Monday, November 7, 2016

How to Vote!

More than one person has asked me how I think we ought to vote in tomorrow’s presidential election. I am not answering that question publicly for a number of reasons, one being that I can make a good case for more than one answer. Another is that I have people I love and respect on every side of the issue, and while I may not agree with their thinking and would engage them privately, I don’t want to create any unnecessary open division among us as Christians. And finally, while I have serious concerns as to whether our tax exempt status in our nation will continue, I don't want to jeopardize it in a church-related blog by making a political endorsement!
However, I do think that there are some things that I can say that might be of help to those still trying to figure out what to do. Actually, I have a lot of things I could say, but let me offer these five.
1. Vote Prayerfully—if you have not made your own need for wisdom (as well as everyone else’s need for the same) a matter of prayer, you have already failed in a basic call—to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). Failure to pray for wisdom says to God, “I don’t trust you to give what you promise, so I’ll figure this out on my own.” You can be sure God won’t give you what you won’t ask for. If you are voting based solely on your gut, your political preferences, or your feelings, and not based upon prayerful dependence on God for wisdom, and reasoned consideration of biblical priorities and principles, then you are not voting as a Christian, but as an independent actor/reactor, and that does not help a nation full of people who think they are all personally the arbiters of what is right and good.
2. Vote Consistently—if a candidate and/or their party is defined by positions you believe to be opposed to God, the Bible, and the freedom for Christians (and others) to live and act in their public as well as private lives in accord with their conscience, then wisdom would instruct you not to vote for such a person. Christians may well face persecution, but we are not called upon to seek it. Rather, we are to pray for our leadership, and by extension seek to select those who would enable us to live peaceful and quiet lives (1 Tim 2:2). The four "Christian" issues I prioritize for our society are life (including the pro-life cause), marriage and family, religious liberty, and justice (not "fairness") under law.
3. Vote Realistically—we are under no illusions about the candidates running for President this year for the major parties, the minor parties, or as write ins. We are also aware that an election is held with the stated purpose of yielding a winner who becomes our leader. Your vote is a piece of that process, and so you should vote in whatever way you believe and are convinced will yield the best possible winner out of the options before us. Voting, as Ohio’s governor did, by writing in a name that would not even count as a write in vote in our state, was a symbolic act, but it was not truly a vote. He could have voted for any candidate on the ballot or on the write in list, but he chose to throw away his part of the decision to be made and have no part in the outcome of the election.
4. Vote Humbly—you may choose your preferred candidate because you believe it will provide the best option, or in many cases you may do so because you do not want the other candidate to win. That is a valid way to think, but you need to realize you cannot predict accurately what will happen if any candidate wins. I thought Ronald Reagan would transform our nation and Bill Clinton would destroy it. I was wrong on both counts. You can guess, but you cannot know what will happen. So don’t tell someone else who may have reached a different conclusion that that are sinning by not doing what you think should be done, or that by voting as they did, they guaranteed some awful consequence. There are no such guarantees, and often things happen that only God could bring about. One staunchly conservative person I know is voting for a write in candidate, knowing that it may help a candidate he abhors win. “Then,” he says, “ we can fight against them using all the political means at our disposal—because we didn’t help put them there.” I’m not agreeing, but I see the principle involved, and perhaps that is putting more faith in God than those who are planning to vote for a “lesser evil.” In any case, I will not tell him he is wrong to do so. 
5. Vote Confidently—not in your candidate, but in God. As one of my favorite new sayings goes, “God is in control of who is in control.” Whatever the outcome, God still rules, still judges, and still saves. His kingdom will not be defeated, and His purposes for His people will not be thwarted.