This is Part TWO of a THREE-part series written for friends and followers of Christ, who live in the United States, as we each seek to survive the mysterious year 2020 and prepare for a generation changing election in November. My friendship and respect for each of you has led me to the share both my thoughts, offer my voice of concern and challenge us to look at how we decide to vote differently.
In my first post, I highlighted that the “Evangelical” church has been officially co-opted and declared a political party/action group by the RNC. Vice President Pence’s final words at the RNC convention affirmed this is actually the case, as he misquoted Heb. 12:2, where instead of running the race for Christ, we are now called to: “… fix our eyes on Old Glory and all she represents.” Cross + Country… Christianity is now a civil religion.
American Evangelicals have worked themselves into a corner.
Evangelical Christians now have a party that has given them many things they wanted in a party platform… yet are led by leader who many respected leaders describe as “unhinged,” seasoned Generals have served under and said he is “unfit” for the office, and is one who talks locker room talk on buses. On the other hand, the DNC has a platform, a leader and a series of views that these same believers are adamant they cannot accept or vote for. Too many the DNC and its platform smacks of loss of faith and hope. But it is interesting… that if honest, on the DNC platform are SOME ways (don’t get mad) that aligns closer to elements of the life Christ has called us to that the Republican. Christ commanded his followers to practice some of what they have listed (ie., loving the poor, stewarding the environment, caring for the dying, lifting up the marginalized, etc.). I know that is hard to read for some… but please keep reading.
“Houston… we have a problem!”
I have many Republican believers tell me that they are not voting for the man (“Trump”) but voting for the RNC platform. I agree with many things of the Republican Platform, lining up with many of my beliefs and values. But I also find that if I am honest, I have disagreements with several views… their economic approach and focus on advantaging the rich to save the poor, how immigration is seen, abuse of the land and environment, an over emphasis on law-and-order without an equal call for justice… to name a few.I have disagreements with many of the positions in the DNC platform. I can’t go nearly as far as they go of issues on global trade and “rigorous” oversight of corporations. I am also fully committed to pro-life and believe government and its programs is not the fix for everything that is wrong.
But on the other hand… I actually agree with statements I find in their platform and their call to see men, women, races and all people (from whatever country) to be accepted and valued… and I do believe that many of our systems are broken, and that for far too long… both in the church and in our nation… all peoples have not been seen and treated the same.It’s a funny thing about parties, platforms and politicians… they change.
History records “Republican” and “Democrat” Presidents changing stances and positions after they were elected, especially as the world continues to shift and change. President Truman (Democrat) once vowed to never drop the “bomb,” and then he did. President Eisenhower (Republican) ran on keeping us safe and out of another war, but in the end opened the door to Vietnam. Trump was “pro-choice” before running and Biden changed his views on busing.
So, now what?It goes back to where we began and a call for Christ-followers to lift their eyes and voices, above the party rhetoric. Ours is an allegiance not to political party, a platform or chosen candidate but first and foremost ours is a “first” allegiance to Christ and His Kingdom. Ours is a choice to hold in tension the realities of living in an imperfect country, in the context of darkening days, and seeking first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33).
To this I add an additional challenge… one that is in the same way as hard to hear, but is even harder to do. It is a call to renounce and move beyond our current posture that Wendell Berry calls… “practical disobedience.” What is “practical disobedience?” Its when believers have quietly given up on change occurring as a result of one person personally living out the Gospel. Many have resigned themselves to believing that the problems today are too big… the culture change required is to “great”… and they see little “apparent” change coming from trying to live out a Christ-like life. So they opt for the cultures path to power and change. It just seems more practical to “vote-it-in” as opposed to “living-it-out.” The result is that many have chosen “practical disobedience” instead of the call to live out an “impractical obedience.” (another Berry line).
“Love your enemies?” “Turn the cheek?” Forgive 70×7? “Clothe the stranger!” Too hard! Too slow! Never gonna change this nation! It just seems more “practical” to cast the responsibility onto elected officials, and try to vote the change in. We (believers) ourselves are the problem.
All good… but there is still this question of who are you voting for Walling? Answer: I am voting for character.
Choosing a leader for a country is about a choice. Its about who you feel you can best allow us to “live at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). It’s about choosing a person who is imperfect, one in which you will not always agree, but one who reflects a moral character that displays genuine concern and empathy for those they serve, as opposed to deciding based on his or her own personal gain or recognition.
Being “moral” has to little to do with agreement. A moral leader is one who sorts through issues of “right and wrong” and in the end, weighs issues of “good” and “bad” or “right” and “wrong” based on what is best for others as opposed to themselves. Moral leadership comes down to character.An “amoral” leader is a man or woman who seeks personal advantage as they decide, and weighs issues that affect others based upon personal gain. Amoral leaders show little empathy for others. Instead they build life and their decisions around themselves, elevating self over others. “Amoral” leadership is sourced in ambition.
This election is actually not that hard of a call. I am voting for character and taking a “moral” approach to leadership, not platform or party. I think this provides a way forward, yet some still say that they cannot vote for a leader/party that holds views so differ than Scripture and themselves. The truth… NO leader lines up with the views of Christ. In fact, most believers do not.. including myself.I was caught last election in this very quagmire.
I did vote four years ago but chose the write-in option, voting for neither Clinton or Trump. While it was the right choice then, I have had four years to think it through.It is not unpatriotic to choose a different path. And its not impractical to first re-align ourselves to our primary allegiance to Christ. In fact, if we chose to make our lives more important than our votes, living a more Christ-like life will disrupt the status quo. I guarantee it. It’s what happened to Christ!
As we choose to live different, our lives and and our voices call out leaders who have disadvantaged our neighbors, ignored the poor, looked past the dying and refused to offer a home for the immigrant. Jesus (the immigrant Savior) lived his life under the “dominant” rule of Roman rule and culture. Jesus’ life and teachings elevated the slave to be an equal, saw men and women as of equal value, made time for the sick and poor, cared for the ignored, and told us to love our enemies, etc. He brought new life to many the religious people ignored as friends. This is called “loving our neighbor” and putting their gain ahead of ours. It’s called being Christian. We are called to use our lives as our ballot box.
Empires, countries, dictators and rulers have come and gone, but ushering in the Kingdom is what brings about real change in lives, neighborhoods, communities and a people. Jesus chose a different path, the one less traveled. We ourselves are called to allow Christ first to change us and then put our confidence back in the “mustard seed.” Even Ghandi said he would become a follower of Christ if he could just see one.We are called to see our lives be our voice… not a party, platform or candidate we endorse. The choice of leader for a country… should focus on choosing a person who is “moral” and a leader who displays “character.” Like I said… this year… it’s not really a tough of a call… and now you know whom I am voting for.
But why is making our decision around “moral leadership” different and an important consideration in a election that has become a “one-issue” election for some, and a passion to replace the current administration? My next blog.