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A Crisis of Conviction

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.” 

 

“I know you’re into big diversion …anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it’s exploding…. But let’s at least focus.”

 

 

The preceding quotes have been brought to you from two of our presidential candidates (I’ll let you guess who said what).  These quotes represent just a brief snippet of what has been the most negative, vitriolic, downright mean presidential election in recent memory.  From claims of sexual assault, racism, to tax evasion, the candidates have attacked each other in a personal manner rarely seen is modern political history.  As a pastor, I rarely make political statements publicly, and I never endorse a political candidate, but as a believer, I, probably like many of you, have found myself incredibly discouraged at the options in this election cycle.  I am embarrassed at the current state of things and find myself incredibly concerned about the direction of our country.  I have also found myself continually disappointed and embarrassed at the comments and behavior of self-professing Christians on social media and other mediums as they defend their candidates of choice and attack others with much of the same vitriol the candidates are displaying.  As I have prayed and thought about these things over the past few months, I have repeatedly asked myself the questions, “What is a Christian to do in this situation?  How are we to respond?”

You, like me, have probably read many articles written by esteemed and respected Christian thinkers that tout the importance of voting in this particular election.  Most of these writers cling to the “lesser of two evils” argument and claim that it is our duty and responsibility as not only Americans but as Christians to fulfill our duty and vote.  While I certainly agree that it is important to vote according to one’s beliefs and convictions, I must take issue with some of these arguments.  Let me just pause for a moment here and encourage you to please understand that I am not trying to convince anyone of anything as it relates to voting.  That is not my responsibility.  I am simply giving you my thoughts on a very delicate topic, something that I have been previously hesitant to do.  However, the critical nature of what is at stake compels me to respond. 

First of all, let me say that while I recognize the importance of voting, I find no Scriptural basis that says that voting is mandatory.  I have heard the argument made that our brave military personnel have fought and died for my right to vote.  I respect that.  But I also recognize that those same brave souls fought for my right to withhold my vote when I feel that it is violating my conscience and my principles.  Secondly, while I am a proud American citizen, make no mistake that I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God first.  Because of that, I am held to higher standards, and my value system that governs the choices I make in my life (including voting) is based on that fact and that alone.  Thirdly, let me address the “lesser of two evils” argument.  It is simple, really.  Evil is still evil.  It doesn’t matter how much or how little, and it doesn’t even matter if you think an evil option is “not as bad” than the alternative evil option. It doesn’t change the fact that evil is still evil.  Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, probably said it best when he said,

“When Christians face two clearly immoral options, we cannot rationalize a vote for immorality or injustice just because we deem the alternative to be worse. The Bible tells us we will be held accountable not only for the evil deeds we do but also when we “give approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32).This side of the New Jerusalem, we will never have a perfect candidate. But we cannot vote for evil, even if it’s our only option.”

This is an election where we have heard, read, and seen the most ungodly things come out of the mouths of our presidential candidates.  These things run contrary to the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ.  We must not be willing to sacrifice those beliefs simply to fulfill our roles as patriotic Americans.  No matter what happens on November 8th, I know that God will still be in control on November 9th.  We might not know what the future holds, but we certainly know who holds the future. 

Let me just conclude with this.  Pray.  Pray like never before.  Pray for our nation, the presidential candidates, and most importantly, for God’s will to be done in our country and among His Kingdom people.  Secondly, vote according to how the Lord leads you to vote.  But know that it is also ok not to vote if you feel that doing so violates your beliefs as a follower of Christ.  Remember that as Christians, we are not Americans first. Our citizenship is in another Kingdom and we need to behave accordingly.  Voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil. But know this.  No matter who our president is, I will pray for them and will respect them as the leader of our country (Romans 13:1-7).  And you should too.  May God be glorified in this election and our responses to it.