Well it’s that time again. It’s drawing towards the end of the 2012 presidential race and the elections are looming. This means that all the Christians are experiencing what we experience every four years.
All of a sudden everyone has an opinion on who God would want us to vote for. This excites many and disillusions others. Many of you will be relieved to hear that I have no intention of telling you who to vote for, others might be disappointed. Ultimately the truth is I don’t actually care who you personally choose to vote for. What I’m really passionate about is that you make that choice yourself!
First of all I want to state out-right that there are many people out there who are very passionate about who they believe God’s man to be, and I’m sure they could be right. Many of the issues they will choose to focus on that I’ll address in this article are important, I don’t want to completely discredit that. In light of that if you are such a person I want you to know that this article is not meant to be an attack on you or your opinion.
However I do want to openly challenge the way we deal with this topic in the church today. Especially in leadership. The issue exists from top to bottom in the church but the area it does the most damage is at the top. Why? Because many people expect their leaders to hear from God for them and to more or less tell them what to do!
The issue at hand We all know it’s illegal for someone in a leadership position of a church to tell others how to vote, however to some degree it happens left, right and centre across the country every four years. How do we do it?
Well let me ask you, have you ever heard some of these statements?
“As a Christian we must vote for the candidate with the most ‘biblical morals’”
“It’s your duty to vote for a candidate who stands right before God.
“If you don’t vote to protect life then God will judge this nation”
“There is one issue God needs us to vote on and that is to protect the sanctity of marraige”
The wording might not be exact but up and down the country people are being told who to vote for based on the “important issues”.
So what are the important issues. I’d like to talk about three areas that are made out to be of paramount importance, not so that you would change your vote but rather so you might think about your vote for yourself!
1. Voting for the Christian
Are we as Christians really supposed to vote for the Christian without question?
What if there are two Christians? Do we have a secondary system we can judge them on?
What if there are no Christians? Do we just not vote and hope that God raises up some better choices next time?
The idea that we vote for the Christian is nice in theory but it doesn’t really work.
Let’s take this presidential race for example. Only one candidate says He is a Christian.
You would think so but the one who says he is a Christian we call a Muslim.
The one who says he is a Mormon we label a Christian so we can vote for him.
So are we voting for the Christian? Or do we make the one we want to vote for a Christian?
And what qualifies someone being a “Christian” because in the church today we know plenty of “Christians” who believe that going to church once a week makes you a Christian. Other people believe that a deep living relationship is required to make you a Christian. Others believe it’s more of a moral thing, they just think that the law outlined in the Old Testament is the best way to live.
So which is it? Do we vote for the guy with good morals? The guy who says he talks with Jesus daily or the guy who will go to church every Sunday?
I personally think we’ve missed the point completely.
The truth is that the Bible says that the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. Whether you follow God or not He has given you natural gifts and callings. Lets be honest, just because you are a Christian doesn’t make you a better soccer player than David Beckham, it doesn’t make you better at starting billion dollar companies than Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates.
What’s my point? Being a Christian does not make you the best candidate for everything! Much less the presidency of the United States of America. Especially if the “Christianity” you claim is void of a deep personal relationship, I’ve never seen that help anyone overly!
Am I saying we shouldn’t vote for Christians? Of course not! I personally would love to see a Christian president in office. But what I am saying is let’s not vote for people who are not nearly qualified to do the job solely based on the fact they are a Christian!
I’d rather vote for someone who would do the job extraordinarily and trust that God is more than capable of giving the guy an encounter with Him.
2. The law doesn’t change the heart
So if we aren’t necessarily to vote for the candidate who is the most Christian who are we to vote for?
I often hear people saying that it is the responsibility of the believer to vote for someone who will uphold biblical morals.
However I am left wondering, as Christians aren’t we supposed to be upholding Jesus?
You see I don’t see anything in scripture to say that we are supposed to be establishing a kingdom of rules and regulations! Rather the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of grace and a Kingdom of freedom.
So why do we seem intent of establishing more law?
The idea that we can somehow end the “war on abortion” or win the “fight for the sanctity of marriage” with rules and regulations has one major flaw. It’s been proven time and time again to be ineffective.
In fact the bible itself is very vocal about this. Paul himself says that the law only strengthens sin (1 Cor 15:56) and when we introduce more law sin becomes even more out of control (Romans 5:20). In fact the only reason God gave the law to begin with was to show us that we couldn’t do it and force us to rely on God to change us from the inside.
The truth is that even if this whole system of laws did work, where would we draw the line?
Say for example that we made being gay and having abortions illegal. What happens next? Do we make lying illegal? Do we make it illegal to swing by McDonalds for a Big Mac more than once a week? Problem solved right… lying and gluttony are a thing of the past… what’s next? Getting angry? Looking at women twice?
We wouldn’t just have a problem of overpopulation of our prisons… we’d have nobody outside in the “world” to run it!
I can’t help but come to the conclusion that we cannot rely on the government to establish laws and rules in the hopes of people’s hearts suddenly being changed.
