Monday, February 29, 2016

Super Tuesday: Voting From a Christian Perspective

Tomorrow is an important day in the United States. Millions of people across the nation will be voting in our primary elections to choose a nominee for the post of President of the United States. This next presidential election is especially crucial for our nation. Our country has become highly divided along many different lines. The way in which the next president leads and the values he or she possesses will play a big part in determining the future success or failure of this country. With the weight of this heavy responsibility in mind, the questions must be asked: Should Christians have a unique set of standards when choosing a candidate as compared to non-Christians? Does voting matter as a Christian? Why or why not? Let's look at these questions both biblically and historically.

Biblically, I don't think we can find a single case of Jesus or the early disciples ever supporting, or working against, any particular political leader. They themselves never pursued a political office of any sort. Certainly, Jesus could have, in all his heavenly power, become the King of all Israel and conquered the world. But he did not. The disciples could have sucked up to the Roman leaders and sought favor for the Christian movement through political means. But they did not. Paul was a full-fledged Roman citizen; a great orator and writer. He could have sought out and probably achieved a governorship and received protection for Christian followers. But he did not. Probably one of the only political statements Jesus Christ ever made is found in Mark 12:17, as well as in the other gospels, when Jesus refers to taxes; "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." About politics and government, I think the disciple's views were best summed up by Paul in Romans 13: 1-7: "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.  Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."
That is a hard word, especially when you do not agree with the actions or policies of the government leaders over you. Please notice that neither Christ or the disciples ever commanded us to seek political office or seek to have Christian brothers and sisters assume positions of political power. The Christian message has always been about the "good news" of the Gospel and about spiritual matters concerning the coming Kingdom of God. The world with all its nations and governments and laws has biblically been presented as a place which is quickly passing away and a place in which humans will have trouble. We are given instructions on how to get along in this world, but we are even more so instructed to focus our attention and efforts on the coming kingdom and the making of disciples for Christ. In summary, Jesus and the disciples seem to be telling us, Do what you have to do to get along in this world without causing trouble, but focus on what is to come.

Yet, as Americans, we are afforded a right to vote for our leaders. As Christians, should we not seek to elect those who share our values? Certainly! But, if we take a historical view, what should we be looking to achieve and to expect? Even though our nation was founded primarily by people who were of the Christian faith or at the very least followed Judeo/Christian principles, our country was established on the notion of religious freedom for all and not the advancement of Christianity. Our government has never been about ensconcing in law the tenets of Christianity. As Christians we have enjoyed when presidents have shared our common faith and sought to govern in our best interests. When it comes down to the meat of the matter, however, the United States government does not exist and was not designed to promote and advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. The most we should expect from our leaders is that they act in an honorable fashion and protect the rights of all people to worship and express their faiths without undue hindrance. We should not count on that though. The Bible tells us that Christians will be on the receiving end of ever-increasing levels of persecution as time goes on. We are warned in advance of the moral and ethical downfall of the world. To seek remedy of that in our political leaders is to be looking in the wrong place. Do not look for a Christian in office to save us. We are always instructed to look to Christ for our salvation from all troubles and hardships.

Nevertheless, we have the opportunity to vote. So how should we vote? I can not tell you that. Vote your conscience. Vote for somebody you would trust to watch your children. It is a very personal decision, yet one that should not be made lightly. Do your research. Know your history. Study your constitution. For what it is worth, I will  briefly share my opinion of the major candidates that are still in the race.

Donald Trump: I do not trust Donald Trump any farther than I can throw him. I think Trump does what is best for Trump in any given situation. Yet, I can not deny he is a highly successful businessman and a skilled negotiator. He makes a lot of promises and says many things I like, but that is the nature of campaigning. I think it is a plus that he seems to be able to work with both conservatives and liberals. The big downside for me is whether he can be trusted to follow through with all his big talk.

Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz: Honestly, I do not think he is a natural born citizen. I am of the belief that the founder's intent of the term meant a person born to two American citizens, especially if born abroad. People will question this interpretation. However, were Cruz born in Saudi Arabia of an American mother and a Saudi prince, we might be looking at this issue differently. I really want to like Cruz. He professes to be a Christian and claims to stand for many of the issues that are important to me. However, looking at his work as Solicitor General of Texas, I have seen a number of times where the man seems to lack sound judgment. Also, he is currently part of the ruling establishment which has gotten us into this mess in the first place. He has not garnered much support among his colleagues. That leaves me to wonder; if he cannot achieve anything major as a senator, why would I expect him as President to be able to achieve anything with these very same people? He is only a junior senator and we can see how well that worked out with Obama. I am also disappointed with his deceptive tactics on the campaign trail.

Marco Antonio Rubio: Like Cruz, I think he is not a natural born citizen and is ineligible to become president. Rubio was born in the U.S. of two foreign nationals who did not become naturalized citizens until after his birth. He is an "Anchor Baby." If you believe Rubio is eligible you must also believe that two Iraqi followers of Isis can obtain U.S. Visas and have a child here, and that child is then eligible to become the U.S. President. Regardless, I do not like his demeanor. He also has many shady dealings in his past that bear investigation. I also think he is the GOP establishment pick for the nomination, after Jeb Bush crashed and burned. No thank you.

Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson, Sr.: I honestly like Dr. Carson very much. I think he is highly intelligent, very honest, and a good Christian man. I do not necessarily agree with all of his social or economic positions, but I feel he is trustworthy. However, his support in the polls has been lackluster thus far and I fear he does not have the national support to become the nominee. Also, he appears to be overly ponderous about things and I question his ability to make snap decisions in a crisis. Certainly he could do so as a neurosurgeon in a field he excels in. I fear though that his inexperience as a statesman and with foreign affairs could leave us hanging in a crucial moment.

John Richard Kasich:  Kasich comes across as a very pragmatic individual. He has good experience in government and policy-making. However, he seems to want to keep things in the status quo as much as possible. He wants change but seems afraid to rock anybody's boat. Primarily, I feel he is in this race solely to achieve the VP nomination or perhaps a cabinet spot. He is not showing the drive of somebody who really wants to become President and pursue reform.

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton: What can I say? The history of Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill is one of massive deception, lies, shady deals, and dead bodies. The list of their scandals together would be longer than this blog. Primarily, I blame her as Secretary of State for the deaths of those in Benghazi, whose security she was responsible for, for the mysterious loss of over $6 billion during her time in office, and for deceiving the American people by making backroom deals with foreign entities via an illegal private server. She is hot mess of deception and death from start to finish.

Bernard "Bernie" Sanders: Despite the failure and dangers of socialism throughout world history, Bernie Sanders wants to give it another go. The fact that so many young people are attracted to him is a scathing indictment of the failure of our educational system. Sanders seems to have achieved very little of substance during his lifetime and even less after worming his way into politics. He seems to have no realistic grasp of economics or the way the world works. I hear he is a genuinely nice person. I would probably enjoy going on a nature hike with him or visiting an art museum, but I feel what he wants to do with this country is greatly foolish and destructive.

So now we all have a decision to make. As Americans, we should choose the person we feel best represents our values and ideas and that will uphold our constitution and our laws. As Christians, we should pray that God's will be done in this election. We can take some solace in knowing that no matter whom we elect, God will use that person and this situation for His own ends. In the Bible we see God using the most ungodly and unlikely people to achieve His goals. King Cyrus was certainly not a Jew but God used him to ensure that Jerusalem was rebuilt. God's kingdom will come to pass, regardless of our decisions here on Earth. If once again we feel that we are left to pick the best turd out of the bucket, so be it.

Pray hard and vote with hope!!!

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