interest in even lowering the numbers of unwanted pregnancies, which I would think would be better than nothing. So I, like everyone else, abhor abortion and the conditions that would lead any woman to circumstances in which it might seem to be her best option. I believe that by giving women more control over their bodies and over their representation in the discourse of bodies, sex, morality, and reproduction, that we could take giant steps toward fixing this problem. What I cannot abide is the idea (and again, I have no definitive proof here) that for all of the GOPs rhetoric that does so much violence against women and their political and bodily interests, that the party seems more interested in exploiting this tragedy for political gain than they do in seeing it decline. A famous black thinker, who I cannot remember at the moment, once argued that as long as African Americans vote in a bloc for a single party, then no party has to take their concerns seriously. I fear that the assumption that Christians are almost all Republicans and conservatives–they are not now nor have they ever been, by the way–that neither party has to respond much to our concerns.

  5. Jacob

    Jesse I really need to say I am offended by the “urgent answer” in the video. I am offended that you, a friend and mentor of mine, has such a low opinion of me and all those other Christians who did not vote for the candidate who IHOP thought represented God more. Daniel Lim is not seeking out answers in this video. He is not encouraging you to think for yourself and equally way every factor the candidates brought to the table. He is telling you what to think and acting like he knows the heart of God. It saddens me. It saddens me because a “teacher” like that closes your mind off from listening to anyone who has a different perspective. I see in Daniel a self righteous perspective that stops him, and all that follow him, from really seeing the immoralities of this world. The video actually represents a big reason why I left the Church. I just am happy that my God is greater then the majority of conservative Christians who claim to know his heart so clearly that they could dictate what people are in His favor and those who are not.

  6. freetradeftw

    I would say that the guy who was speaking at IHOPU didn’t address the issue of this post very much. He was lamenting what he thought was the death of the moral majority. That is an idea which has merit, I think he may be right about it, but I don’t think it has much of anything to do with how an individual votes. Jesus wasn’t concerned with political power, if He was he would have been born a king and raised armies. But He was born a carpenter and stopped the people from crowning Him king. The fact that we Christianity is shrinking in America is terrible, and I don’t think that it is good that there are fewer Christians voting. But that is a symptom, not the problem. I am unconcerned with the amount of political power the church has. Jesus didn’t really care, why should we? What is a problem is that we are not communicating love well, and that has created problems for American Christianity. If we were actually living as Jesus lived a lot more people would be on our side. When we start judging and closing off from people we are everything that people leave church to get away from.

    Jacob how is he supposed to present a coherent argument without telling you what to think. Daniel believes in what he is saying, he has no responsibility to tell us to doubt him. If you fail to check what he says against what happens in your own life and what is in the bible then that is your failure as a listener. His job as a speaker, as a thinker, is to present his ideas to us. Our job as listeners is to decide if he is worth listening to, and what parts out of what he talks about are useful.

  7. Jacob

    Josh, Daniel’s job as a thinker is to encourage others to think. In this video he does not do this. He falsely implies that 96% of Americans under 28 are none Christian because they don’t go to Church. Half the Christians I know, including me, don’t go to Church and it is not because they don’t believe in or are angry with God. Jesse and Daniel are implying I am not a Christian and I am immoral because I voted for Obama. I don’t appreciate that, especially from a friend like Jesse. Daniel doesn’t even talk about how voting for Obama is immoral. Jesse only brings up two issues- abortion and homosexuality. Well there are MANY more issues you should put into the equation before you call this nation immoral or say it is turning away from God.

    As a teacher, which I believe Daniel claims to be, you should never tell someone what to think. A teachers job is to teach others how to think. In this video nothing seems to be up to interpretation of perspective. To Daniel, because people don’t go to Church they are not Christian and because people voted for Obama they are not Christian. All Daniel is doing is cementing his followers’ views in the perspective he has; he is giving no room for others to think in a different way. This my friends is dangerous and is one of the top reasons we see conservative building based Christianity having less and less impact on the world around us.

