I feel sorry for liberals. I'm not talking about the militant liberal who distributes condoms to 13-year olds, desecrates the American flag and takes people to court for saying Merry Christmas. I'm talking about the average Joe liberal, the guy who works at the local Subaru factory who loves his country but thinks his fellow Americans are a bit too materialistic and has genuine concerns about how U.S. Foreign policy affects the rest of the world. The reason why I feel sorry for the average Joe liberal and not the Hollywood liberal is because the Hollywood liberal has the time and the money to build environmentally friendly homes, buy organic food and....in their spare time...save Darfur. Yes it's true that many of the Hollywood liberal types live far below their ideals (especially when they fly around in private jets), but at least they get to speak at One rallies and rub shoulders with Bono...or become a U.N. Goodwill ambassador.
The reason why I feel sorry for the average Joe liberal is because while most Americans eat Taco Bell, shop at Walmart, and pray to God the stock market treats them kindly, the average Joe liberal eats at Taco Bell, shops at Walmart, prays that his 401K will be there for him when he retires....and has to feel crummy about himself in the process. While most people organize their financial lives around what they feel is in their best interests, the average Joe liberal does the same thing. The difference though is that the average Joe liberal has to wonder if his designer jacket was produced in a sweat shop and hopes the oil stocks in his 401K aren't propping up the Military Junta in Burma. While most people only have to worry about enlarging their wastelines as they chow down on Big Macs, the average Joe liberal, as he chows down on the same Big Mac, wishes he was a vegetarian because he knows that beef production uses far more of the earth's water resources than vegetable production-and he knows that wars are fought over water resources. The guy I feel sorry for is the one with a bleeding heart, but an empty pocket.
I wonder if the Holy Spirit had the average Joe bleeding heart liberal in mind when He inspired the Apostle Paul to write...."For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do" (Romans 7:15). While I would like to believe that the Apostle Paul was talking about his present experience as a Christian when he wrote these words, intellectual honesty demands that I disclose my belief that Paul was talking about his pre-conversion experience in this passage. While some can debate my interpretation of this passage, I have to say that I much prefer the other interpretation that I don't accept, the interpretation that Paul was disclosing his struggles as a believer. Regardless if one believes Paul is talking about his pre-conversion experience or his post conversion experience, I have to say there is one thing I especially appreciate about this passage- and that's the Apostle's forthrightness about the human condition.
A couple of weeks ago, I was walking the streets of the West Bank with a delegation from Christian Peacemaker Teams. While most people in the group came from theologically liberal backgrounds, I felt a bit out of place being from a conservative evangelical background. As I conversed with a fellow delegation member one afternoon, I made a comment that none of us leave this world untainted. It seems that we all go through life not just stumbling in a few things, but in many things (James 3:2). I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel that I would rather not know about how many ways I stumble as I go about my daily life trying to get by with as little pain and as much comfort as possible. As much as I would like to think that all is well with my soul just because I love to go to church and don't drink, smoke, and cheat on my wife, I know in my heart it's simply not true.
I think that anyone who takes living a moral life seriously, whether liberal or conservative, will eventually find themselves facing this question. What does a man do when his ideals supersede his ability to reach his ideals? Extraordinary people manage to find ways to rise above the rest and live out their ideals in extraordinary ways. But extraordinary people are few and far betweeen. That's why they are extraordinary. But how does an ordinary person cope with extraordinary ideals?
I'll have to admit. I'm not sure I know the answer to this question. I'll gladly plead the Fifth on this one. There is one thing I do know though, and that is "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). I know this verse doesn't mean that we all get a free pass to live however we want, but, nevertheless, I'm sure glad it's in the Bible. Perhaps there's hope for average Joe bleeding heart liberals after all.