I Can't Vote Republican Because I'm a Christian

So long as personal responsibility is your platform, the Bible can't be your barometer.

As if I wasn't already convinced, last week's GOP debate reminded me why I won't be voting for a Republican in 2016. And not for the abnormally-coiffured misogyny you might expect. No, most every other candidate besides Donald Trump made it pretty clear that the Republican Party does not exemplify biblical values.

Of course, if you reduce biblical values to abortion and traditional marriage, then that couldn't be a more absurd statement. From Mike Huckabee accusing Planned Parenthood of "selling babies' body parts like the parts of a Buick" to Rand Paul declaring that he doesn't want his marriage "registered in Washington," it would seem that the GOP covered their bases on what God cares about.

Even Marco Rubio had the audacity to say, "God has blessed the Republican Party with some very good candidates. The Democrats can't even find one" (clever misdirection as there ever was). But I don't think a handful of social issues are enough to secure God's favor (as if that were possible) or fully represent his desires. Rather, I think the core values of a given ideology ought to be assessed.

For the Republican Party, one of their core values is personal responsibility. For example, Bobby Jindal said during that the debate that, "we've got to stop this culture of government dependency," in reference to the Affordable Care Act. But I can't help feeling that the Republican ideology creates a corporately irresponsible society that runs counter to Scripture.

Perhaps that sounds ignorant to a significant transition in the Old Testament:
The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.
Previously, God's people were accountable to him in a corporate sense, meaning that a parent was just as guilty of a child's sin as the child and vice versa. But when God spoke through the prophet, Ezekiel, he removed that corporate obligation and instead held the individual completely accountable.

This would seem to support the Republican aversion to government programs that they contend promote unnecessary dependence and laziness. Instead of expecting others to take care of them, individuals need to take personal responsibility for themselves to work hard enough so that they don't need to depend on others.

However, I think this perspective conflates personal accountability with personal responsibility. While it's true that we are held accountable to God for our own actions, he expects us to be responsible for each other.

James encourages us to take responsibility for the sins of others, the writer of Hebrews says that pastors are responsible for their flocks, and Paul told the Galatians that they were responsible for each other's burdens--just not accountable. The latter may have changed with the new covenant, but the former has always been the same, from Deuteronomy's injunction to freely give to the poor to James' reminder that true religion cares for those who can't help themselves.

That doesn't sound like the individualistic rhetoric we heard last week. And thank God for that.

In one of his parables about the kingdom of God, Jesus told his disciples about a vineyard owner who hired workers at different times of the day for the same wage. At the end of the day, he paid them all as they had agreed. But the workers who had been there the longest complained because their day's wage was equal to those who had only worked for an hour (they were probably Republicans).

As unfair as that vineyard owner seems, we have to remember that those last call workers are us. Speaking of the saints who died before Christ came, Hebrews says:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance... since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
None of us lived through the era of sacrifices--of the blood of bulls and goats and the daily fear of divine retribution for forgotten offerings. In a way, we never had to pay our dues. We came into the faith at the bottom of the 9th yet we still got championship rings. It's not fair. Grace never is.

So if individual merit is to be standard for society, then there's no room for grace in the Republican Party. Theirs is a society that operates on the ten commandments as God's final revelation without realizing that love fulfills all of them. It's a society still under the law, and a poor interpretation of it at that. And there just aren't enough social issues that reflect God's heart when the society as a whole doesn't represent his kingdom.