Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Voting is the ultimate civic responsibility and privilege. I am sure every American has heard ad nauseum that “if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain!”. Voting as a civic duty is one of those cultural distinctives that make up middle-class American values right alongside going to church, owning a home and saving up for college for your children. Voting is as American a baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet. Of course here is the problem. Just because something is an American cultural virtue it doesn’t necessarily follow that it is a Christian value. In fact I can’t find a single compelling reason for Christians to vote and be engaged in the political process. On the other hand I see plenty of reasons to avoid it. The unhealthy obsessiveness of many American Christians, especially politically conservative evangelicals, is reason enough. We are far too eager to make common cause with unbelievers or even enemies of the Gospel for the sake of political influence and conversely quite happy to demonize other followers of Christ who embrace a different political philosophy. Similarly we are overly dependent on the political process to do what only the life giving power of the Gospel can achieve.
If Obamacare is overturned and the mandate to provide contraceptive care is undone, will that make a Kingdom difference? Not really and yet many Christians are simply incensed by this. I suspect it has a lot more to do with personal and political animus toward the current President than it does with a principled stand, although certainly the two are not mutually exclusive, in the same way Christians seem all to eager to support any and all military action when a Republican is President but not so much when the Commander-in-Chief is a Democrat. What about New York City public schools kicking church groups out? That will not stop the King from building His church. If the U.S. Supreme Court decides that homosexuals have a right to “marry” will that destroy marriage? Not hardly, it is laughable that a judicial fiat in America would impact a relationship defined and designed by the One who holds the universe together. That doesn’t mean it isn’t bad law or a grotesque usurpation of Constitutional authority because it is. It just is not a Kingdom issue. Unregenerate sinners acting like unregenerate sinners is as old as time.
Believe it or not, I don’t find politics and civil engagement nearly as interesting or compelling as I once did. Do I think that from a secular view America is headed down a disastrous path? I certainly do but I also know for certain that should America as we know it collapse entirely and be replaced by a totalitarian regime it would have absolutely no impact on the mission of the church. The relative tax rate in America, fiat versus hard currency, the national debt, military spending levels, etc. have no bearing on what we as the church are called to do.
So what about my question? Why vote? I don’t know that we should. I will go to the voting booth in November and I will vote for whichever Republican is running against Barack Obama and I will vote for Mike Pence for governor of Indiana and so on down the ballot. I will also do so with the full realization that voting in American elections or not voting is irrelevant. My rulers are not in Washington D.C. or Indianapolis. My King reigns on high and His reign is absolute and irrevocable. He is not the King of conservatives or liberals and His reign is not thwarted or advanced depending on whether the President of the United States has an (R) or a (D) after his name. As I said I can find no compelling Kingdom to see voting as something laudable for a Christian but I can certainly find more than a few reasons it is not. This is something I need to ponder more.
What are your thoughts?