Friday, October 7, 2016

Divorced Devotion

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence both claim to be devout Christians.  

Both were brought up Catholic.

Tim Kaine says, “he wouldn’t allow his religious beliefs to interfere” when it comes to his politics. “I try to practice my religion in a very devout way and follow the teachings of my church in my own personal life. But…”  

Do you know what “but” means?  It means that everything that was said before the word “but” is negated by what comes after.

Mike Pence says, “…my Christian faith became real for me when I made a personal decision for Christ when I was a freshman in college. And I've tried to live that out however imperfectly every day of my life since. … for me, my faith informs my life.”

I didn’t make this up, I took them from a report of the debate in the LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-vp-debate-transcript-kaine-pence-20161004-snap-htmlstory.html).

I went to the dictionary (dictionary.com) to look up the word “devout.”  Here is what I found.
1. devoted to divine worship or service; pious; religious:
2. expressing devotion or piety:
3. earnest or sincere; hearty:

The question I have for you is how can a person claim to be devout, and then divorce your behaviors and politics from your religion?

I guess under definition #2 both men could qualify, since expressing devotion or piety meets the definition of being devout.  However, for most people simply expressing piety while actually behaving in an impious manner qualifies as hypocrisy.  So, let’s eliminate that as a workable definition here.

Earnest or sincere, definition #3 is a good working definition.  We all hope both men are earnest and sincere.  The alternative that one or both men are insincere is not something we want to consider in candidates for the second highest position in the most powerful country in the world.  But, the context for these quotes was their belief in god, not their sincerity.

That leaves us with both candidates describing themselves as devoted to divine worship, pious, or religious. In this case, since both are self-proclaimed Christians, that means they were both painting themselves as being devoted to Christ.

Mr. Pence on the one hand allows his faith to inform his life.  Implicitly this means all aspects of his life, including his politics.  On the other hand, Mr. Kaine keeps his devotion divorced from his politics.

I believe it is this divorced devotion that is at the heart of what is ailing our nation, and our politics.
The notion that you can be one person in private and another person in public is one of the biggest lies anyone has ever swallowed.  The Bible says that no one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will love the one and hate the other. Trying to live your life with two personas, each with their own distinct and widely divergent guiding principles is not only a recipe for multiple personality disorder, it is also the very foundation of the notion of being hypocritical.

In case you missed it, here is the definition of a hypocrite:
1.  a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
2.  a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

So, if Tim Kaine is privately devout and publicly debauched, he is a hypocrite.  If he privately values the sanctity of human life and publicly supports practices like partial birth abortion, then he is a hypocrite.  Which also means that he is not devout under any but one of the definitions above.  I give you a hint which one – he isn’t sincere or earnest and he isn’t devoted to Christ.  He merely expresses piety and devotion – it doesn’t inform his public life.

And this is the heart of the malaise in our country.  We have far too many people who profess piety, but when piety conflicts with their politics, their career, or their business practices, then they pretend that they can wear two faces, be two different people.  They claim, and perhaps even have convinced themselves, that they can privately honor Christ and publicly seek to run him and his values out of the public square on a rail.

Hilary Clinton and Tim Kaine will be the first to tell you that they are privately devout, “but…”


I don’t know about you, but I plan to vote for someone who lets his "faith inform [his] life.”  I think it is the truly Christian thing to do.  Don’t you?

Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). 

 The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. 

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