Let’s address the elephant (and donkey) in the room, shall we? As Christians seeking to tether our convictions to every aspect of our lives, it becomes increasingly difficult to navigate the political arena and hold on to such convictions. It seems that many Christians are left churning the curds of their discontent in order to justify their endorsement, or they boycott the political system altogether in an attempt to make a statement. This is where I would advise caution. There may be merit to each of these decisions when judging the heart of the voter or nonvoter, but what decision brings about a solution? That’s really what we should ask ourselves.
Our ultimate goal in any situation should be to answer an issue with a proposed solution. Instead of tackling specific platforms, or characters of the current candidates to figure out for whom we should vote, I hope we can find some peace in making our final decision based upon Jesus’ mission which he has delegated to us.
Ultimately, our motives should be pure and our hearts sincere as we seek to make the best decision for the people.
Before we can go any further in dissecting how Christians should approach voting, let us first understand who we should be as Christ followers according to Scripture. Luke provides a brilliant narrative of Jesus’ ministry and teachings during a time of political and religious unrest. He does so by involving the Holy Spirit more than any of the other gospel writers and emphasizing Jesus’ mission of liberation to the poor, oppressed, foreigner, widow, and orphan. Christ’s mission is led and fulfilled through this Spirit-power. What is Jesus’ goal with this mission?
I find it interesting that Jesus enters Jerusalem in Luke 19, and sets his gaze directly to the temple. Once he arrives there, he cleanses the temple by overturning the tables of the merchants. Jesus does this while saying, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers” (Luke 19:46). Jesus is alluding to Isaiah 56:7, and affirming Isaiah’s call of sincere prayer, and then alludes to Jeremiah 7:11 to affirm Jeremiah’s call for social justice. The point I’m trying to make here is that
Jesus’ mission leads him to the temple and not to Caesar.
He is absolutely challenging the system of his time, but is it the political system, or the religious one? Jesus continues to teach in and around the temple in the days following (see Luke 19:47-48) and it is the religious elite who become angry with his mission and message of liberation.
What does this have to do with us? Everything. We must first ask ourselves if we are only concerned with our own appearances of “piety,” or whether or not we actually would seek to do good to all people as Jesus did and so urged his followers to do upon his ascension. Overall, our challenges should be less political, and more ecumenical and ecclesiological.
We are Christians and citizens of the Kingdom of God before we are citizens of any nation.
We belong to the whole of humanity more than we belong to any one race or political party. While our responsibility to vote is assuredly significant, it is our greater duty to seek the fair treatment of humankind. With that in mind, maybe we can weigh the propositions of the candidates on our scale of conviction. This isn’t a promotion of “the lesser of two evils” ideology, however. As John Wesley famously said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” The issues aren’t just political ones. No candidate will liberate like the Spirit can through the deeds of the church. These issues cannot be dichotomized between conservative versus liberal politics.
This is about the Church’s response about doing right over wrong, choosing good over evil.
Should we vote? Yes. No. Maybe. That is the beauty of democracy. We even have the ability to emphasize our voices through our silence. If you decide to vote, who you vote for is up to you. We need to make sure that we are voting or abstaining from voting with the purpose and mission of Jesus. We need to make sure that equality, peace, justice, and love are all motivators when we do decide to cast your vote. Intolerance, frustration, and anger can become the breeding ground of hatred. Our Christianity will influence our political decision, but politics should never dictate who we are as Christians. Challenge the religious system in order to influence the political one. Be the change instead of expecting a political leader to bring it.