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Selected Passages

Cover of book Faithful Frustration

Many of us feel we have all the government we can stand and more than we can afford. We strongly, instinctively react against politics when we consider waste, fraud, corruption, deception, arrogance, misuse of authority, and burdensome taxes. Many people of faith hold this view of politics and government, and they also believe that government in recent decades has contributed to moral decline and the weakening of traditional values.

Anger and frustration toward government today are very high. But if you find yourself frustrated with government, imagine how frustrated we elected officials feel when we try to make government work and often cannot. Time and again, my task is not, as I would wish, to pass needed laws or set up helpful programs, but rather to try to stop bad bills and simply make existing laws and programs work. Often I work to get government to help people, but perhaps even more often I try to keep it from hindering or even harming citizens.

Abortion Hits Home

He told us our twins were not going to live. He recommended an abortion.

"How sure are you, doctor?" I asked.

The doctor said he was pretty sure.

"Like 90, 95, 98 percent certain?"

He replied with a single word: "Yes."

The doctor again recommended an abortion.

In twenty-four hours, we had six consultations with three doctors at two hospitals.

Further tests and a visit with a high-risk pregnancy specialist name Sal Lombardi led to a more hopeful diagnosis. If Nancy could carry the boys several more weeks, Dr. Lombardi told us we might yet take two boys home.

Nancy was the minister of discipleship at a church in Nashville, but the congregation - and many other friends - ministered to her during that time. Her Bible study group met in our little apartment as Nancy went on "modified bed rest." We saw Dr. Lombardi weekly during much of the summer, and finally in late July, he told us to come in daily. Standard protocol at that time had only required visits every third day, but just the week before a couple with triplets had experienced the death of one of their babies, so he changed the protocol with us.

... So, what does this story have to do with you and with politics?

Dr. Sal Lombardi, the high-risk pregnancy specialist who decided that our twins' birthday would not be their death day, graduated from public schools, then went to college and medical school on federally subsidized student loans. He developed his extraordinary expertise by learning from taxpayer-funded teachers in government-funded universities and hospitals.

Dr. Doug Brown, the obstetrician who so skillfully delivered our babies and took care of Nancy, received government-subsidized education and training.

The neonatologists who kept our babies alive also received government-funded education and training, as did many of the nurses whose care was essential for the boys' survival.

The hospital where our boys spent their first four weeks is part of a private university, but it receives literally millions and millions of tax dollars from our government.

But this is only part of how our boys were saved by government and tax dollars.

One of our premature babies was treated with surfactant, which helped his lungs develop so he could breathe and survive. That miracle-working, lifesaving drug was developed with millions of tax dollars made available through our federal government.

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where our sons spent their first four weeks was itself an invention made possible and developed with both federal tax dollars and private donations.

Several other treatment techniques, procedures, and medicines that helped save our babies and literally thousands and thousands of others were developed with government funding.

Simply put, if not for the wise and compassionate decisions of men and women in government and the tax dollars paid by us all, my sons would have died. You can see, then, why I am unlikely to agree with any oversimplified depiction of government as evil.

In America, politics selects and controls the governments that save lives - or don't. In America, politics and government are often forces for good. If sometimes they do not do their job as well as they should, then we should participate in the process and make them better.

Campaign Attacks

The ugliest campaign attacks I've endured came when a fellow Christian ran against me. His party's political operatives and some supporters spent many resources not promoting him but attacking my values and character. And this was a campaign between fellow believers.

Religious Freedom

Some people fear that religious freedom can be abused, and clearly it can be. But we can steer wisely between extremes. We can allow students religious freedom in school without infringing on the rights of others.

We need not wait for another constitutional amendment to protect religious liberty. We just need to use the one we have.

As Christians and as Americans, when we evaluate and vote on issues and candidates, freedom must be a primary concern. We should care about freedom, both at home and abroad, because God does. Political action gives us the opportunity to promote and protect freedom. Faithful politics requires nothing less.