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Vote for . . .

Polling_StationThe legions of recent political ads on TV have inspired me . . . to order TiVo. Too many political ads flood the airwaves in the weeks leading to Election Day. I shan’t bore you with a trite plea to get out and vote as your civic duty to end the insanity. In reality, the candidates and ballot propositions are often difficult to evaluate because politics have become so tortuous it is hard for a fair-minded person to sift through the muck and find clarity. Political ads too often contain lies and half-truths. That does not mean a good Christian should give up and shun the polls. Yet followers of Christ would do well to reject shallow loyalties to a political party and familial ideologies. In other words, it is a copout for anyone to be a Democrat or a Republican just because everyone in their family was a Democrat or a Republican. I am not suggesting all Christians need to belong to the Independent Party. I’m suggesting that Christians educate themselves and commit to uncovering truth wherever we find it, even if it flies in the face of some of our cherished political leanings. We are too easily allured by superficial issues that distract us. The biggest problems facing America are not gay football players or the debate over Renee Zellweger’s new face (I thought she was brilliant in Cold Mountain).

As Christians and citizens who must care more about real life than what’s on TV or trending on Twitter, we have a precious voice in our vote. Granted, it is not much of a voice when at odds with big money and powerful special interests. But it is a voice, nonetheless. I still get goose bumps when entering a voting booth because I know what has been sacrificed by courageous men and women for me to engage in that sacred act of contributing to the voice of the people.

If you read through the Book of Hosea you find the Lord lambasting the Israelites for the flagrant immorality in their culture, religion, and politics. And every now and then in Hosea the Lord says “None of them calls upon me.” God was angry and hurt that the people didn’t bother to pray to Him for help. Prayers for elections matter. That said, Christians who vote are morally obliged to vote in line with Biblical values, or as close to Biblical values as the candidates and issues allow. It does no good to pray for an election of leaders then go out and vote for candidates or propositions almost entirely at odds with God’s values. Instead, Christians must read the Bible and get familiar with its broad context, which means they must read more than a smattering of verses in the Gospels and Paul’s letters. Prayer, Bible literacy, and astute understanding of the issues are excellent voting guides. (It’s either that or ask Willie Robertson who he endorses for political office . . . which might not be a bad idea.) It’s also imperative to have at least a basic understanding of the history of America’s founding. I strongly recommend that all voters know the history of William Bradford and the issue of “common course,” a form of agrarian communism that failed miserably and led to private agriculture. I am not advocating for a survival of the fittest society in America, but I do believe every voter must have an understanding of the ideologies that formed America.

One last thought: Do not vote expecting politicians and government to make all your dreams come true. That’s up to you and God and must be done without neglecting the Biblical value of loving our neighbors. This may become an increasingly impossible task given the current unholy marriage between politics and crony capitalism. Hopefully the American people are ingenious enough to continue to prosper and take care of each other despite the failings of government and big commerce. If not, our system will flounder and eventually collapse. And I pray the church and the next generation are prepared to rebuild when it happens. Until then, if you want greater meaning in life—go deeper than the superficial politics seen in political ads and vote wisely and in truth.