The title of this blog comes from 2 Peter 3:11 with a little tweaking: How should we then vote? I received constructive criticism from a dear friend after sending out an email encouraging everyone to vote. He strongly suggested I should have instructed each to vote as a Christian: against abortion and same sex marriage, and for freedom of religion … and a life free from mob rule, etc.
However, John Piper recently wrote, “I remain baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai), and the like, to be only “toxic” for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as “deadly.” Both are deadly.”
You have heard it said “If you find the perfect church, do not join it as it will not be perfect anymore!” 😮 There is no perfect church and there are no perfect candidates. So we are always left with the choice of the lesser of two evils, no matter who is running for office. Randy Alcorn in Heaven said (the book, not the address 😇) “Christians should be involved in the political process, and we can do much good, but we should never forget that the only government that will succeed in global reform is Christ’s government.” We are called to be “salt and light” in this ever-darkening world, and part of our witness is that our neighbors see how we apply our Christian worldview in deciding for whom we vote.
Another friend, though, perhaps the wisest and most influential in my life, expresses remorse that the Evangelical community has so strongly embraced President Trump that we have alienated half of the nation to our witness for Jesus. Their reasoning is understandable if our allegiance to a political party seems to take precedence over our allegiance to another King.
Jesus and His followers were not very attached to this present world, and it was that “other-worldliness” that brought on suspicion, persecution and even martyrdom, not their allegiance to any earthly ruler.
Perhaps the worst day in history for Christianity was when Emperor Constantine became a Christian. Suddenly it became “popular” to carry the Name. Meetings in homes were no longer viewed as subversive; it rapidly became politically, economically and socially advantageous to be “Christian.” The result was the Christ-following communities were infiltrated by pretenders and like “sheep in the midst of wolves,” their innocence quickly became overrun with those who were CINO (Christian In Name Only).
What the enemy could not accomplish by persecution was achieved by subtler means, getting half-hearted “disciples” to mimic the words and practices of the Christians until one could not be certain of any faith. Like many in churches today, if they showed up for the meetings, paid some offerings and generally supported the Church, they became accepted to even lead.
This is not to say the Church was entirely corrupt and of no value. Like “weeds among wheat,” Father allowed the Church to continue growing. Many good things came from this acceptance into general society, such as Constantine’s call for a Council of Nicaea to clarify certain issues of doctrine, as well as other Councils. Many church “fathers” such as Irenaeus, Jerome and Augustine explored great truths for the Church, exhibited both by their lives of commitment and their extensive writings. However, the Church continued to slide gradually into political and societal priorities and became less interested in the other Kingdom, “not of this world.”
Alasdair MacIntyre ended After Virtue with a warning of “the coming ages of barbarism and darkness.” We in our generation may well take care to prepare for renewed persecution and ostracization if we espouse that there is another King to whom we are allied, not the Republican nor Democratic parties (nor any fringe parties, either).
“Love your neighbor. Love the stranger. Hear the cry of the otherwise unheard. Liberate the poor from their poverty. Care for the dignity of all. Let those who have more than they need share their blessings with those who have less. Feed the hungry, house the homeless, and heal the sick in body and mind. Fight injustice, whoever it is done by and whoever it is done against. And do these things because, being human, we are bound by a covenant of human solidarity, whatever our color or culture, class or creed.
“These are moral principles, not economic or political ones. They have to do with conscience, not wealth or power. But without them, freedom will not survive. The free market and liberal democratic state will not save liberty, because liberty can never be built by self-interest alone. I-based societies all eventually die. Ibn Khaldun showed this in the fourteenth century, Giambattista Vico in the eighteenth, and Bertrand Russell in the twentieth. Other-based societies survive. Morality is not an option. It’s an essential.”
Jonathan Sacks, Orthodox Rabbi, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times
These are instructions such as Jesus gave. My only point of divergence from the good Rabbi would be the expectation of the Holy Spirit empowering us to fulfill such behaviors. We who follow Jesus must, I say MUST, exhibit that same love of our Lord that prayed over his crucifiers, “Father, forgive them for they do not understand what they are doing.”
Anita and I already voted and my friend and critic would approve, but I did not vote to please him or you. And if you think you voted for someone other than I did, let’s sit down and talk about our rationales. There should be no hate, no antagonism, no animosity. Even if you were my enemy, even if you were my crucifier, my Master calls on me to show you love; and that we voted differently hardly makes you an enemy just because we disagree politically.
So finally, how should we then vote? Do not vote as a Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc., but vote as a Bible-believer, a follower of Jesus; one who takes this responsibility very seriously.
And what else? Pray, pray, pray for the coming elections. Yes, “pray without ceasing.” Also “pray for all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.“
And pray, pray, pray for your country.