Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A change of focus

I have been so overwhelmed with thought and emotion about the subject of politics, that I have not been able to post anything until now. I did my best to research candidates. I watched the debates. And I thought and prayed hard about how to vote as a Christian. I want to say first and foremost that I am no expert on politics, just a Christian woman trying to vote responsibly.

Yes, I voted for Barack Obama. (eyes widen and silence falls over the crowd) No, that was not a typo. I'm sure many of you are wondering how I could do this in good conscience. So I'll tell you the story of how I made my decision.

First, I did my homework about both candidates. From what I could tell, neither man was devoted to Christ. So that put them on equal ground as men, in my estimation. From there, I took the classic evangelical approach of weighing out the morality of their policies. After much thought, I came to the conclusion that both of these men had skewed morality in their personal lives and on the issues. The only moral issue that really stood out to me was abortion. I am passionately against abortion, and of course, Obama is as liberal as one can be on this issue. I knew he would strive to make sure that abortions stay legal, and elect supreme court justices who would do the same. The thought of all the little babies that are being slaughtered daily breaks my heart. So I became discouraged and frustrated in terms of how to cast my vote.

And then several things occurred to me in regards to Christianity and abortion:

The article above was the first thing that swayed the way I was approaching the issues. I had previously thought there was only one way to approach this problem--to outlaw abortion! But upon reading this article, I started to think that we might be fighting a losing battle. The basic idea the article conveys is that even if we reversed Roe V. Wade, it is very unlikely that abortions would become illegal. As I thought about this, I began to question whether this approach to fighting abortion is going to be effective. Then as I considered the very secular America we now live in, I found it hard to imagine the religious right being able to win this battle. Thus, in my mind, abortion was no longer my litmus test for a president.

If I wasn't going to be able to vote based on moral issues, I had to come up with another way to choose a candidate. So I prayed. And I as I prayed, I happened to read through Romans 13:

1 "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor."

One would expect Paul to encourage Christians to fight against the disgustingly corrupt practices of Rome. (No, it wasn't a democracy, but people could still influence government.) But he doesn't. In fact, he encourages them to focus on being good citizens. To pay taxes--taxes that would fund things like temple prostitution. He encourages them to be at peace with all men. To submit to their leaders:"...for there is no authority except from God." Paul seems to imply that Christians ought to put their focus on spreading the gospel as citizens, influencing their world by quietly and peaceably living out their faith. It seems to me that we obscure the message of the gospel by preaching Christian morality apart from Christ. Our secular society begins to see Christianity as nothing but laws, and Christians as those who enforce their beliefs upon everyone. I am certainly not saying that Christians should never pursue political careers. But what I am suggesting is that in our enthusiasm for keeping our country safe and moral, we don't lose sight of the gospel!

And so I settled upon my role as an American Christian. In regards to voting, I felt free to choose the man whom I think is the more capable and wise leader for our country. And in regards to ending abortion, I believe that our best hope is the spread of the gospel! And there are so many things Christians can do to help people choose life, so I want to devote myself more to those causes. But I'll save that for another post. =) I'll end by encouraging all my fellow Christians to consider this: Keeping America moral will NOT keep it Christian! And in fact, having such a focus on moralism could even hurt the cause of the gospel. This is something most worthy of our consideration.