Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jesus's voting intentions

In the last couple of days, two remarkably silly articles have been posted by two remarkably silly Christians—each claiming that Jesus would vote for their respective parties. The first, by Andy Flannagan (who is something called a Christian Socialist), claims that Jesus might vote Labour in this General Election; the second, a fisking of the first by the sanctimonious Tim Montgomerie, claims that Jesus might, in fact, support the Tories.

Articles like this have always struck me as being utterly ridiculous. Although I am not a believer, like most middle-class children I suffered my fair share of religious teachings and it always seemed to me that Jesus was outside of Earthly politics: whenever presented with a political question, Jesus always tried to emphasise that such things were not important—he was concerned only with the soul of the individual.

Indeed, it is this point that my wife—who happens to be a Christian—has pointed out in her comprehensive post on the matter.
But Jesus was not a social worker. Jesus was, according to Christians, the Son of God, and according to most Christians, true God from true God, of one being with the Father. I would expect the Director of the Christian Socialist Movement to be at least as well versed in the theological tenets of Christianity as any Catholic child who goes to Mass regularly enough to have learned the Nicene Creed. Why is this relevant? Because Jesus’s teachings, whatever they may suggest to us about the proper ordering of human interaction, were ultimately eschatological: that is, concerned with the final outcomes of death, judgment, and the destiny of the human soul. His advice is to individuals: how to purify the soul in anticipation of meeting God. Actions, such as caring for the poor, working for one’s sustenance, and treating others as equals, are merely the outward manifestation of a genuinely held personal belief that the most sinless soul is the one that wishes only good, wishes no harm, and accepts God’s love as a gift given in spite of our imperfections, not because of our good works.

Good actions that are driven by the desire to perfect an earthly society, rather than the individual soul, are the hallmark of the non-Christian. I am not saying this is a bad thing; far from it, actually. But advocating good works for the sake of perfecting society is not a religious attitude, and Christianity is a religion, not a charity club. And the desire to perfect the soul before God is what differentiates a Christian from a nice person – and we all know the world is full of nice people who are not Christians.

So this characterisation of Jesus and Christianity as being focused on improving society actually strips both of their essentially religious nature. Doing good works is wonderful, because it makes life on earth liveable; but the distinguishing feature of Christianity is that of the perfection of the soul in preparation for death on earth; and each of us dies alone, and will face judgment alone in front of God, with Christ co-substantial and co-eternal at His right hand.

All of this would imply (to me, at least) that Jesus was, in fact, far closer to being a libertarian than either Tory or Socialist: in fact, more than this, Jesus was pretty much an Objectivist.

As Bella has said, the true Christian way is the perfection of one's own soul: one should do good works—helping those less fortunate than oneself or fulfilling the potential of one's God-given talents (or both)—because these are objectively good. And being objectively good, these action will contribute to the purification of your soul.

At the same time, those things that are objectively bad—theft, murder, sloth, etc.—will stain your soul and any Christian should avoid doing them. But since it is your own, personal soul that is in the balance, failing to realise your own potential is also bad—especially if that is achieved through bad means.

In other words, failing to be the very best that you can be—especially through cowardice or sloth—will count against your soul when it comes to judgement; Ayn Rand's Objectivist outlook praises those who make the most of their talents when those talents are used to create—a philosophy that Jesus would, I am sure, also approve of.

Similarly, Rand opined that one should only give to charity if this action had value to you, not simply because you had been asked for charity for such charity might actively harm the recipient (for a crude analysis of how this might happen, simply look at the marginal deduction rates on benefits—rates that incentivise people not to work and, thus, not to fulfill their potential).

This, too, chimes with the Christian route: you should give to charity because you wish to purify your own soul, because it has value to you, not simply because others are doing so. And to give charity when that action will harm the recipient will have no value at all, for it is the good outcomes that are measured in heaven, not your intention in the giving.

And, of course, to force people to "give" to charity under threat of violence is no virtue at all.

So, your humble Devil would submit that Jesus would vote for neither Labour nor Tories; indeed, he would not vote at all. Jesus might, however, be a fan of Ayn Rand.


Shug Niggurath said...

Thus proving that Jesus, taken as God, can be anything you want him to be.

Apart from a Devil, clearly.

Laurence Boyce said...

So the Devil has married a Christian. It's hard to see this ending well.

sconzey said...

Hah; quite. Jesus said to the rich man: "Take all that you have and give it to the poor," not "My friends and I will take big sticks, take all you have, and give it to the poor."

Furthermore; Jesus was an anarchist ;)

Anonymous said...

This is all moot and pointless. Jesus almost certainly never existed.

George said...

Jesus certainly existed, whether he was the son of God is debatable.

Dodgy Geezer said...

Why do I get the impression that Jesus would have seen it as completely irrelevant which way anyone voted? He would probably have said that you can be a good man as a libertarian, a communist or even an MP. Love seems to have been his (or Paul's) main message...

However, since his reported words were gathered together a few hundred years after his death, with the sole purpose of producing a religion which would weld together a disintegrating empire, I am not that surprised to find little in them which would rock the foundations of any earthly administration...

Sam Tarran said...

I would go even further: Jesus said, more or less, nothing about the real world. His kingdom is "not of this world", and most of the things he said are, in fact, impractical in this world of ours (eg., actually loving your neighbour as thyself is impossible). Hence why priests, reverends and the like should keep their noses very much out of politics at all times, and why smarmy "Christians" should take a long hard look at themselves before they even try and bring the 'Son of God' into a political debate.

Henry Crun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry Crun said...

Anon: 01:53, I suggest you read the historical works of Josephus.

With regards which way Jesus would vote, I suspect that were He to come in contact with the son of the manse, He would find Brown lukewarm and spit him from His mouth.

Tomrat said...


Amen brother; whilst looking for my favourite verse on the subject of Christian wives submitting to heathen husbands ( ;-) ) I found this illuminating article.


Would have to disagree; anarchism is the absense of leaders, whilst Christ most certainly believed in a supreme leader.

Henry Crun,


Anonymous said...

Gerard Casey
makes the case that Jesus was not just a libertarian, but an Austro libertarian. He then goes on to point out that Socialism and environmentalism are simply secular religions.

Tomrat said...

You might like this DK; if you read from those verses you'll realise why Solomon had hundreds of wives.

Debate of the day: Solomon was the forerunner of free market principles which made Israel an economic powerhouse, awash with Gold and Silver. Discuss.