A few disclaimers before I begin. First, my candidate didn’t make it past the primaries. As for which of the two viable candidates (yes, two. I may have some libertarian ideals, but they have no chance at this presidential election) I’m leaning towards, I think it makes little difference to this discussion.
CNN has an article regarding some things Dobson has said about Obama. Personally, it sounds to me like Dobson is raving. His arguments and jabs are half-baked at best. That works for Ice Cream, but not so much for logical discussion. I try to keep politics off of my blog. But I really can’t stand aside at this point.
First, Dobson criticizes Obama for saying that we can’t use the Bible as the sole document regarding how we govern. As evidence for this Obama puts forth Leviticus and Deuteronomy. To be sure these are some tired arguments. Obviously, a proper understanding of those two books makes them far less offensive than they might appear at first glance. But that is neither here nor there. Obama is right we can’t govern based solely on the Bible. Our world is not the Ancient Near East. It’s not even the modern middle east. Obama is also right when he says, “So before we get carried away, let’s read our Bible now. Folks haven’t been reading their Bible.”
Dobson’s response to this? According to CNN, “Dobson said Obama should not be referencing antiquated dietary codes and passages from the Old Testament that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament.” Now, this isn’t a direct quote. So one must be careful. But I really, really hope that Dobson didn’t say anything remotely close to “[certain Old Testament books] are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament.” If that’s the case then I don’t think it is Obama who has no clue about how to read and interpret the Bible. CNN also reports that Dobson said the following (direct quote): “‘I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology,’ Dobson said, later adding that Obama is “dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.'” Again, I don’t think Dobson has any clue here, nor does he have any business being the arbiter of what is or isn’t “biblical understanding” or “confused theology.”
CNN reports that Obama also asked a, in my view, legitimate question concerning what brand of Christianity one might govern by. In this case the Senator from Illinois actually mentions Dobson, “Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s?” I think that is exactly the issue. Now, of course, Focus on the Family came back with some argument that Obama was calling Dobson a racist. I don’t think that’s what Obama was doing at all. I think he was legitimately pointing out that we have Dobson on one extreme and Sharpton on another, and they will probably never agree on which brand of Christianity should be taught in schools, or which brand should be used to determine policy. He wasn’t comparing the two of them, he was contrasting the two of them. It’s a common practice, in rhetoric.
The solution? Christianity should stay out of politics and instead focus on helping the poor, blind and lame. After all, what could be more pleasing to God than taking care of widows and orphans? I hardly agree with everything Obama has ever said about faith, but I certainly find myself agreeing more with him than the self-appointed arbiter of Evangelicalism.