I have no idea who I’m going to vote for in November.
I mean, should he win his party’s nomination, I obviously won’t be voting for Donald Trump because I have a soul and I believe in things like human decency and the crazy notion that racism and bigotry aren’t virtues to be embraced.
I also definitely won’t be voting for Trump-lite either.
I’m talking about Ted Cruz, the man who just can’t bring himself to say a bad word about The Donald™….probably because he seems to believe almost all of the same things Trump does.
Unfortunately, like most of America, I have a hard-time turning away when either of these guys speak because the words that come out of their mouths are so incredibly mind-bottling. True, Trump is the undisputed high king of absurdity, but more and more, Ted Cruz (and, let’s be honest, most of the Republican presidential field) is giving The Donald™ a run for his money.
Case in point: recent comments Cruz made about the Bible.
A book, I’m increasingly less convinced he’s actually read.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. His dad was/is a pastor and he’s a Christian. Surely, Ted has read a least some of it at some point in his life, right?
Maybe…and maybe not.
Here’s what Cruz said to the American Family Association that causes my doubt…
“If you fear God, you obey God’s precepts,” he said. “For example, you defend the sanctity of life. But beyond the moral code, that means you live a life of integrity, honesty, hard work, individual responsibility, the rule of law, and yes, free enterprise and limited government. The Bible has a lot to say about all those.”
Where to begin?
There’s so much irony and nonsense in there, it’s hard to know where to start. Ugh. Decisions, decisions. Ok, let’s start with his first claim.
On its own, it’s a fairly innocuous statement. But coming from a politician like Cruz, it’s laughable and the height of hypocrisy.
For example, one of God’s precepts – actually “one” is an understatement as it’s repeated over and over and over again in one way or another throughout the Old Testament – is found in Exodus 22:21, “You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.” Another one of God’s precepts can be found in Matthew 5:43-44. You’ve probably heard it before, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
There are far too many examples of the irony at play here, so I’ll just list a few. In November, Sen. Cruz announced he would be introducing legislation banning Syrian refugees from finding shelter in the United States. Also in November, Cruz declared it’s cool if some Syrian refugees come here, but only if they’re Christian. This week, Cruz called for a national harassment of refugees already in the United States to determine whether or not they have ties to radical Islamic terrorists. And let’s not forget the experiment Cruz proposed last month in which he wanted to carpet bomb the Middle East in order to see if sand glows in the dark.
Clearly treating foreigners well and loving your enemies are divine precepts Ted Cruz either isn’t familiar with or simply doesn’t care about.
Oh and I almost forgot. There’s also that precept in the Ten Commandments about not bearing false witness. Apparently, Cruz missed that one too when lied to his constituents by telling them that President Obama’s recent executive order was an effort to take their guns away. It’s not.
What about his claim that there is a divine/biblical call to “defend the sanctify of life”? Would you believe there’s not actually a lot of biblical support for that? Well, if you’ve actually read the Bible you would. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that you can find the language in scripture to support arguing for the sanctity of human life. You certainly can. It’s just that the Bible is filled with story after story after story in which human life doesn’t seem to be all that important. Like, the entire conquest of the Promised Land, for example. Untold thousands of people are wiped out in that endeavor – including and explicitly counting countless women and children – who were just minding their own business when one day God’s holy warriors showed up and killed them all. Oh, and speaking of precepts, there’s that precept in Deuteronomy 21 about stoning bratty children to death. Not really a law you would pass in support of the sanctity of human life.
Look, I’m no fan of abortion, but if you’re looking for a sanctified rallying cry for the sanctity of life, believe it or not the Bible probably isn’t the best place to turn. (Try the Didache instead) Of course, this is something Cruz would be aware of if he had actually taken the time to read them Bible instead of simply appealing to it whenever he wanted to sanctify his political position.
Now, to be fair, Ted doesn’t just harp on God’s precepts. He also looks “beyond” that. So, let’s examine those claims too.
According to Cruz, we should “live a life of integrity.” I totally agree. And so does the Bible! Too bad, Ted’s not a big proponent of living what you preach.
Cruz also says hard work is part of following God. A bit Calvinist for me, to be honest, but I guess it depends on what exactly that work is. If it’s in regards to something like caring for the poor, then yay hard work! But if it’s let’s work as hard as we can to get as rich as we can (i.e. Team Capitalism), I’m not sure how biblical that actually is. Since Cruz isn’t particularly clear here, I’ll let this one slide.