  8. freetradeftw

    I agree with you Jacob. I think Daniel does a terrible job in the video. He is very much drawing sides, implying very strongly that people who don’t go to church aren’t Christian, and people who aren’t Christian aren’t moral. I also suspect his data, it seems to me that well over 4% of people under 28 are Christian. I think he may have been intentionally defining Christian as particularly active Christians to make a point. My point is that you can still get good stuff from someone I disagree with on several of his major points. America is not as Christian as it once was. I think the emphasis he puts on the ability of a small group of spirit-filled prayerful believers to change the world is correct. I also agree with him that we can no longer count on simply hiding behind a “Moral Majority”. This nation is growing more diverse, both racially and religiously, we cannot do things the way that we used to. So while I disagree with about 60% of what he said, but the other 40% is valuable. If you can only listen to people who are 100% right, or even 90% right then you will have dramatically fewer opportunities to learn.

    Our disagreement centers on how we view the responsibilities of speakers and listeners. You place much more responsibility on the teacher to inspire thought. I place a lot more responsibility on them to present ideas. You see teachers as people who should inspire independent thought. I see teachers as people whose job is to expose us to new ideas we wouldn’t have come up with on our own.

  9. Jacob

    What new idea did Daniel express? I am sorry I just don’t believe he has said anything the people who he is talking to don’t already know and agree with and he basically excluded the rest of the people. We are under agreement when you say we need to listen to people who we disagree with. We are under agreement when you say there are some things Daniel says that are good to listen to. My problem is I grew up listening to them and I believe they are misleading. Prayer is a very complex thing. Daniel is encouraging a curtain kind of prayer that will bring about a curtain kind of outcome. He wants to see revival in the way those in 1906 did. Well those who prayed in 1906 didn’t know what the outcome of their prayers was going to be or going to look like. They just came to God to pray for his revival and because God came they were shunned by most Christians. This was similar to the situation of Jesus coming and changing the Jews whole religion and being shunned for it. All speakers present ideas, it is our job to determine whether those ideas encourage growth. In the video I believe Daniel’s ideas encourage his followers to see the world outside of themselves as corrupt and immoral. I am actually part of that world he is calling corrupt and immoral and I know many other good moral Christians and none Christians who are part of that world as well. Daniel won’t be able to help those people because he refuses to see them for who they are.

    For me this is not a question to whether or not Daniel’s comments and ideas can be used for good. I know they can, by both you, me, and others who don’t agree with him. My problems with what he says however outweigh the good and he actually sadly reflects the majority of conservative Christianity, including many of my friends, like Jesse for instance. How can they come to me and the rest of the world at an even level when they think so little of me?

  10. freetradeftw

    I agree with you Jacob. The only thing I disagree with is that just because he doesn’t have anything new to say doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. I go to lots of places where I know I will hear thing I already know, church, sports practices and school come to mind. It is vitally important that we remember the simple basic ideas of our faith, or education, or whatever. But other than that I agree with everything you said.

  11. Jacob

    Okay Josh, I do think we are running the risk of going in circles now but I think I need to address what you think we “disagree” with one more time.

    You are right, just because he doesn’t have anything new to say doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. What makes what Daniel says un-useful and in my opinion dangerous, is how he is encouraging the idea of looking at all those who don’t agree with him (about the election in this case) as evil and immoral. I will be the first to admit Daniel brings about some provoking ideas about how God moves and where this nation is going. However, those ideas are seeded with the deception that all those who voted for Obama are none Christian and going down a immoral path. Any good lie is made mostly out of truths. Daniel is right that the young and the minorities came out to vote. Daniel is right when he talks about our nation having crucial moral problem. Daniel is right when he says prayer movements can help change nations. However, Daniel is very much wrong when he draws a line in the sand and implies our immorality is because of those who are liberal and voted for Obama. I am frustrated with what Daniel said because his center point I believe is destructive and false. He wants “God” to change this nation. However, he worships a God who is only with those who voted a curtain way and who go to “Church”. He implies God is not with the young or the minorities. This is not the God I worship or the God I see in the Bible. Thus I am worried about how he thinks this God should “Change our nation”.

    God has given us the ability to learn from evil dictators and humble men of God. If I didn’t think we could learn from what Jesse or Daniel said I would not be wasting my time commenting now and I would defiantly not have posted this on Facebook. I think this post and the video reveals a truth about a good portion of what conservative Christians think. Jesse in my opinion was able to communicate it in a very clear and understanding way. I just need him and others to know what this seems to be saying about people like me and those who don’t see God like he does. My hope is that all sides could get something out of this even if they have heard the argument before.

