Thursday, December 13, 2007
How Then Shall We Vote?
It’s less than a month until the Iowa caucuses which begins the 2008 presidential election race. I’m sure many of you have followed the candidates, issues, debates and gaffes from the consistent coverage provided on blogs, newscasts, mags and newspapers. I’m not here to offer an endorsement (not that it would matter) but to offer some thoughts on politics in general and this election in particular.
I offer these thoughts because bible believing Christians are an influential and much sought after constituency for both parties. It seems unlikely that the eventual republican nominee will attain that position without significant support from conservative evangelicals who by the way are mainly white. Nor is it probable that the eventual democratic nominee will lead his or her parties ticket without the support of liberal bible believing Christians most of whom are African-Americans.
How then shall we vote? For many the answer to that question is concrete and clear even while it remains quite divisive. The vast majority of my conservative evangelical brothers, sisters, colleagues and friends are committed to voting for the republican nominee. On the flip side the vast majority of my liberal bible believing brothers, sisters, colleagues and friends are just as committed to voting for the democratic nominee. Both groups are convinced that biblical convictions are driving their decisions. How could one group of people that agree on some of the deepest issues involving eternity have such a divide on some of the most significant issues concerning life in this age? I suspect the reasons are many and perhaps I’ll have time to explore them in future posts.
For now I want to give you an idea of where I’m coming from and hopefully offer some helpful counsel regarding pursuing our witness through the murky waters of politics.
My initial thoughts on the role of politics and government are taken from Deut. 16:18-20
Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Those of us who wish to be guided by scripture with regards to our political decisions have to take this important passage into account.
This passage differs from those in the New Testament that address the issue of government in that it is not given in response to a question. Jesus, Paul and Peter responded to questions concerning how God’s people they were to live in the midst of ungodly governments. It seems that many believers today tend to confine what scripture says about government and politics to those texts alone. In my view however the Deuteronomy passage speaks more to God’s basic motivation for instituting government. God instituted government among His people to carry out biblical social justice. This justice was to be applied to great and small, rich and poor, native Hebrew and immigrant. Other passages indicate that God was particularly concerned with social justice for the poor and powerless (see Exod. 23:1-9, Psalm 82, Isa. 10:1-4 and take special note of Deut. 10:17-19).
How then shall we vote? I’m not entirely sure nor do I plan to encourage you to pick one candidate over another. And that isn’t even the most important aspect of this discussion. As I said before, bible believing Christians from various ethnicities, socio-economic groups and political parties will have a large say in who become the next President of the United States. The question is will that person ride the crest of bible waving support focused on pursuing justice and justice alone or simply use God’s people to pursue the narrow and selfish interest that seems so rampant in politics today?
To Him Who Loves Us…