Jesus Himself addressed this in Matthew 5 when He says that the action is ultimately completely irrelevant. He said that being angry is as bad as murder and looking at a woman was as bad as adultery.
This leaves us with a problem, because if what Jesus said is correct doesn’t that mean everyone who has a homosexual thought is as “bad” as someone who gets married to someone of the same sex? So what are we going to do? How can we get the government to mange their thoughts?
Ultimately this logic raises a simple question.
If Jesus said this then why are we so excited about establishing a government that stops people doing sinful actions only to leave them with the sin itself in their hearts?
3. Who would Jesus vote for?
If all else fails just fall back on old faithful right? WWJD?
Have you ever thought about all the times Jesus talked about politics? Perhaps He is most famous for His great sermon where He single-handedly turned the political realm of His day on it’s head? Or that time He got behind someone and had them run to be the next political leader of the region?
The truth is that Jesus had absolutely nothing to say on politics. In fact He worked really hard to avoid talking about politics or even personally getting in on the action Himself!
Here are some facts we all know about Jesus but are pretty quick to forget sometimes:
- There is no record of Jesus ever addressing current political issues.
- Despite being accused of it before Pilate He never incited the people against Rome.
- After revealing He was the Christ – He specifically told His disciples to tell nobody.
- He refused to be given a position of political power.
- He completely avoided a debate about Roman rule when asked about paying Caesar taxes.
- He stated His Kingdom was not of this world.
This is all very interesting but it’s actually quite disconcerting given the world Jesus found Himself in.
Why did He never talk about the fact that the Roman Empire was full of people worshiping false Gods? Why did He never condemn the frequent orgies they would have? What about the murder that was commonplace and quite widely ignored and often condoned by the government? What about the homosexuality and rape that was commonplace amongst the leaders of the empire?
Why did Jesus not deal with these seemingly massive issues!
Presidents these days can’t even run if they’ve been divorced without a massive amount of controversy. Why did Jesus say nothing about government leaders who would do things as terrible as rape children, in public no less?
You can see why the Jewish people were so keen to have a Messiah that would take them out of Roman rule and establish a good kingdom. The kingdom they were in at the time was very evil from a Jewish perspective. And yet Jesus just didn’t seem all that interested in doing so. In fact every time they even suggested the idea He shot them down.
I think we fall prey to the same thing – we desperately want God to setup a worldly Kingdom.
Now let me say this. We are, as believers, called to see His Kingdom established here on Earth as it is in Heaven, but the truth is it seems like this will look very different to how we want it to! His Kingdom is being established but the problem is that His Kingdom is not of this world and it does not operate the same way. Government is important, but it is not how His Kingdom operates. His Kingdom operates in the context of relationship. Family is the government of Heaven.
Have you noticed that the whole topic of politics is pretty much completely ignored in the Epistles too?
In fact the one time Paul talks about the leaders in Rome is in his letter to the Romans where he tells them to serve their leader because God has put him in that place of authority.
Really? God put Nero in a place of authority? This isn’t like God just putting a president you don’t like in authority. No, Nero would set Christians on fire and put them on poles in his garden to keep it lit at night. He would walk the gardens as the Christians screamed out in pain literally being burned alive. He would feed any Christians he didn’t need to serve as garden lamps to the lions for entertainment. And Paul says that God put NERO in authority?
So what’s your point?
My point is this. No president will ever be able to make people sin less, that’s what Jesus does! The president is not going to do God’s job for Him, cleaning up a nation and in turn the world. God is very jealous of giving the title “savior of the world” to His Son.
I think we sometimes need to ask ourselves who is our Messiah? Jesus or the next president? Because as much as we would all say Jesus it seems by our actions most of our hope is in the next president.
Where is our hope for America? Is it in a future president? Or is it in Christ? The real issue is where we are placing our hope? We should not ask ourselves can I put my hope in candidate A or candidate B, rather we should ask ourselves the question, is my hope in Jesus?
The government was established by the founding fathers to serve the people. And yet we seem to expect that the people will serve the government. If the government requires something of them perhaps then they will clean up their act.
We can’t look to the government to establish God’s Kingdom. The Church must be who establish God’s Kingdom here on Earth.
So should I just not vote?
I’m not saying any of this to promote apathy, what I’m trying to promote is the exact opposite. Most of my friends know that I am very interested and even quite passionate about politics.
I’m not trying to talk you out of voting for anyone – rather I’m trying to talk you out of voting solely based on who the people around you think you should vote for. My goal is to encourage you to make up your own mind!
Why not pray about it, ask God who is the best candidate, watch the debates, read about all the candidates and what they stand for and think for yourself, have some discussion with other people about all the issues, not just the two issues your pastor tells you about. Think long and hard about which candidate upholds Christ’s values across the board and not just some “biblical” rights and wrongs in a couple of areas?
Perhaps your vote will stay the same, but at least you are making your own decision with God.
My goal is not to change who you vote for. It’s to change how you make your decision.