  12. freetradeftw

    The difference between what we think is that in your mind Daniel has crossed line of having too much that isn’t useful. I set that bar much lower. I put most of the responsibility on the listener to extract what is useful. You hold speakers and thinkers to a much higher standard. Daniel is in the gap between us, you are just much more upset about the things that we disagree with him on.

  13. Jesse Koepke

    Jacob, I’m sorry for taking so long to reply. Your opinion does matter to me, and I really appreciate you taking the time to read my post and continue to respond. You’ve mentioned a number of things and I’ll try to respond without being too long-winded.

    Regarding economic issues, for me it comes down to a fundamental difference in how to approach a nation’s finances. My opinion is that we must reduce costs to lower the budget, whereas President Obama’s opinion is to get more income (through taxation). I don’t believe his ideas don’t address the issue that we are spending too much money.

    Regarding foreign policy, he takes a decidedly less aggressive position toward countries that go against American values, which is probably why they like him. While I agree we shouldn’t be the world’s police force and we often overstretch ourselves (that’s part of the reduce costs thing), I don’t believe we should back away from standing with other nations such as Israel, who are fighting tooth and nail for their existence.

    Now to the core of your comments. First, I apologize for sounding like I assumed those who voted for President Obama were walking away from Jesus. I also apologize for sounding like I have “such a low opinion” of you or that I think “so little” of you. That was absolutely not my intention. Regardless of difference of opinion, I always want you feel honored as a person and not deemed as low or stupid. It truly grieves me that I came across like that, and I deeply apologize.

    Briefly, regarding voting “for the candidate IHOP thought represented God more”, my decision or thoughts have in no way been dictated by IHOP. The leadership actually makes a distinct point to encourage students and attendees to search the scripture and decide for themselves. Daniel did not give that clarification in this instance most likely because he assumed the students held the same view as him since they are there at the school. But if any student disagreed, Daniel would not have inhibited him or her from thinking things through and deciding for themselves.

    Regarding ‘biblical conservatism’, I agree that it is a difference of definition. It’s kind of like I and Daniel are saying, ‘These are the values I grew up with and I believe they are right!’ and you at the same time are saying, ‘Those values are a bit off and I think we should go this way!’

    So what do we do at this crossroads? You could state your points and I could argue mine. I could say that yes, previous generations were way off with slavery and suppression of women, but that no, I believe the Bible actually does make clear statements against homosexuality and about life in the womb—and also caring for the poor and sick, which as you point out a lot of evangelicals ignore in their fervor for more obvious issues. But given the limited space of blog comments and the lack of direct communication, I’m not sure if here is the best place to get into that point-by-point discussion. If you would like to have that discussion, let me know and we’ll work out a time and place to talk.

    In a way, just as the thoughts in my post “represents the big reason why [you] left the Church”, likewise you and Josh illustrate my point, that the current generation is moving away from traditional biblical values. Though I absolutely value you both as people and want to honor you, I believe that move is a bad thing—for you as individuals and our nation as a whole. And my blog post was really about how do I as an individual handle that change. Do I change what I believe? Do I storm out and condemn you? Do I leave the country for Canada? My interaction with you is exactly the question I asked of myself in the blog post. What do I do when the people around me believe differently than I do?

    I’m still wrestling with that question. The one thing I do know to do is to humbly submit myself and my opinions to the Lord. When someone disagrees with me, it’s an opportunity to look at what I believe and really see why I believe them. You objecting to my view on homosexuality caused me to examine why I have them, both biblically and rationally. And if there are points where your comments offend me, it is most certainly an opportunity for me to ask the Lord why it offended me and let him search my heart and point out if (and likely where) I’m off.

    To sum it all up, I apologize for sounding like I don’t value you as a person. I also apologize for making any generalizations that didn’t take in consideration the individual. I sincerely value you, your friendship, and your opinion. I do believe the choices of our nation represent a move away from the biblical values I hold to be true, but in the midst of voicing my opinion I want to make sure you are not torn down or devalued, because that would totally defeat the purpose.

    Thanks for reading this long response, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. If you’d like to continue the conversation in a more in-depth way, let me know and we’ll figure out a good environment in which to do so.

