“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” -Micah 6:8
This 2016 presidential race has generated so much debating, agonizing, and hating in the lives of so many Americans. We behave as though this issue, this question of who to vote for, is not only potentially world-shattering, but unprecedented in the challenges it presents.
But that mindset is mistaken. That mindset assumes that we can face challenges that surpass those faced by the characters of our history books. This is a dangerous mentality because it subtly leads to the assumption that we must then reason our issues out using only logic and relevant wisdom. That no one who is not currently witnessing or involved in these issues is qualified to address them, and therefore any wisdom from great thinkers of the past (and for some people, the Bible itself) will be rarely applicable and never adequate.
As a Christian, we know this is not the case. Not only is the Bible itself timeless and always sufficient to conquer any moral, social, or political conundrum, but we are not having to make decisions unparalleled by all the quandaries ever found in history. The specifics may be different, but the heart of the question has been asked before.
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.” Ecclesiastes 1:9
Let me take my own advice, then, and share with you some thoughts of greater thinkers than I.
“Of two evils, choose neither.” -Charles Spurgeon
“Now in bodily ills there is none of this difference about the ultimate ideal. The patient may or may not want quinine; but he certainly wants health No one says “I am tired of this headache; I want some toothache,” or “The only thing for this Russian influenza is a few German measles,” or “Through this dark probation of catarrh I see the shining paradise of rheumatism.” But exactly the whole difficulty in our public problems is that some men are aiming at cures which other men would regard as worse maladies; are offering ultimate conditions as states of health which others would uncompromisingly call states of disease. Mr. Belloc once said that he would no more part with the idea of property than with his teeth; yet to Mr. Bernard Shaw property is not a tooth, but a toothache. Lord Milner has sincerely attempted to introduce German efficiency; and many of us would as soon welcome German measles. Dr. Saleeby would honestly like to have Eugenics; but I would rather have rheumatics. ” -G.K. Chesterton, 1910
“He [the devil] always sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.” -C.S. Lewis, 1952
It is tempting to think of this election in the either/or sense. But that is not truly the case. As long as we have the option to vote for someone outside of the two-party system, we have the option to vote for someone we agree with. Someone we can endorse. Someone we can support in good conscience.
But should we? Should we vote third party and “throw away” our opportunity to stop a president who will attempt to take away our guns, free speech, and money and hand our country over to illegal immigrants, foreign interests, and terrorists? Because that really is the only difference between these two candidates. Morally, they are both just as corrupt. Spiritually, they are both just as lost. Politically, they are both just as dangerous. But one claims to want to make America free and strong again, and the other appears to be aiming for the exact opposite.
We are forgetting the end game. Somehow we have gotten confused enough to reason as though the fate of the kingdom of heaven is resting on the outcome of this election or on the success of our nation. Friend, let us rejoice because that is not true!
The reason we remain in this world is not to make a country great or even to fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are here, like wheat among tares, to be salt and light. To witness with our words and actions and bring glory to God.
So do we remove ourselves from politics? Certainly not! If we have chances to support good laws, we should take them. If honorable men run for office, we should vote for them. We are blessed to live in a country where we have the ability to vote, and to effect change in the government – to even be part of the government. It gives us amazing opportunities to put the following verse into action:
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” -Jeremiah 29:7
But in our political involvement we should not place the welfare of our country above the values of the kingdom of heaven. And the standards of Scripture should never bow to secular arguments, no matter how noble or rational they may seem.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” -Ephesians 5:15-16
Remembering that our true citizenship is in Heaven and not the USA helps put everything in perspective. Acknowledging the sufficiency of Scripture to address all dilemmas gives me a way to be heavenly minded and still do earthly good. I will be voting. My personal conviction is that, unless one of the two main candidates has a radical change of heart, I will not be signing my name to their cause. Is voting for Trump wrong? Not necessarily. I have heard arguments besides the flawed “lesser of two evil ones” that are sound – I do not agree with the arguments, but I do agree that God could work in the conscience of someone else in a different fashion than He has worked in mine. For me, though, the answer is pretty clear. I will be voting for someone who is honorable and who stands for things I can support. I will vote for someone whose character measures up to the standards found in the Bible. And who knows? God saved Daniel from the lions and David from the giant. Maybe this will be the year God sends a miracle.
Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
James R. Lowell, 1845