Friday, January 16, 2009

My Support for "Come Let Us Reason Together" Governing Agenda

Below is a transcript of the statement I gave at the "Come Let Us Reason Together" press conference at the Third Way headquarters in Washington, DC:

I support the "Come Let Us Reason Together" governing agenda put forth by Third Way because of my desire to see people of faith work across division of disagreement in the pursuit of common goals.

As a committed Southern Baptist, I know all too well the "culture war" mentality. It is a mentality that often speaks without listening, divides rather than unites and promotes destructive partisanship. At the same time, I am proud of the unwavering moral stances that conservative Christians, including Southern Baptists, have taken. We remain committed to important issues like traditional marriage and protecting life from conception. Yet, conservative Christians must also live out other tenets of our faith including compassion, charity, human dignity and the pursuit of peace. Therefore, I support this agenda because I am a Southern Baptist, not in spite of the fact.

We should maintain our convictions on those matters where conscience demands that we part ways. However, we must accept the promise that people of mutual goodwill can find shared values and goals. For far too long, we have allowed the common good to be sacrificed on the altar of our disagreements.

Two policies in the agenda have been at the center of some of the fiercest disagreements, but even here there is room to work together. First, while I support making abortion illegal, we must vigorously seek to reduce the number of abortions actually occurring. This includes supporting efforts to prevent unintended pregnancies, assisting pregnant women and new families, and supporting adoption. It is easy to call one's self "pro-life." The difficult thing is to put feet to our faith and begin working with real people in real communities to see that faith made tangible, and lives saved.

Second, I affirm the freedom of religious expression and the rights of religious institutions to have their values reflected in their hiring practices. But I can also support a policy that ensures that gays and lesbians receive equal treatment in the workplace. To me, scripture is clear that God's ideal is heterosexuality, but this policy gives conservative Christians an opportunity to affirm, rather than undermine, our claims to love our gay and lesbian neighbors.

I count myself a member of a group becoming known as "the younger evangelicals." We are a group who has turned away from self-serving partisanship, and we are a generation calling for a rapid infusion of civility and grace into a political culture where faith has often produced divisiveness. Today, Christ-followers spanning may generations hold hands in pursuit of the common good. May God bless our spirit of cooperation.

1 comment:

Duncan said...

Jonathan, thanks for this post. It's helpful to hear how you don't have to abandon your views to be able to look at traditional complex issues in a way that gives a different perspective. Hopefully this leads to a greater tendency towards conversation, and that through that we might all learn more. I like how this is a more inclusive but still challenging perspective - sort of what I've seen recently called the radical centre.