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So the Voting Begins...October 18, 2016
One of the great privileges that we have as citizens of this great country is the privilege of voting. I still remember the excitement I felt and the responsibility I experienced when I could vote for the very first time. I would like to say that I have voted in every election since I came to voting age, but I would be lying. I have not voted in every election, mostly due to my own sense of perceived busyness that left me with what I felt was too little time to examine candidates and research issues so as to cast an informed vote. Sounds like an excuse. It most likely is. I will vote this year in this election cycle in the awareness that there has been no season in my lifetime quite like this one. So, I want to respond to a question that I have been asked a few times in recent days, “how do you go about making a decision of this magnitude?”
Well, prayer as a believer must be foundational. But prayer must be based upon some known facts as much as we can know them as “known facts.” What are the real on-the-ground realities about the candidates and the issues? So, here is how I approach the throne room of God in seeking wisdom from God in this election season. First, I want to be aware of the context. We are not in Kansas anymore. I am not one who believes that America was ever a “Christian” nation in the biblical sense of that term. I do believe strongly, however, and I think I can substantiate it historically that our entire system for government is based on the Jewish-Christian foundation grounded on the law of God or the Ten Commandments. Our society and its system of government require the acknowledgement of the God who rules and reigns over us in such a way that we are accountable to Him in our relationships to one another. That does not make every citizen a Christian nor does it mean that every citizen will be a Christian, but it does lead to a system of rules and relationships that have a God-honoring moral foundation. Our history is an America that wants to live rightly with a moral code that is revealed in the Bible as the Word of God. We are far from that now. We are neither Rome nor Jerusalem. We are Babylon. People with Christian convictions and moral integrity are eaten by the lions of Babyon. This is our context. We should see it as it is and grieve greatly. But we must not make what is actually Babylon into Mayberry. We have not been in Mayberry in a long, long time.
That means for me that I am not measuring a candidate’s qualifications for leading our country resting ultimately or exclusively in his or her love for Jesus as Lord. I would love for that to be true of our current candidates, but it simply is not true. So, I look now at two other areas. I look at what are the issues of urgent importance to me. They may not be the same for you. And I look at character in terms of both consistency and integrity. First, I look at issues. The number one issue for me is life. Does the person actively support pro-life issues from womb to tomb? Is this person pro-life because of his or her view of life or is he or she pro-life only for political purposes in the current context? It is very important to me that a candidate not only announce a pro-life person but that he or she has a traceable pro-life position from past decisions and actions. A second issue is the larger issue of the family and marriage. How does this candidate view marriage and the family both in terms of political philosophy and lifestyle practice? Can I look at this person and say that he or she by what he or she says and by how and she has lived actually do value biblically defined marriage and the family? Another issue for me is what kind of Supreme Court appointees are most likely to be presented to congress from this person? Does this person show loyalty to the constitution as a ruling document that is to be followed or does this person see the constitution as a fluid document whose interpretation changes with the ever changing culture?
Finally, character matters. It matters immensely to me as a voter. I would love to be able to vote for a committed Christ follower who operates with integrity and consistency. I can’t in this election cycle. But I am wanting to vote for a person whose character shows consistency both in positions held and practices employed. It is not popularity with the people and in the polls that reveals character; character is seen in the ability to stand strong and tall even when the winds of popular culture move as a maelstrom against us. So, I am looking for someone who has operated and does operate with a high degree of integrity and consistency. I may not always agree with the stances taken but what I can see is that the cultural context and the shifting winds of political expediency do not seem to sway this person.
Context matters. We must know the kind of culture in which we now live. We must each identify for ourselves the issues that are of major importance. Not all are. And as believers we must examine character very carefully. And at the end of the day I think that we will at least agree that even with these minimal measures our hope had better not be in the who the president is but in who our God is. He does not presidents to do His work; He doesn’t even need us. But aren’t you just delighted that He chooses to use you in the work that He is doing in the world?