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.


Emily Minich said...

The problem is that the Democratic Party tends to limit freedom.... including being against religion. When I worked as an Election Judge on Tuesday, I had a Dem come in and spout off at the 'religious right-wing fanatics'. That's just a sample of their hatred for Christians. Obama will foster a society of extreme control on all freedoms... especially religious freedom. This will hurt the cause of the gospel much more than Christians pushing morality.

Rebecca said...

I wonder if that democrat would have been as extreme if Christians lived as I suggest in my post? I don't know...

I think your point about Obama is very valid, Emily. And it is one of my greatest concerns about my choice. But we won't have a socialistic government in 4 years. And if the time comes, I will fight to keep the freedom to practice religion! I'm afraid that those who are in the extreme religious right may make that time come sooner! Christianity isn't as threatening when we focus on the gospel and not on controlling the government.

Mike and Christie said...

Excellent post. I didn't vote for Obama, but respect your thinking things through.

As far as Emm's comment about the "right wing fanatic"....

Unfortunately, that is what a lot of Christians ARE to those who look in from the outside.
If we were doing our job, loving the sinner and not doing crazy things like holding up signs of aborted babies with our little children standing next to us, if we weren't spreading rumors that go unchecked, only to find out they are not true, if we were realizing that Jesus is not synonymous with America, then we would possibly see that the guy who said that has a valid feeling. Eternally he may have been damaged by somebody who is supposed to be caring about the true gospel which has NOTHING to do with American politics. Jesus is world wide and his message is the same to the person in China to the person in Africa to the person in the middle east to the person here.

I am going to have to sift through all the rumor to find out who the real Barack Obama is. So far I have read that he hates home education and will stop it. Only to read later that he actually supports what is best for an individual family including home education.

There are extremes in all of society including the guy at the election booth, but he doesn't know any better, and we should.

Emily Minich said...

The funny thing is, the guy in my polling place was mad at Christians because he assumed the person who reported him drinking and driving was one. :)

Mike and Christie said...

LOL! That is soooo funny!

Katie said...

Hi Rebecca! I just found your blog through your facebook page. It's fun to read what friends blog about!

Oakie Grandfather said...

I love your post Rebecca. It sometimes, no most times, is very difficult to dig in to issues deep enough to understand them fully, especially things on the internet where lies, misunderstanding and crazy opinions abound. It sounds like you did it and I am proud of you.

Obama is now our president. The best anyone can do for him, a person with a great weight on his shoulders, one who has expectations of him raised sky high, is to keep him in our prayers. God knows he needs them.

bandgeek said...

I love how you cut your hair. Mine is very very similar! I will try to send a picture.