Today I early voted. It’s my third presidential election.
I revel in politics. Talk shows. Talk radio. Pundits. Policies. All of it. I’m passionate about some positions, think others are interesting, and still others insane. I’m inspired by some leaders and nauseated by others. Sometimes I feel both at once from the same person . . . in the same speech.
I’m not alone. Many Christians are passionate when it comes to politics. And that’s a good thing.
As believers, our Gospel is not good news just for later. It’s for now as well. We need to care deeply for justice, righteousness and shaping our world. A primary way of accomplishing that in our context is through the ballot box. For that we should be thankful.
As Americans, we need to monitor constitutional freedoms realizing they were won and are maintained at great cost. We need to appreciate the unique historical matrix in which we find ourselves. Rare indeed is the person who has the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and shape their own destiny. We are a nation full of them. We should feel proud of that. We should want to keep it that way.
But . . .
In the midst of our passion and desire to shape our future, we must remember two things.
1. Not everyone shares the same life experiences. All political views and voting habits are shaped by a number of variables. Not everyone perceives events and policies in the same light. We see them differently based on different life experiences and circumstances. Yes, there are universal Christian principles and values we can and should agree on (click here for my post on those principles), but we will always differ on how they play out in society. Why? As long as there are churches and Christians in different neighborhoods, across different ethnicities, in different parts of the country, in different socio-economic categories, who read different books, and work in different professions we will always perceive circumstances differently.
Therefore . . .
2. We must realize public policy is always a delicate balancing act. We will often disagree on how much to weight one aspect or another. That’s ok. What’s not ok is thinking one party or candidate is pristinely righteous according to God’s will and the other wholly malicious. Christians should have issues with both parties. Concerns with the Democratic party are well documented and I share them. However, there are for many faith induced tensions with Republicans as well. Opposition to the Dream Act might be one example for some. Others might take issue with the with many Republicans opposing a bill demanding equal pay for women because it is “job killing burden,” to quote one GOP Senator. Furthermore, what about the greedy special interests and unquenchable militarism enslaving both parties?
I’m not bringing these issues up to start an argument, only to show neither party is divinely ordained. Politics and governing is messy. Our sin is even messier. We don’t have pure candidates or platforms. We have to make the best out of available choices. Remembering this will go along way towards easing today’s entrenched divisions, allowing us to stop demonizing those who differ, and instead forge ahead in imperfect partnership.
So disagree. Argue. Yell. Scream. Mobilize. Vote. Great. But stop the sinful slander and hateful harangue now so common place among even those who follow the Prince of Peace. Such practices belong to those whose entire hope rests in an election or the enactment of a policy. As followers of the ultimate king and citizens of the ultimate kingdom, such insecurity should be foreign to us. Sadly it isn’t. It isn’t always for me.
So go out and vote your conscience.
Fight for what you believe is right.
Demolish the flimsy logic of the other side.
Carry on with those awkward Thanksgiving dinner conversations.
But remember, the other guys too are only trying to improve the economy, to ensure better educational opportunities, to see wages rise and crime drop, and above all to leave their children with a little bit more of a just, moral world than the one they were born into.