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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Friday, February 5, 2016

How Shall We Christians Then Not Vote

Mark Woods (no bio available) has just written an excellent article regarding how Christians should not vote (click here). And the diving board that helped him go head first into this topic is Ted Cruz. 

Woods objects to Cruz's personality and campaign for 3 reasons. First, Cruz favors the Republican view on issues like climate change. Second, Cruz's personality suggests to Woods that Cruz seems to be far more interested in winning than on being right. Last but not least, Woods believes that Cruz has so identified his campaign with the Bible that he feels that Cruz has co-opted the Scriptures. And it is this last perceived characteristic of Cruz that has broken the camel's back for Woods.

But Cruz is not alone in co-opting the Scriptures, other Republican candidates have too according to Woods. It's just that Cruz won Iowa because he outdid his Republican rivals in so doing. 

What tipped Woods off about Cruz co-opting was a statement Cruz made after he had won Iowa. He cited a verse from Psalm 30 to the crowd that said that joy comes in the morning following a night of weeping (click here for the verse). He then equated his win in Iowa with Iowa's way of telling the world that morning is here.

Indeed, Republicans have for years sold Evangelicals on the idea that a vote for them is a vote for God's program. What Woods did not mention is that Republicans have used the abortion issue to do this. For how can a Christian vote for a pro-choice candidate when such a candidate sanctions the murder of unborn children in the womb? The result of such reasoning is that abortion has made many evangelicals 'single-issue voters.' 

Some Christian writers have become sensitive to the single-issue voter label. Joe Carter, writing for the The Gospel Coalition website, just wrote an article trying to correct this perception (click here for the article). In his article Carter stated that single issue Christians should vote on is justice, not abortion. However, he asks how can anyone who is pro-choice be sincerely concerned about the human dignity of people who are in other dire situations. So he implies that though one should not vote for a candidate because that person is pro-life, Christians should not vote for any candidates who support woman's choice to elective abortion because it isn't possible for anyone who is pro-choice to care about justice.  

Woods' solution to the problem he sees is that while Christians should let their individual convictions determine their vote, they should not allow the Christian label to be attached to a particular political party or candidate. That is because once we have done that we have allowed our faith to be constrained by our political views and thus have corrupted the faith rather than vice-versa. Woods notes the irony here because rather than relying on the First Amendment's statement on the freedom of religion and Jefferson's 'separation of Church and State,'  Christians who allow their faith to be dictated by their political beliefs are becoming American counterparts to Muslims who support theocracies in nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

This equating Christianity with America, however, is a practice that is older than the Republican Party. In fact, it is a practice that is older than America's life as a nation. In reality, such a strong association between America and the Scriptures is done in order to ride the coattails of Christianity to obtain some degree of authority for their own political position or embrace self-aggrandizement or both. 

Woods' article is really excellent and should be read because this blogpost cannot do it justice in this brief review. However, we could add one point here. Even though we should never attach the Christian label to political positions or campaigns, it is legitimate for both individual Christians and the Church to tell society and  the State that certain practices are unacceptable. In other words, and I think I've written this before, while we cannot identify any single candidate or political party as being the one Christians should support; both individual Christians and the Church should be more than willing to speak prophetically to society and the State in denouncing its sins and injustices. Yes, elective abortion must be one of those injustices preached against. But other practices or results such as an ever increasing wealth disparity, immoral wars (a phrase that is sometimes almost redundant), and destroying the environment are also wrong and immoral and thus must be opposed. In this way, both individual Christians and the Church itself can speak prophetically to the world without risking the corruption of the faith.  

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