According to the statistics and the experts who do the math, my vote in the upcoming election is completely predictable. I’m a 75 year old married white male, evangelical Christian who lives in the red state of Oklahoma. I should be voting for Mitt Romney and the whole Republican ticket and platform. Most of those who are my contemporaries in age are voting accordingly.
So why am I not going to do so? After all, I am reasonably financially conservative; I hold to and attempt to live by biblical moral standards.
Well, of all of the above listed terms used to describe me as a voter, I feel that only two are of any real importance in influencing my vote – my age, and more importantly, my faith.
First, let me talk about my age. I was born during the great depression, though I can’t remember it. I grew up during the Second World War, the Cold War and the Korean War. I have seen presidents and political parties come and go. I have lived in the industrial North and the growing South. I am now observing the 18th presidential campaign in my memory and will soon cast my 14th presidential ballot. I long ago learned that promises made are not necessarily promises kept and that the fears held by those who voted for the defeated rarely come true.
I have also learned that a president is, to some extent held captive by various entities: Congress – whether a majority of his own or of the opposing party – and the various special interest groups and lobbies that control much of the cash needed for election and reelection. The president does not stand alone. He is a member of a party and for him to accomplish much he must have the backing of his political party.
I have also learned that a president’s ideals and moral posture are not always in the same proportion as his qualities of leadership and the ability to get things done. Some of our most brilliant leaders have been moral failures while some of our most moral have been at best second rate.
And I have learned that while nearly every candidate presents him (or her) self as some sort of populist, not all are. An appeal to “the people” is just one of those necessities for election.
So I must say that my age, my experience, my simply living through it and my study of political history, especially that of my lifetime, have definitely affected my hopes for any one man. I am, to a certain extent skeptical, perhaps even cynical.
However, the most important factor influencing my vote is my understanding of and submission to a biblical worldview. I believe that God, through the Bible, makes demands on me as a follower of Jesus Christ – demands which I cannot, in good conscience, ignore. There are certain biblical doctrines that especially bear on my vote.
First is the doctrine of original sin and/or its related doctrine of total depravity. As Ecclesiastes 7:20 says: “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins!” Or as Paul says (Romans 3:10): “There is no one righteous – not even one!” This means that our choices will always be between sinners – fallible persons. There is not and never will be a great champion riding in on a white horse – that is, until Jesus returns! (Revelation 19:11ff)
A second doctrine we must remember is the doctrine of the two kingdoms. While we as followers of Christ are ultimately members of the Kingdom of Heaven, we are also members of whatever earthly “kingdom” God has placed us in and have certain obligations placed on us as member of that kingdom. And as citizens of a representative democracy, we have the obligation of voting – of taking part in the selection process, whether or not a president or his party is totally to our liking.
Whether we call this a choosing of the greater good or of the lesser of two evils, it is not as many see it, a clear choice between good and evil as many of my friends on the right perceive it.
Which brings me to my first disagreement with my right-leaning Christians friends – the absolutist painting of all who disagree as evil while ignoring the flaws and inconsistencies of their own party. The fawning over hate-mongering talk radio and TV hosts and conspiracy theorists. The passing around of rumors, lies and half-truths on the internet (which I receive regularly). It is of no avail to defend these actions by claiming that the other side does the same. (“Nya-nya - he hit me first!”)
Those on the right claim abortion as the number one sin of America. While I may not agree that it is number one, I do agree that it is horrible. It is the taking of an innocent human life. But in the nearly 40 years since Roe vs. Wade, little has been done to limit the practice – by either party. I suspect that the pro-life position has been cynically used by many on the right as a rallying cause merely to get votes. Especially when their presidential candidate has vacillated on his position. And I fail to see what can actually be done to prevent people from making the wrong choice. Remember the 18th amendment?
Their other rallying cry is the so-called homosexual agenda. Again I agree that the Bible clearly teaches that homosexual sex is sin; but it also lists adultery, extra-marital sex and easy divorce as well. We in this nation long ago realized that laws against such sexual behavior were unenforceable. Why are we hung up on this one? And while I feel that “gay marriage” is a contradiction in terms, I see no advantage in denying them some legal and financial protection, call it what you may.
While I strongly believe that the government, Federal, state or other cannot eliminate or even regulate these perceived evils, there is another evil or more exactly group of evils that I believe government can and must bring under control – that is the oppression of the poor and underprivileged. In fact, I believe that, to some extent, human government is responsible in a positive way for care of the poor. While the New Testament statements in the Epistles regarding government do not specifically mention care of the poor, there is much to point to as an aspect of what Paul says, “it is God’s minister to you for good … they are God’s ‘liturgists,’ devoting themselves to this very thing” (Romans 13:4, 6).
Jesus’ judgment of the nations in Matthew 24:31-46 points to His heart concern for the way the nations treat those in need. Or we could take James’ blistering attack on the oppressive rich in James 5:1-6. The Old Testament is full of God’s heart for the poor and those in need. Passage after passage in the Mosaic Law, as well as the prophets illustrate God’s compassion for the poor, the alien, the widow and the orphan as well as His blazing anger against those who mistreat them.
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.” (Exodus 22:21-27 – ESV)
Where are those on the right who cry out against these injustices? Instead we hear anger against the so-called “welfare frauds,” against those who receive “entitlements,” against “the 47%” who allegedly receive and don’t pay their fair share, ignoring all the while the fact that it is the large corporations with their over-compensated officers that receive the greatest amounts of government largesse.
Our economy crashed for a number of reasons, but it did not crash because of too much government aid to those in need. One major factor was the financial transactions of banks and Wall Street firms – companies and individuals, who made big money by manipulating it, while contributing nothing. (See: THE BIG SHORT and GREED.)
I am not an economist. But I can see that for me to vote for a party that wants to take us back to the financial policies that brought us down, that is more concerned for the wealthy than for the poor and middle-class would be more than irresponsible – it would be a sin.