Interview: Condoleezza Rice's Faith Context for Foreign Policy
Was there a time when you came to a place on that issue, where your faith informed your position on abortion?
I'm still coming to terms with it. I don't like the government involved in these really hard moral decisions. While I don't think the country is ready for legislation to overturn Roe v. Wade, certainly I cannot imagine why one would be in favor of partial birth abortion. I also can't imagine why one would take these decisions out of the hands of the family. We all understand that this is not something to be taken lightly.
Same-sex marriage is another issue that has captured the country's attention in recent years.
I have lots of respect for people on both sides of this divide, because there are really hard issues. I don't ever want anybody to be denied rights within our country. I happen to think marriage is between a man and a woman. That's tradition, and I believe that that's the right answer. But perhaps we will decide that there needs to be some way for people to express their desire to live together through civil union. I think the country, if we can keep the volume down, will come to good answers.
When Hillary Clinton talks about her faith, she says, "I don't wear it on my sleeve." How do you talk about faith as a public figure?
There are very few people who don't know that I'm Christian. I don't have any desire to hide it or to say you don't need to know that about me. I also recognize that it's not something that one talks about in every sentence that you utter, because then people start to mischaracterize and start to caricature those of us who are Christian. You really want to know me? You need to know that I'm a devout Christian. But I'm not going to lecture you about it on a daily basis.
One of your friends read an article about you and said, "You're not an evangelical Christian," and you said "Yeah, but I am." How can evangelicals speak with conviction without alienating others?
It's extremely important not to assault people. I gave a sermon about the extraordinary variability in the way that Christ approached different people when he was giving a message. He kind of confronts the young ruler: "It's easier [for a camel] to pass through the eye of a [needle] than for a rich man to get into heaven." Even Christ tried to meet people where they were rather than just being harsh with everybody. He speaks to the woman at the well. Sometimes I think evangelicals come at people so hard and so fast and don't take time to listen to where somebody is. We can just try to have a lighter touch sometimes.
You said you had theological debates with your father: "We exchanged views on everything from the teachings of Paul, about which my father had some reservations, to the horrors of Revelation." Do you still wrestle with some of the Bible's teachings and its theological implications?
Sure. The Bible is at the core of our faith, and it's the core of my faith. Yet I can remember particularly wrestling with the relationship between the God of retribution, anger, and judgment in the Old Testament and the God of redemption and grace in the New Testament. Since I'm a Christian, the birth of Jesus Christ explains that link. We all struggle with some of the representations of women in the Bible, and yet I know and find remarkable that at the beginning of the faith, Christ's resurrection, it's women who are chosen to tell the first story.
Church has played an important role in your life. How does your current involvement impact your spiritual growth?
I want to get to a regular enough life that I could actually do Bible study, because Bible study is really essential. I've tried reading the daily passages, and I fall off or I don't really engage it. But whenever I've been in a group, it adds to my understanding.