Monday, February 1, 2016

Is There A Christian Vote?

Every election year, we hear about the "evangelical vote." Political commentators talk about the "religious right wing voting bloc."

This election year is no different.

I'm paying more attention to the political landscape than I usually do. This is because others keep TV tuned into political stations. In the Republican Presidential campaign talk, I have been hearing talk about "the Evangelical vote." By this term, political commentators are talking about voters who list themselves as practicing evangelical Christians. These are voters who have a Christian worldview, profess faith in Jesus as Savior, and are prolife. This voting bloc typically oppose abortion, oppose gun control, and oppose "big government." Since strong conservatives embody these values, most "Religious Right" voters vote Republican and conservative. I have long been aware of this, and the only political initiatives and issues that conservative "relgious right" people give priority to, are abortion and gay marriage. Is there a "Chrstian Vote" and do we have to vote a certain way in order to be pleasing to God?

The "Religious Right" and the "Religious Left"

Because of personal experience and research, I know there are "right" and "left" Christian worldviews. And they oppose each other. I have already outlined the values that the "right" focus on. These are opposition to abortion, opposition to gay marriage, and opposition to "big government." "Big government" includes means-tested programs like Food Stamps, Medicaid, universal health care, family and medical leave, early childhood education, and anything that as my mom pusts it, "helps people." On the other hand, the "left" among "progressive liberal Christians reverses their priorities. They often support "marriage equality," are indifferent to abortion or even support it, and support "big government." "Left progressive" Christians tend to support universal health care, Food Stamps, Medicaid, medical and family leave, early childhood education, and all those programs that "help people." "Conservative" Christians see the government as our problem and declare that the government can't save us. They value privatization of government programs. The government exists to protect and defend human life, even if it invades privacy. "Progressive" Christians, on the other hand, believe that the government can help us in many ways and should take care of our needs. They strongly oppose the government "butting in" our private lives and so they either are silent on or support support marriage equality are are usually silent on or support abortion. Notice a pattern? Both sides have Biblical elements; both sides have elements that violate biblical principles.

My Personal Experience

I grew up in a family that was dyed-in-the-wool Democratic. This has not changed over the years. Democrats are seen as good and wanting to help people; Republicans are seen as evil and not caring about the well-being of people. This extended to abortion "rights" when abortion was legalized. It was when I entered adulthood and began taking God seriously, that I found some of these Democratic policies at odds with my beliefs. This was especially in the area of abortion. I was saddened, frustraed and angry that I could no longer support Democratic candiadtes that I would have supported, if they would protect the unborn. I still am not happy that I can't support Democratic leaders because they will not protect the lives of unborn children. I used to "resolve" this by voting for a mixture of Democrats and Republicans. Why did truth and righteousness have to be linked to a party? Was God a Republican? I know that when John and I were attending one local church, one person used this bumper sticker: "Friends don't let friends vote Democratic!" I felt uncomfortable and out of place in my largely conservative church families in most congregations I have been in. THat is because though I identified as prolife I also identifed with Democrats in many ways. However, more recently, when John and I joined a local church that was more "progressive" with a leadership that was openly "left" in beliefs, things shifted. I was uncomfortable but because of my I identified as prolife and this congregation was silent about abortion and openly supportive about "gay marriage" and "gay ordination" to the pulpit. I know that this is not likely to resolve itself and I have become at peace with it.

Politics and Following Jesus

I know many in the Church believe that if we follow Jesus, we should get out of politics. I know of Christ-followers who will not even vote. They state that voting for "the lesser of two evils" is still viting for evil.In many Christian circles, we are advised to vote for the "lesser of two evils" and for the candidate who will do "the least damage to the country." In looking at Jesus' life and teaching, we see that we are told to "Render to Ceasar what is Ceasar's" and "Render to God what is God's." What are we to make of this? In the Epistles, we are told to pray for the government and honor them. Back then, they did not have free elections and we have to draw principles out of the Bible and apply them to voting for candidates especially when we are undecided about whom to vote for. When I find myself voting for candidates I dislike because they protect the unborn (at least), I tell myself that I'm electing a person to public office, not marrying them. As Christ-followers, we are to pray for those we don't support, especially who don't protect the unborn, praying that God will open their eyes and bring them to repentance. No matter who is in power, Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We have to bear this in mind of someone gets in that we don't like or agree with. There are no hard and fast rules about how to relate to the political process, only to pray for those in power, honor them, obey the law but put God first when there is a conflict (and graciously accept the consequences). Politics are not our savior; Jesus is. Politics are not our enemey; the devil is. My Bible tells me the our fight is in the spiritual realm not in the political realm.

God is not a Republican or Democrat; God is God of all!

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