The Dilemma of Voting
by C. Donahue
What do you do if you are a person for whom faith is important, and the political parties espouse things that go against what you perceive to be the will of God? This dilemma has brought a lot of anguish to voters in both parties --- trying to sort out which party best coincides with belief in God. We want to participate as citizens in our democracy but still stay true to our faith.
For me a tremendous load lifted when I realized neither party had the moral high ground. The moral issues are not settled “en masse” through laws. Every individual has a God given conscience and as we respond to God speaking through that conscience, we make the right moral decision. The parties within any government are man’s attempts to govern themselves apart from God. But God says, “whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6, The Bible) In other words, we don’t accomplish God’s will through man-made laws enforcing what we think is God’s will.
LIFE IN TWO KINGDOMS
As people of faith, we live in “two kingdoms”. We are part of God’s Kingdom but we also live in a country that has some form of government. There are many contrasts and it helps to know about them:
Man’s government always seeks to exercise a “power-over” people by creating hard and fast laws. Perhaps you could call it “the power of the sword”. But Jesus did the opposite. He used the “power of the cross” that comes as “power under” us to lift us up.
Man’s government seeks to make laws that cover everyone regardless of the person or situation. Jesus came to change lives one person at a time.
Man’s government seeks to control behavior from the top down. No sooner is a law made then people are figuring out how to get around it. But Jesus transforms us from the inside out and that is how real change happens.
WHO ARE OUR ENEMIES?
Conservative religious people believe that their enemies are the liberals, the gays, the pro-choice advocates and the evolutionists. But none of these people are ones we are called to fight against. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Our battle is against the “cosmic powers” that attempt to hold all people in bondage. We are called to fight FOR people.
Jesus taught that there would be many who would believe all the right things, do religious deeds in his name and then be renounced by Him! How could this be? It’s because they didn’t love Him by loving the homeless, the hungry, the poor and the immigrant. However right we may be, without love we are only displaying a religious version of the world – not the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus walked with his disciples he had Simon the Zealot on the far left, Matthew the tax collector on the far right and the other 10 in between. Jesus had invited them all and their political views were never a point of contention. Many of us today have allowed the kingdoms of this world to define us. Many of us have accepted their limited and divisive views and have morphed into looking like everyone else. While it’s easier to do “our religious duty” and vote against the “sin of (fill in the blank)”, that is not what we are called to do.
Ultimately we are not called to solve the world’s problems. We are to draw our entire life from Jesus and manifest that life to others. The only question we really need to answer is, “How do we love as Christ loves?”
HOW DOES THIS HELP US IN VOTING?
In registering as an “independent” several years ago I became free to study the character of each candidate --- regardless of their party. Jesus told us that “good fruit will not come from a bad tree.” And while we’ll always be making a choice between two flawed candidates, we can study their overall character and evaluate what they have done to help the most people.
Since neither party deals with the moral issues “by the Spirit”, I pull these out of the voting equation. It leaves me free to let my conscience guide me to vote for the candidate who I perceive has the character of a good leader, loves the people they hope to serve, and who can work together with others to get things done. For the more people have a steady income, a home, healthcare and opportunity, the more all of us in our country will thrive together.