Category: Politics

Election Thoughts

The results from the recent election were unexpected by many people and have resulted in a reaction that reveals just how divided our country really is. I had been more prepared to write a post about the role of the church in an increasingly more hostile culture, but have shifted my thoughts to how the church should respond in this election season.

Division in our country demands a thoughtful response. It is clear that the margins of the left and right movements have taken over the middle. That is what happens when we demonize things that are different and idealize our preferred political solutions. The problem is that those things that we demonize are not bad enough to completely explain the mess that we are in and what we idealize is not good enough to get us out of the mess we are in.

It is clear that both in our education systems and in our current culture, there is a real lack of understanding of how the political system works. There are always winners and losers; half the country is not going to be happy with the results. When you create a culture where everyone gets a trophy for participating, then when they face real life where there are winners and losers, people are completely unprepared.

The more desperate people are in their response to the election results, the more obvious it is that their hope is in the government. Government, by its nature, lacks the ability to deliver on the expectations that we place on it. Our hope should be in Jesus Christ, not government institutions.

Our allegiance to Jesus should take precedence over our ideology. It does not matter if you are liberal or conservative, or if you hold to progressivism, naturalism or socialism. None of those ideologies should supersede our allegiance to Jesus Christ.

We need to do better at addressing issues that are at the heart of our division. We are the only people with real answers and we must find a way to encourage healthy, civil debate and be able in wisdom to turn the conversation to the only real hope: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let’s be committed to pray for our country, pray for our incoming President — Donald Trump, his new Administration, and our Congress. Let’s be the best citizens that we can be by living out the Christian life in clear and compelling ways.

 

Election Matters

In the next few days, God willing, we will have chosen a new President of the United States of America. This election, unlike any other in my adult life has brought about a great deal of angst, disgust, and discussion both on social media and in person. While I wish we were presented different candidates, I actually think this can be positive for the church on many levels. It is an opportunity for us to have to teach people to think for themselves, instead of just telling them what to do or who to vote for. 

In 2012, I read an interesting blog that was largely based on a Pew Research paper discussing generations and their voting views. The study specifically referenced young evangelical voters and how they are trending toward a belief that a larger government is preferred. The idea is that they have yet to see an institution rise that is capable of addressing the challenges that we face as a nation.

The reality is that young people face legitimate concerns about their future, about poverty, health care, education, and national security. You could add to the list now, a concern over the character of those that aspire to political office. The Scriptures remind us in Proverbs 29:2 that, “When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice and when the wicked beareth rule the people mourn.” 

I see this as an opportunity for the church to step into the void created by government and begin to speak with clarity and conviction on the issues that matter based on the authority of the revealed Word of God. It should be obvious to us that when the church fails to offer solutions that address the needs in society, people will naturally look to the government to solve those same problems and provide for a better future. 

In an election that is critical on many levels and confusing for many different reasons, I want to offer some observations that will help you to think through how you are going to vote in this election.

• There is no single candidate that will champion every issue that we deem to be important – every candidate has flaws. While this is not necessarily new; it is just more evident than in the past because of media coverage and social media availability.
• The culture that we are living in is increasingly becoming hostile to the gospel and traditional biblical values (traditional marriage, sexual identity, etc.)
• There seems to be much more media bias that fuels the divide between more liberal, progressive views and more traditional conservative views.
• You can speak against the behavior or conduct of a candidate and still vote for him/her.
• Criticism of a candidate regarding a position or a character concern does not automatically equal an endorsement for another candidate.
• You can disagree with other people’s decision on who to vote for in the election and still remain friends.
• In voting for a candidate, you need to consider the overall over all policy platform.
• Finding candidates objectionable does not mean that you cannot vote on other issues.

Remember, as the world becomes more secular and less amenable to Biblical values you are going to have to adapt without compromising your integrity or the your spiritual convictions. Consider Daniel, Joseph, and Esther, each of them were engaged in the public square (political life) and had to accept some degree of cultural engagement before they reached a line that they would not cross.

In the end, I know that God remains in control and He is Sovereign even over those that rise to power. This is why we pray. Prayer is the ultimate recognition that there is a power and throne above earthly powers and rulers. Psalm 75:6–7 “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another.” 

Perhaps most importantly, how we live the day after the election as people that do not belong to this earth, but whose citizenship is in heaven may well be the greatest witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. How you vote matters; how you live after the vote matters even more.
Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

3 Questions That Will Help You Cast the Right Vote

The upcoming Presidential election in November has dominated the news for the past several months and continues to be on the forefront of most people’s minds heading toward the next election. Every time I try to distance myself from watching the news coverage, I keep being drawn back in like someone that is waiting for an inevitable crash to happen. I find that it is easy for Christians to either withdraw from political engagement or to put too much stock in getting a particular candidate elected to office. 

Christians have a unique relationship to government and participation in the voting process. While the Bible is not silent about how we are to engage, you have to work through and understand the context of the early Christians’ relationship to the government of the day (Rome) and how we are to engage in the political process that is unique to our own form of government in America.

Jesus reveals an important truth about the role of government when he talks about the issue of paying taxes. If you remember the story, Jesus was asked if he was going to pay taxes. He replied by taking a coin and asking whose image was on it. 

“They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) 

This passsage teaches that there is both a legitimate role of government (you give to Caesar that which belongs to him) and there is a limited role of government because while Caesar’s image may be on the coin it is not on you; you belong to God.

Paul develops the principle a little further when he says in Romans 13 that the sword of justice is given by God to those whom He places in power. Those who stand in that role of civil authority are accountable to God. That means that in a government like ours that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, the final authority for making those decisions rest with its citizens. When we go to the voting booth this coming primary we are choosing those leaders that we want to represent us in the business of government. 

As we consider who we are going to vote for this election cycle, I want to suggest that there are three important questions to be considered when formulating criteria for choosing how to use the vote given to every citizen in the United States. 

1. Where does a candidate stand on the important issues? 

Our country is facing an enormous number of critical issues ranging from foreign policy that will help keep our country safe, to immigration reform, to debt reduction and balanced budgets, to right-to-life issues, to the issue of marriage, to Supreme Court appointments, and to keep the defense of religious liberty. My prayer is that a clear candidate would emerge who can articulate a coherent strategy that will offer a way forward for the country and move us in a direction that respects individual rights and freedoms, expresses a grasp on important social issues, and is committed to keeping our country safe.

2. What kind of character does a candidate possess? 

The Bible is a remarkably honest record of the reign of different kings. Some are known for what they did well and others are marked by their personal failures. The Bible speaks to the fact that those who represent God in positions of authority are defined by their character and integrity. I know that almost any politician is going to say whatever they think needs to be said in order to be elected; however, I am hoping and praying that a candidate will emerge that possesses both the God-given skill to lead others and the personal integrity to do it in a way that reflects the character expected of those who will rule over others.

3. Am I allowing my faith to influence my decisions? 

When it comes to choosing candidates we are often tempted to opt for pragmatism, voting for people that may be most likely to be elected and yet are least aligned with gospel truths. That means we should be modeling a Christian political engagement that doesn’t start or end with politics alone. It starts and ends with the gospel and the kingdom of God. For the follower of Jesus, we should set the cross at the center of our lives and address every issue in life through the lens of the cross.