Friday, July 1, 2016

On the Election

Alright, I’m giving in.
Prudence tells me to hold my tongue, but conscience tells me to speak.
I have a few thoughts I must share about the presidential election. I’ll be brief.

First: we chose this.

Remember back in 2004 when the “don’t blame me, I voted for John Kerry” stickers were cool? This presidential election is like that—but on a much larger scale. We want to reel in disgust at the candidates our elections have chosen. The majority of Americans don’t like Trump or Clinton. They’re ridiculous. They’re ideologues. They’re criminals. Surely we can do better. So we look down on the people who voted for Trump or Clinton or Sanders or Cruz. We wonder how people could ever vote for these folks.

At a deeper level, however, we are looking for someone to blame. If it’s ignorant, rural populists or cowardly, establishment democrats or baby boomers or the system, then I can sleep better at night because it’s not my fault.

But, here’s the brutal reality: we chose this. Maybe we didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton, but we helped bring them here. We created this political climate. Every time we turned the dial to Glen Beck or Rachel Maddow, we brought this day closer. Every time we spouted off on Facebook or Twitter or Imgur, we brought this day closer. Every time we blamed before trying to understand, we brought this day closer. The problem isn’t Trumpism or the establishment; our attitude is the problem. We want quick fixes, smooth sound bites, and the reassurance of hearing our own opinions read back to us.
We chose this.

Second, the lesser of two evils may not be worth it this time.

If your problem with Trump or Clinton is that you can’t trust them, then why are you voting for them? Trump says he’ll give Republicans the Supreme Court. He also says he’ll build a wall with Mexico and hand over his tax information and take care of women. Do you believe him?

Third, there isn’t a simple Christian answer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a Christian response to this election. My wife keeps asking me who I’m going to vote for. I had a lot of answers and fiery rhetoric. Then, my pastor knocked me off my high horse.
God has been challenging my politics a lot lately. Does my pithy one-liner truly love my neighbor? Am I committed to Truth or being right? How much of my politics is just an excuse to show off how smart, independent, or educated I am? What would it look like to truly image God in the public square?
A Christian response isn’t about a vote, a candidate, or a party; it’s about an attitude. The attitude of a Christian must always be one of humble submission to Christ. That means acknowledging our sin, acknowledging our pride, and acknowledging our ignorance. I like to pretend I have the answers—but I don’t.
Step one is humility. I’ve found myself saying “how can you be a Christian and vote for…” Maybe my answer isn’t the only valid answer. Maybe the other guy is a faithful Christian too. God surprises me every day. I pray He will continue to challenge me. If I am not uncomfortable with God’s politics, then there is a decent chance they aren’t God’s politics.
But, humility doesn’t mean silence. Christianity has non-negotiables. We can be humble yet insistent on the truths of our faith. We must stand against doctrines that co-opt Christianity. More than that, we must stand for the Gospel. How hypocritical is it for us to criticize Muslims for not condemning ISIS yet stand silent when our leaders twist our faith?
Our insistence shouldn’t be a personal attack nor should it come from a bullhorn. Instead, it should be the loving response of a people who know that Truth is on our side. Christ calls us to a higher way: the way of love. We can love our enemies while proclaiming the truth of Christ. Pray for the politician you hate, the voters you can’t understand, and the pundit you despise. Jesus Christ died for them as much as He died for you and I.

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