Invoking the authority of the Bible, presidential hopeful John Kerry criticized “our present national leadership” on Sunday.
In a speech at a Baptist church in Missouri, Kerry said, “The Scriptures say, ‘What does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?’ When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?”
Before criticizing the Bush administration for not living up to the standards of the Bible, Kerry might want to take more time in reading the book. The first reference he should look at is Matthew 7:2-4: “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?”
It seems that Kerry has a number of “beams” in his eye.
First, Kerry is a strong supporter of the right for women to have abortions. His own archbishop, Sean O’Malley, said in January that Catholic politicians who support a woman’s right to an abortion “shouldn’t dare come to Communion.” Kerry’s belief on this subject goes against not only his own church’s teachings, but also against the Bible itself. In Exodus 21:22, it says that those who hurt a pregnant woman and cause her unborn child to be killed should be punished. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee …”
Second, Kerry believes that homosexuality is a legitimate lifestyle. Speaking to another group on March 7, Kerry was quoted by The New York Times as saying, “I’ve talked to many (homosexuals) who didn’t discover their own sexuality until they were 35, 40 years old, and it wasn’t because they made a choice, it was because they found out who they were. And I think you have to respect that that is the nature of it.”
And you can look at it, and argue it, but you know what, that’s irrelevant to the argument.
Again, the Bible differs with him on this subject as well. Romans 1:27 refers to homosexual acts as “unseemly” and 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 says, “Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites … will inherit the kingdom of God.”
The point is not about whether or not a person should use the Bible as a basis for their beliefs. The point is, if Sen. Kerry is going to use the Bible as justification for his political stances, he needs to be consistent.
So what about Kerry’s comments that President George W. Bush is not compassionate enough? It really depends on your definition of compassion. If you think forcibly taking money from one person and giving it to another is an act of compassion, then Bush is a Scrooge. But, that’s exactly what Kerry has in mind when he boasts of his “compassion.”
It comes down to a philosophical difference between the two candidates on how to help people. Kerry believes that forcibly redistributing income from one person to another through government action — principally the tax system — is an act of compassion. Bush doesn’t. Bush, like many other Christians, believes that acts of true compassion are done through the voluntary kindness of individuals, not through the collective enforcement of the federal government. He believes that through voluntary giving — charity donations, church tithes, etc. — true compassion is shown.
It’s not about whether or not to help the disadvantaged, it’s how to do it. After all, Jesus told one man in Matthew 19:21 to, “… go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” He didn’t say, “Go and makest thou a law that forceth a man to give that which he hast to the poor, and thou shalt have favor with liberals: and come and vote for John Kerry.”
Adam Fowler is a junior majoring in political science.