He sounded so noble saying it. So professional. And sadly to too many ears it sounded right. Me? I just shook my head.
My wife and I were watching er tonight. It was a show where it seemed every little plot line concerned abortion. And at one point a doctor accused her superior of not helping a 15 year old rape victim get an abortion because he was Catholic. He spewed right back at her, "Listen I'm a doctor first. Nothing gets in the way of me helping my patients." I could just hear the cheers of the tens of thousands watching this tired drama in their homes. After all, a doctor has to be a doctor before anything, right?
I have read many things about the U. S. Presidential election of 1960 with Roman Catholic candidate John F. Kennedy scaring many voters with his church affiliation. Rumors circulated that JFK would take his orders from the Vatican instead of listening to the will of the People. I have seen many news reports where potential judges and justices come forward to tell questioners that their religion would not color their view of cases brought before them. And I wonder to myself, "Is this right?"
There is a position open at a local university for a philosophy professor to teach from a non-sectarian position. Now while I can certainly present material which is non-sectarian in nature, can I truly be teaching from a non-sectarian position? Can a public school teacher really hide his or her faith so that nothing taught will be colored by it? I don't think it can be. Or more accurately, I don't think it should be. I'm not calling for teachers to strap crosses on their backs and pass out Chick tracts between classes, but by the same token where is the point where a Christian looks like any other teacher?
I've been thinking and writing a lot here about being a Christian first and an American after. Does the same thing apply to our jobs as well? Should the doctor have shouted, "I'm a doctor first!" or should he have said something about him caring about his patients because he was a Christian?
I've done the little exercise a number of times where you list all your identities. For example, I am a Christian. I am a pastor. I am a father. I am a husband. I am a son. I am a seller of t-shirts. I am a friend. And so on. What I read in the Bible is that we are to be Christians first and that relationship should affect how we behave as fathers and pastors and friends and t-shirt sellers. Separating my faith from the rest of my life is a surgery from which I cannot easily survive spiritually. And no matter how noble it sounds to say, "My family comes first. I'm a father first and foremost," I think that's mistaken. Because being a Christian should make me a better father and husband, etc. The one overriding identity in our lives must be our faith or else we've relegated God to the backburner.