Once upon a time, there was a Baptist pastor's daughter. She didn't drink and she didn't chew and she didn't run with boys that do. She was a good Christian, which meant that she was a good Republican, and believed that God, himself, was the first red state. That's what her church implied. That's what local Christian radio implied. That's what the Baptist Standard implied. So, God must be a Republican.
She went to a small Baptist college, where she received a small Baptist scholarship. She took her first political science course, taught by one of the pillars of this institution ... and within the first week he proudly stated that he had always been, and would always be, a Democrat. The girl was looking around her, wondering why everyone else was not having a heart attack. I mean, he might as well have said he cross-dresses on the weekends. She kept wondering, "How is the university okay with this??" Because, Democrats did not follow Jesus ... right?
Our heroine married. She married a good Baptist minister, and they served in a quickly dwindling good Baptist white church in the middle of a Hispanic neighborhood. She worked for one of the most well-known fundamentalist Baptist pastor's in the nation.
And then everything changed.
She met people outside of her good Baptist circle that also loved Jesus. She thought that everything she ever needed to know, she had learned at the Southern Baptist Convention. But lo and behold, she had not been given the whole story. Her theory that no one had to live in poverty if they just worked hard and budgeted ... well, wait a minute ... that's not necessarily accurate? The Bible talks about the poor? Like the stuff that good Baptists should be doing for the poor?
Our girl fell more in love with Jesus every day. She soaked him up like a sponge. Yet, the more she did that, the more he challenged her to do more ... to learn more ... to understand more ... to love and serve more.
Her entire world view changed. Ironically, it finally included - the whole world! She realized how wealthy she was. She realized how selfish she was. She realized how wasteful she was. And God said, "Please change this," and she said, "Ah, crap."
She opened her heart. She opened her life. She started worshiping God by taking care of all he provides. She became a much better steward of things, and living with less so that her family could share more. She added children to her home whose history and heritage cannot even fathom the wealth of the US middle class. She read what God has to say about peace and love and mercy and grace, because this was new to her. She had spent most of her childhood talking about not having sex, and was too busy for all that other stuff.
Abortion once disgusted her, but now it made her cry. She studied it - really studied it. She found that the Republicans had a plan for stopping abortion, but in reality, it wouldn't work. In fact, it might only put a small dent in it. Yet, with more active social programs, fewer women have abortions. The mothers want to parent their babies, they just need a way. They need more options. And our girl realized that for every woman who selfishly takes advantage or is purposefully irresponsible, there are many more who raise their children into adulthood. Her typical straight ticket would do nothing for dying babies and desperate mothers now - nothing.
She was normal, in all of the normal ways. She liked money. Her husband liked money. Money buys things. Money is cool. Yet, the love of it is also the root of all evil. So, knowing that life will always cost more and more and more money, her family started to spend less. They planned for increases and did not live on all of their money ... and they could start to give more away. They had more than they needed, and they shared with those who did not. And it was good. And there were people in government that wanted to do more of the same types of programs (like public schools), to help more people be healthy and have a better chance at being sustainable. That is kind of world that our girl wanted. That is America to her.
The Republicans yelled in her ear, "The Democrats want all of your money!" So, what would they do with all that money? She studied it. She learned about it. She realized it would go to help all people. It would go to make our nation more sustainable, which would then free up more money to help more people all over the world. It would be a greater reflection of how her own home functions ... a way which reflects her Jesus. While God's church is supposed to be serving "the least of these," we also are some of the wealthiest people in the world, and our country could do more. Our country could glorify God. She liked that. Our girl liked that!
And so it was, in November 2008, our girl cast her vote for the very first African American president. She completed that arrow with her felt tip pen, knowing that this candidate, even though he believes in the same Jesus, did not reflect her in every opinion or approach. She helped to elect a man for a job, not a Savior for eternity. She exercised an amazing right, that many people around the world do not enjoy. She did so, knowing that there are many that feel she was sinful. She cried a bit, realizing that people assume her relationship with Christ is shallow or watered down (words that good Baptists use a lot to talk about those who try to make their faith fit their lifestyle). She found herself heartbroken by these thoughts, because she made her decision completely guided by her God and the book of his words that he has left for her. She knows that every single fault and slip of this president will mean a few "I told you so's."
In the Bible Belt, she took the road less traveled.
She voted for Obama.
The pastor's wife of the First Baptist Church in rural Oklahoma voted for Barack Obama.
And she now wonders if she would get fewer hateful comments and emails if she had just said she was a lesbian.