This is in no way a new thought, but I don’t know about you, but, when I grew up in evangelical Christian circles, I knew that evangelicals vote Republican (or, at least vote on now Republican ideals). Why? Well, the answer is simple. Certain things – pro-life (however, only on abortion), capital punishment (see what I mean) is ordained by God, war against anyone that would prevent American (presumed Christian) ideals around the world, homosexuality is sinful, and…well, I’m having difficulty coming up with more.
Actually, I saw this most recently with a three-column spreadsheet of the issues and where each candidate stood on the issue “yes” or “no.” You’ve seen them. Column 1 – Issue, 2 – McCain (yay!), 3 – Obama (boo!). It was broken down into about ten issues, which was really the above four issues stated in a multiplicity of ways. The Iraq War was only mentioned once, and so was capital punishment. So, you can guess how the other two issues were posed throughout the last 8 statements (I think gay rights had five and abortion three). You don’t need to be a rocket-scientist to figure out the conclusion – the donkey lost.
I don’t think I would have been so perturbed if it wasn’t so reductionistic in two ways – (1) it didn’t make the answers as simple as “yes” or “no” and (2) it didn’t make the “important” Christian ideals as simple as abortion, capital punishment, war, and homosexuality.
Christians should be politically confused.
“What?” Yes. Think about it – what about poverty? What about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? The Bible talks more about taking care of the poor than it does homosexuality. Feel free to prove me wrong. I’m not trying to be antagonistic but just making a point.
What about life? “Well, yeah, we have that covered – we’re pro-life.” Well…kinda. But you believe capital punishment is OK. [You may be fine with that, but I'm not that comfortable playing God]. But you are quick to go to war. As Shane Claiborne says, I’m pro-life from “womb to the tomb.” That’s a good policy.
What about justice? “Yeah, we have that. We got some conservative judges on the bench, and we can get even more this time around.” Not that kind of justice. I’m talking about dealing with third-world debt. I’m talking about, as Bono says, “Where you live shouldn’t determine if you live.” I’m talking about “loving your neighbor as yourself” (yes, Jesus meant that literally – doesn’t just mean American neighbors…what about global neighbors?). I’m talking about, “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6v8).
What about violence? Is it OK that “The US arsenal is the largest stockpile of nuclear weaponry in the world, equivalent to over 150,000 Hiroshima bombs…The US military budget is over 450 billion per year, and it would take the combined budgets of the next 15 countries to equal that of the US (Russia is the next biggest spender at around 70 billion, China at 50 billion, and the entire ‘Axis of Evil’ is less than 10 billion)” [p. 178; Claiborne, S., and Haw, C. (2008). Jesus for president: politics for ordinary radicals. Zondervan: Grand Rapids]. Does that bother anyone else? “Well, better us than them.” Whatever you say.
What about the environment? (“Whoa! Evan’s a lib.” I’m just a Christian.) I’m talking about, “God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good [or beautiful]!” (God said that, see Genesis 1v31; we usually skip that part because we are too busy trying to disprove those pesky evolutionists). I’m talking about, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24v1). As I’ve said to many Christians before, I don’t care if you believe or don’t believe in global warming, I do care how you treat God’s creation. One author said, How you treat creation reflects how you feel about the Creator.
I’m not saying, now Christians should vote Democrat. I don’t think it’s as easy as putting us in one party. In fact, some of the above Christian ideals that I mentioned aren’t seen as “American.” I’m saying we should be politically confused.
The Christian life is not cushy, easy, and comfortable. We constantly deal with the tensions of being in the world and not of it. We constantly deal with the tension of already bringing the Kingdom of God to earth and not yet because we still wait for its consummation. We constantly deal with the tension of following Jesus as King already, and not yet because we wait for Jesus as King on earth over all things.
So, Christians should be politically confused. It doesn’t come down to abortion, war, capital punishment, and homosexuality. It includes thoughts on those things, but it includes, dare I say, the rest of the Bible (for church historians, which we all should be, what the early Church believed). The fact is, it doesn’t matter who you vote for on November 4th as much as it does matter how you vote November 3rd and 5th and every day of your life. So, vote every day with our lives and by standing by what we stand for.
We’re a politically confused bunch, aren’t we?