  14. Jacob

    First of all thank you Jesse for the reply. I think the thing both of us can agree on is we write these types of posts and go through these discussions in order to strive for a better understanding of God and his plan for us. Although I do not think I went too far in the specific things I have said, there have been times in this thread where I have chosen to speak rather then listen, and it is one of the reasons I have taken some time before replying to your latest comment.

    I appreciate you given me some brief reasons why you thought Romney had a better view when it came to our foreign policy and economy then Obama. I was never trying to get into a “who had better policies?” debate with you. My problem came when you said, “This election proved the issues weren’t about economy, unemployment, or results”. All three of these issues you say this election wasn’t about, were big factors for me when choosing the candidate I wanted for office. No matter whether we disagree on who was better with these issues, it was still a big part of what this election was about.

    My main focus when figuring out who to vote for, was who best represented God. In this post you claimed our nation seemed to be turning away from God because of two main issues, homosexuality and abortion. This seems like a very limited perspective to come from even if the traditional conservative view of the Bible is your main source. The Bible spends just as much time talking about the importance of helping the poor, the sick, and the homeless. It talks about the importance of taking care of this earth and caring for your neighbors interests as much as your own. If you want to point to the nation going down the wrong path there should be much more taken into consideration, don’t you think? Even with something like abortion, the Republicans public stance is “they are against it” however what was the last thing a Republican president did to change the nations stance on the subject?

    In regards to what Daniel said. Daniel seems to draw the line quite clearly. He doesn’t have the ability to dictate who you vote for, seeing it’s the students who are the main financers of the school. But your comment on how he just assumed the majority held the same views he had, suggests there is a very clear expectation on what IHOP students are supposed to think in regards to the results of the election.

    I know your intention Jesse was not to offend me. In the last month, since Obama took election, I have seen several very negative comments about how ungodly it was to elect Obama again and how destructive my decision was to the future of this nation. The thing that intrigued me about your post was how it seemed to be more of a self reflection then a condemnation towards those who didn’t vote the same way you did. Your post in my opinion was a good way to start a conversation on why you think the way you do and why I for example think differently. It confuses me when you say you are not interested in discussing something like this on your blog because of it’s “limited space”. It seems on this blog we have infinite space to discuss. I understand the argument that these discussion can suffer due to a lack of direct communication, however I can point out many examples of great authors and figures in history who actually had deep conversation through text, because they found themselves great distances apart (Tolkien and Lewis is one example that comes to mind). Something you are able to do in writing that you are not able to do face to face is take considerable amounts of time to reflect on the specifics of what someone said before replying. There is a time where we need to be willing to admit our differences and leave it at that, rather then going in circles. Maybe you feel we have gotten there already.

    Thank you again for your comment Jesse. I would be interested in sitting down and talking whenever you find yourself in Montana again. I know we have very different perspectives on faith and God. My hope is we can always respect each others views if not find agreement. This is something easier said then done.

  15. Jesse Koepke

    Thanks for the reply, Jacob. The reason I suggested not getting into a big discussion here was exactly because of how you described it when you said, “I was never trying to get into a ‘who had better policies?’ debate”. When I replied to your initial comment I could feel the pull to battle back with point-by-point arguments, but that felt like a distraction from the main point of my post, which was the change in the nation’s worldview, rather than an analysis or debate of specific issues.

    Regarding those issues, I can definitely see how my comments on homosexuality and abortion seem like those are the only issues I thought were important. I had a feeling as I wrote that section that it would seem like I was only arguing the ordinary Christian topics, but at the time I couldn’t think of other examples. You are absolutely right when you say, “If you want to point to the nation going down the wrong path there should be much more taken into consideration”. However, those two issues are to me representative of a deeper idealogical change in the United States, which is why I focused on them.

    A quick note on Daniel, by means of explaining my post. When I wrote it, I was writing my thoughts both for myself and friends who I felt were also wrestling with how to respond to the election results. (A few of them thanked me for writing the post, actually.) Because they were my target audience, I didn’t give all of the clarifications I normally would give if I had been writing more broadly. I should have assumed others would read the post, since I’m writing on the internet after all and posting it to Facebook, and at least added a small point clarifying things. I think that same thing happened with Daniel.

    I’ll be back in Montana in March for Calvin’s wedding and I would love to grab coffee or something. Thanks again for caring enough to stay engaged with this blog post for so long.

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