We Need Your Vote
In about a week, we will have the most important election in history! Well at least that’s what every TV commentator seems to be saying about it. A difficult economy, reelecting the first Black president, electing the first Mormon president, chaos in the middle east, are just a few of the serious issues facing America that get discussed on your favorite news show, at the barber/beauty shop, at the office, or at your dinner table.
If you’ve listened to these discussions or been a part of them, you can’t help but notice how fast discussions become disagreements and how fast those disagreements become arguments.
“Obama took over a terrible economy, but he’s started to turn it around.” “Romney is a great businessman who can fix the economy and get more jobs.”
“Romney wants smaller government so charities can be free to help and people can help themselves and take advantage of the American dream.” “Obama wants the power of a wealthy country to help the average guy and the less fortunate who can’t help themselves.”
“Obama supports women’s rights like fair pay and the right to choose.” “Romney has given women opportunities and mentored them in organizations he’s led.”
“Romney is only looking out for the rich folks.” “Obama doesn’t like successful people.”
“Obama has failed to fix the economy.” “Romney’s numbers don’t add up.”
“People won’t vote for Romney because he’s not a real Christian.” “People want Obama out because he’s Black.”
“I can’t believe Obama is for gay marriage and abortion on demand.” “Romney wants to control a woman’s body and put them back to the 1950s.”
“Romney is a liar and changes his positions more than he changes his socks.” “Obama demonizes or attacks his opponents and is a bad leader who can’t work with others.”
As the election gets closer, don’t let the craziness of the moment move you off of your fundamental responsibilities and a sinner saved by Grace.
Does that mean you should just remove yourself from the whole political world and stay away from it? Not at all. The government that is established is clearly established by God and we are to submit to it (Rom 13:1-2). But don’t stop there. The Bible tells us that we’re in this world, but not of this world. There is a careful balance here that you have to maintain. Don’t be so into this world of politics that it dominates every aspect of your life and permeates every discussion, unless it’s your profession of course.
The other error Christians make is to be so “not of this world” that we can’t have regular conversations about current events. As Christians we are to be salt and light in the world (Matt 5:13-16) and to do so requires you to be informed at some level. If a friend or relative who you’ve been trying to win to the Gospel, wants to talk politics, and your response is “This world is going to end anyway and Jesus is coming back so I don’t get into that stuff,” or you see the whole picture through very narrow lens of social issues like abortion and gay marriage, you risk making your faith looking like it has nothing to say about many every day problems, realities and issues. Who wants to be a part of a faith like that? And the truth is our faith has very much to say about many of the issues the world is talking about in this political season.
So make an effort to be knowledgeable about the issues facing us in this political season. You don’t have to become an expert on them all, but pick a few that are important to you that you’ve heard about and take a little of your Facebook time and replace it with some time studying those issues. Talk to some friends and family about them and listen to both sides of the issue and try to get a feel for which side agrees with your conscience. Then make an informed conscious vote.
The way you have the discussion can also make Christ attractive or unattractive. When you hear the discussion, there will be a temptation to get a flag for your side and wage war against the other side. Romney vs Obama. Republican vs Democrat. Conservative vs Liberal/Progressive. That’s a dangerous stance to take if you’re naming the name of Christ. How do you know you’re doing that? Here are a few symptoms. It is certainly not an exhaustive list.
- You only read articles that agree with your point of view. Confirmation bias.
- You only watch Fox News or only MSNBC and agree with all they say
- You have a hard time agreeing that the other side has a good point of view on an issue
- You can't admit or having a hard time admitting the faults of your side
- It’s hard for you to be friends or even friendly with people on the other side
- Your characterizations and judgments of people on the other side are harsh and extreme. Like they’re crazy for believing that! I can’t believe that so and so feels that way!
- You assume if a person believes one thing from the other side, that they hold every other belief from the other side before talking with him or her.
The idea here is to learn to listen well and seek to understand then to be understood (James 1:19). Learn to have good discussions and disagree without being disagreeable. I used to be a prime example of what not to do. My parents and I are almost total opposites politically. It seemed like for a period of my life in my early to mid 20s, I started to feel like a real adult who now had all the wisdom I needed in life. We always had great discussion about issues, but once I became so wise, my once intelligent parents became so uninformed and just plain wrong. The reality was that they had not changed, I had. I knew it was me because coincidentally my friends who were political or philosophical opposite of me were uninformed and wrong too! Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Cor 8:13).
God impressed on my heart to humble myself and learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Learn to find common ground where we can agree. Learn to accept that others may look at the same situation and come to a different conclusion as to the best way to solve it. And just because their ideas for the best solution tend comes from one political party and mine come from another doesn’t make their conclusions any less intelligent or thoughtful. And it doesn’t make me any better than them in any way.
There are good, intelligent Christians and non-Christians who are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. We are just different people who can still love each other and discuss our differences so we understand each other better. Thank God for differences or the world would be pretty boring. And thank God for understanding and Grace so we can spread the love and message of Christ across political lines.
One more public service announcement. You may get engaged, get informed and still think you can’t vote for either presidential candidate in good conscience. That’s perfectly fine. But look down the rest of your ballot. A lot of other elections are there that will affect your daily life from money for schools and job training and beautifying local parks to state and local officials, judges, and police who will make a lot of choices about hundreds of things that will impact how you work, worship and live until the next election. Your Republican vote in California or Democratic vote in Texas may not make a difference, but in some of these “down the ballot” elections, they’re often decided by a handful of votes and the votes of you, your friends and your church community can decide some of these impactful elections that don’t get as much of the spotlight. So get informed and vote.
Notice I didn’t say who to vote for. I pray I didn’t betray a particular bias toward one side or the other. That was not the aim. The aim was to tell you that whom you vote for should be determined by your research, discussions, thoughtfulness, and time in prayer to God. Then you can vote with a clear conscience and leave the results of the race to the collective impact the other millions of voters out there and God who is ultimately in control.