You may or may not know that I was a Political Science / International Affairs major in college. Though I don’t write much about it here, I have a loving, long-standing relationship with my soap box. And I tell you what, my soap box is getting worn out these days. I'm in the market for another one, if you know of a slightly used one for a good price.
Today's rant is about this bee that's been buzzing in my political bonnet since the beginning of last year. I know I'm a little late jumping on the Political Blogging Bandwagon, but I have intentionally withheld my opinions on these matters until WAY after the election because, quite frankly, this isn't that kind of political rant. I'm not promoting or rebuffing any political party, and I don't want it to be read that way.
No donkeys or elephants here, folks. I take issue with a horse of a different color. My problem is with a certain mindset that seems to permeate our church (particularly in the South, I think) And that mindset is this:
Good Christians vote Republican.
Now wait! WAIT! Don't leave me just yet. Here me out, and then feel free to leave and lambaste me to your friends and family should the desire remain.
It's not that I think good Christians vote Democrat, and it may be that after hearing all that I have to say, absolutely nothing about your core belief system will change.
But there is a serious problem with this mindset:
It hurts people. Often, when individuals make that statement - either through direct or implied methods - they are essentially saying, "If you voted for any other party or - heaven forbid - didn't vote at all, you did not do your Christian duty and, in some cases, sinned." I guess I don't have to say that this mindset might alienate some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. And while we are called to hold our spiritual siblings accountable, it should always be with the end goal of bringing them closer to the Lord and leading them away from sin.
If you can show me where voting non-republican is a sin, I'll eat my hats... all 12 of them.
Of course, there are issues where the Republican Party lines up with God’s Word, but that does not mean that those who don't vote the conservative way must not believe in the Bible. It may just mean that they see things a bit differently.
Let’s take, for example, the issue of abortion.
Obviously, this is an important issue to those Die-Hard-All-Christians-Are-Republican folks (henceforth referred to as DHACARs) because, you know, Republicans are pro-life. So, suppose there is this non-DHACAR (henceforth referred to as ND) who is unashamedly an anti-abortion, pro-life, "a person's a person, no matter how small" kind of individual. Suppose that the DHACAR and the ND agreed 100% on this point.
But suppose this Spirit-filled, God-loving, Bible-reading, Church-going, Tithe-giving, ND Christian saw things differently than the DHACAR. Suppose she says: in the last 28 years, Republicans have held the Presidential power for 20 of them, yet abortion still remains legal. So despite the talk they're talking, the Republican Party isn't doing the walking when it comes to abortion (at least, in this particular ND's opinion). So, for this ND, the issue of abortion is a draw: Neither party will do anything extreme regarding abortion and risk alienating their on-the-fence voters. This may be an over-simplification, but I'm writing a blog here, not a book.
So, if abortion is a draw at present, suppose this ND considers other Biblical directives - like stewardship of the earth and caring for the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the alien. Suppose this particular ND believes just as strongly as the DHACAR that we must follow Biblical directives, but suppose this ND also believes that the Republican Party will not do this as well as another party.
Does that make the ND less Christian than the DHACAR? Don't they both believe in the God-breathed infallibility of Scriptural directives? Of course! Their opinions only differ regarding who will best fulfill those directives within their government.
If this is true, then do you see why I take issue with the DHACAR mindset? It does not edify the church. It does not bring people closer to Christ. It does not promote unity within the body. It alienates. And confuses. And hurts.
Once again, I’m not promoting or rebuffing any particular political party. This isn’t about party politics. This is about love. About us, as Christians, loving on and encouraging our brothers and sisters. About recognizing that there is a difference between political opinions and Biblical directives.
So talk about your thoughts on taxes and welfare all you want. Rant. Rave. Huff. And Puff.
But do it in love. And remember, just because you sit next to someone in church, don't assume they believe exactly as you do about the Israeli/Palestinian crisis. Or illegal aliens. Or food stamps.
‘Cause you know what happens when you assume…
*image courtesy of joespooner.com