But I can’t turn a blind eye to Ted adding “individual responsibility” to his list of Christian virtues. It’s hard to know where to begin with this one. I know evangelicals love the idea of individual responsibility because without it, the whole asking Jesus into your heart or you go to hell thing kind of falls apart. And politically conservative evangelicals love individual responsibility even more because it sanctifies the idea that we have no collective responsibility towards our neighbors in need.
But, as The Donald™ might say, the Bible, well the Bible isn’t huge on individual responsibility. Or at least not as huge as Cruz seems to believe.
That’s not to say individuals are never held accountable for their actions in the Bible. Of course they are. But throughout the Old Testament we see Israel as a whole being blessed and punished – even when it’s due to the actions (or inaction) of a few. And even in the New Testament, not only is Israel still being treated collectively, we see entire households “come to Jesus” together and the Church being held responsible collectively for her actions/inaction, just like Israel.
It’s a bit of nuance to be sure, but still. It’s important nuance as it’s an important missing important biblical virtue Cruz would recognize as missing…if he had actually read the Bible.
Next up: “the rule of law.”
Our first hint that Ted may have actually read the Bible! Or at least some of it. The Old Testament is definitely all about the people of God following the Law. But then there’s the New Testament and that pesky Paul fellow who said something about no longer being under the Law, but under grace. Obviously, that doesn’t mean Christians are free to break the law of the land whenever we please. But such a radical shift if the Bible’s position on the rule of law (to say nothing of what the law(s) the Bible considers to be of greatest importance) should give Cruz some pause in his compassionless crusade to uphold the law.
Finally, we come to it.
The moment when Ted Cruz just says “screw it” to any pretense that he’s actually citing biblical virtue and not simply sanctifying Republican ideology.
“…and yes, free enterprise and limited government. The Bible has a lot to say about all those.”
Ahh, yes. Free enterprise and limited government. The Bible is such big, big fans of both. I mean, it just can’t stop talking about free enterprise and limited government it loves them so much.
You know, like how the Old Testament devotes so much time listing off law after law after law dictating how the people of God can conduct their business, when they can conduct their business (spoiler alert: not on the sabbath), and the limits placed on that business to ensure the poor and, gasp, foreigners are cared for. Then you get to the early Church in the New Testament. Their selling everything they have and sharing it in common porto-communism just screams “God loves free enterprise!” And that’s not to mention Jesus calling on his followers to sell everything they have and give it to the poor. Nothing says God loves free enterprise more clearly than the Son of God telling people what to do with their money.
And limited government? You won’t find a bigger fan of limited government than the Old Testament, what with its long line of divinely appointed absolute monarchs. And once again, there’s the Law. I can’t think of a more limited government than a theocracy with 613 laws dictating everything from what you can eat to what you can wear to what religion you must follow (and how you must follow it). Sure, the New Testament replaces those absolute monarchs with King Jesus, but Paul is clear that all government is ordained by God and the government he knew best was the empire he was a citizen of.
And what is an empire if not the quintessential example of limited government, right?
Ok sure, one quote doesn’t prove Ted Cruz has never read the Bible. It’s more that this quote so succinctly captures his religio-political ideology that, coupled with a long history of biblically dubious actions and statements, I have a hard time believing Ted Cruz is particularly familiar with the Bible.
When I take my tongue out of my cheek, I can admit he probably has read the Bible at least once in his life. Probably more than that.
The issue at hand is really more about the way he talks about the Bible and the fact that so many of the actions he calls for are so utterly-antithetical to the Bible – and the way of Jesus, in particular – that it almost makes me think he’s just trying to manipulate a base of voters – conservative evangelicals – into voting for him because he’s one of them.
Because he’s the biblically faithful candidate.
But a politician would never mislead and pander to a particular demographic just for votes, right?
UPDATE: So, apparently I owe apologies to Ted. While I stil have deep doubts about his biblical competency based on everything else I linked to in this article (among other things), the article I linked to at the top in which Cruz positions himself as the biblical candidate transitions towards the end to reference his father Raphel who gave the quote I dissected, not Ted. So my apologies to Ted. The article should be titled “Have Ted And Raphel Cruz Ever Actually Read The Bible?”