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SOUDER: The consequences of elections

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By Chuck Souder

On Tuesday, Americans will once again go to the polls to choose those who will lead us. This is both a great privilege and a great responsibility – and something that all citizens should take seriously.

Some pundits are calling this “the most important election of our time” – which as I recall was the same thing they said in 2008, 2006, 2004 and almost every other election in my lifetime.

However, even though some may shrug off such proclamations as sensationalism, I actually believe it is correct every time. The “most important election of our time” is always the one that is next.

Why? Because elections have consequences. Whether the elections are local, statewide or national, the outcome of each has profound impact upon us as individuals, on our culture and on the direction of our country as a whole.

Because of this, all Americans – but especially those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ – should commit to being informed voters. The decisions that are made on Tuesday will impact our country – either for good or for bad.

This is why I am appalled by a study the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life took before the 2008 election that showed that nearly two-thirds of Americans say their faith has little to do with their voting decisions.

This means that millions of Christians, who are called to make a positive difference in the world (to be “salt and light,” as the Bible says), will cast their ballots without giving thought to what God might have to say about the matter.

Even worse, other surveys show that considerably less than half of eligible Christians will even vote.

This is a tragedy that is hard to overstate. 

There are several reasons for this disconnect. One is that many people who call themselves Christian have compartmentalized their faith to such a degree that they only think about God or what the Bible says on Sunday, living the rest of the week pretty much as they please.

This privatization of faith, while totally contrary to Biblical Christianity, is encouraged by an increasingly secular society and the media’s continual drumbeat of the “separation of church and state,” which, though not in the Constitution, has caused much misunderstanding about what is actually legal and proper in the public square.

Another reason that Christians keep their faith in their pocket on Election Day is the constant scream of deviants, “Don’t legislate your morality on me!,” which has silenced many otherwise well-meaning people of faith.

My question to them is simple: Whose morality do you want to legislate? Why should I keep silent and allow you to legislate your morality (or immorality) on me? As D. James Kennedy wrote in his excellent book How Would Jesus Vote?, “The very nature of legislation involves moral judgments. Some things are deemed right and legal; other things are wrong and illegal. That is morality. I believe the question is not if morality can be legislated. The question is whose morality will be legislated?”

It is important to note that just because something is legal doesn’t make it moral. Just because a majority of Congress, five Supreme Court justices or 51 percent of the people agree on something doesn’t make it moral. God’s word is the ultimate standard, and for those who call themselves followers of Christ, God’s opinion should be the only one that matters.

But that leads to perhaps the biggest reason why so many people vote without considering what God thinks: Many church-goers don’t realize that there is actually a Christian way to look at the issues.

The Bible has something to say, not only about the obvious (for Christians) issues such as abortion or homosexual behavior but also about education, the environment, business, our response to the poor, personal finances, immigration and economic matters.

Again, for an in-depth, non-political perspective what the Bible says on these issues, Kennedy’s book is an invaluable resource.

Many Christians sometimes lament that when it comes to many political races, there is no clear-cut choice about which candidate’s positions most closely correspond to what the Bible says, and that the choice is between “the lesser of two evils.”

If this is truly the case, the Christian should always vote for the “lesser evil,” thereby slowing the speed the government will go in the wrong direction. 

However, it has been my experience that, in most cases, a choice is more obvious. As I noted earlier, I believe that the Bible speaks to every issue pertinent in any given election, but I also think there are some issues that trump all others.

Though reasonable people may differ on their approach to foreign policy or how to improve the economy, there are some issues about which God has spoken plainly.

On these issues, a Christian’s position must be clear: God has spoken, and we are under His lordship. 

It is my conviction that if a candidate does not have the wisdom to agree with God where He has clearly spoken – it cannot be reasonably assumed that the candidate can be trusted to think about any other issue correctly either.

If someone can’t agree that the sky is blue, why should I care what color he thinks the grass is?

One such crystallizing issue is abortion.

As Mother Teresa said, “We cannot fight credibly against other social and moral evils, including poverty and violence, while we tolerate mass killings by abortion.”

I cannot understand how anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ can support any candidate that is pro-abortion, and I believe that any who do so will have to give an account to God as the innocent blood of children cries out to Him.

And though it is not always the case, I have found that those candidates who agree with God where He has clearly spoken are usually closer to a Biblical position on the other issues as well.

For Christians, I believe that voting is a sacred trust. So if you are a follower of Christ, by all means go to the polls on Tuesday. Just be sure to take God with you.

 

Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. You can reach him at csouder@shelbychristian.org.