Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's Our Job On Election Day?

Some pastors of churches distribute voting guides. While I'm not going to do that [though I hope you Buckeyes will still vote YES on Issue 5!!!], what I will remind you in preparation for Election Day next week is that in any election we face imperfect choices. That's why as a person of faith, I believe it's my job to choose the persons I believe most reflect the most things I'm sure God cares about. Here, for what they're worth, are some of my things:
  • Poverty. There are more than 2,000 verses in the Bible that talk about how we treat the poor and oppressed.
  • War. From the biblical prophets to Jesus, there is, at least, a [naive? unrealistic?] hope for beating our swords into instruments of peace.
  • Life. "Choosing life" is a constant biblical theme. And there are many that consistently threaten it in addition to abortion.
  • Environment. Isaiah was right. The earth is growing old like a garment. But that doesn't mean we should continue to trash it.
  • Slavery. Every human being is made in the image of God. But today there are more people [27 million to be specific; mostly women and children] trapped in sexual and economic slavery than ever before in human history.
  • Family. Who will speak to marital fidelity, strong parenting, and family values without blaming 2% of the population [that is gay] for 98% of the problems [that may be heterosexual but obviously just as broken and dysfunctional]?
What do YOU think GOD cares about most? What is on your list?


Arden said...

You are absolutely right in raising these issues, Mike. But you are looking for a solution in the wrong places.

Those issues are fundamental responsibilities of Christians in the private sector. I have a problem with the idea that the government can effectively execute a set of issues which Christians have failed to solve, for the most part. The Biblical verses you reference regarding our response to the poor do NOT contemplate a political solution, but instead, are a spiritual challenge to Christians. Christ was not speaking to Caesar in Matthew 25.

While Mother Theresa, Rick Warren/Saddleback and many others have taken on many of those enormous challenges and responsibilities, most churches and Christians (me included) have minimized them as part of our responsibilities.

How many courses in seminary deal with the church's leadership on these issues? When church leaders are selected, how many are selected based on their ability to generate solutions to those issues?
How many church leadership conferences deal with these issues at all? Where is the church in all this? Where are we in all this?

Those are the questions we should ask before assuming that the public sector can effectively solve what churches and the private sector have failed to solve.

Cathie said...

Thank you for the call to think things through, Michael. As Christians, I believe it is imperative that we vote in accordance with the principles set forth in God's Word. All too often we cast our vote based on our emotions or present situation…and this includes me…rather trusting Him for our care and provision.

That said, I must agree with Arden's comment. It is not governing bodies to whom we should be looking, but to those who claim the name of Christ. He (Jesus) changed the world by revealing the Father to those with whom He had contact. One man. How much more could the body of Christ do today if we would but unite in love? Monumental task? Enormous challenges? Absolutely! But He has promised that we would do even greater things than He, and "with God, all things are possible," right?

Mike Fortune said...

I admit the church has largely failed in these areas. And that seminaries can ask better questions preparing the leaders of churches. But I'm not asking who can best solve these problems. I'm asking how we decide who will help us [the church] best solve these problems.

So what's on your list? How are you deciding? Can people of faith really divorce themselves of their faith on election day? And if they can, should they?

Gulliver said...

Mike, thank you. I resonate with your comments. And I would also add capital punishment as an issue to consider as we think about "life" on election day.

I wholeheartedly agree that ideally the church should shoulder the burden when addressing the needs of the poor. But the fact of the matter is that most people, most often (even Christians), will not share. Now where does that actually leave the poor? Since Christians HAVE failed to solve the poverty issue through private giving, as a Christian voter I believe it's my responsibility to do whatever I can to alleviate their suffering-- even if that means calling in government assistance(that was certainly the Old Testament model. God mandated a year of jubilee because he understood that people wouldn't share on their own. Unfortunately they also never put God's "Jubilee" government policy into practice!) My point is that the poor should not be left poor just because we have failed as a church.

Now here is my second point: I am persuaded that solving the needs of the poor is a job too big for individuals (or even small communities like churches) to accomplish by themselves. And so Christians should be prophetic voices calling all the powers and resources that they can to action!
Arden cited Mother Teresa as an example of Christianity properly at work. But one of the greatest criticisms made about her work is that all the publicity perhaps lulled the government of West Bengal into a state of complacency over the terrible poverty that exists in that region of India. They thought, "Oh, Mother Teresa will take care of things." But what she accomplished and what her sisters continue to accomplish is actually very little materially. They are simply unable to do very much without numbers and policies on their side. Meanwhile the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in what is today one of the most materialistic and capitalistic nations on earth (not unlike the United States...)

The one need the government can never meet, however, is the one Mother Teresa cited as the primary reason for her order's existance: to deeply love the individual.(Malcolm Muggeridge has unpacked this well in his book "Something Beautiful for God.") Governments can supply people with food and medical care- a task perhaps too daunting for individuals. But only believers in God can lift people out of the deepest poverty, which, according to Mother Teresa, is the feeling of being unwanted and unloved.

So those are my two cents. Happy voting!

Monte said...

It is easy to say that politics cannot solve these problems, as some of suggested in their comments. But, Mike, you are right to put these questions on the table as election day comes. God worked to give us the right to participate in a democratic process in this country and we are not faithful disciples if we cop out and don't vote. We must ask which candidate, on balance, will do the most in achieving God's purposes on these items and has best exemplified the grace of Christ in his/her demeanor and campaign activities. It often means selecting the least objectionable candidate, but isn't that what Jesus does when He extends His grace to us?

Arden said...

Given Matthew 25, why are church leaders looking to political leaders to solve problems which Christ placed squarely on the tables of Christians?

If we are "right to put these issues on the table as election day comes," as some have commented below, are we not even more right to put these issues first on the tables of church leaders before putting them on the tables of political leaders?

Why should we not be discussing and evaluating which church leaders are most capable of finding effective solutions to these issues?