Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why I’ll Vote The Way I Will

If you aren’t aware of the fact that it is presidential election season, then you (and your telephone) have been living under a rock. Without electricity.

In these debate-charged times, people are frequently and more easily frustrated at the bombardment from politicians in search of votes. Candidates for government tell us what they believe we want to hear, rather than just what they believe. Perhaps I’m overly cynical, but I believe most of their talk is an effort to gain votes, secure power, or write their place into history. If we ever expect these men and women to tell us what they actually believe or what they can legitimately accomplish, we are surely going to be disappointed.

As I’ve grown older, I find it harder to vote in good conscience for many of the candidates up for election. I have developed a general distrust of what is being said and promised. When a presidential candidate vows change and an improved economy, I happen to know that the Chief Executive does not actually have that much to do with that subject. True, the economy is shaped by presidential advisors, and highly-placed government leaders, but it is also affected by other nations, the lending habits of banks, the spending habits of individuals, and ultimately by God Himself. These things are not under any one man’s control – thankfully.

But a new idea has crept into how I plan to cast my vote. That idea is the concept of the moral imperative. Put another way, there are topics which are essential to Christian idealism and cannot be ignored. For me, voting for a candidate who professes against any of these imperatives is a dangerous enterprise.

Conversely, there are topics which do not contain an ethical and moral imperative. Subjects such as climate change, big vs. small government, and health care entitlements are important, but they do not rise to the level of being commanded by God. God’s ideals, as presented in the Bible, may touch on these issues to a degree, but fall short of the moral edict, such as we see in the Ten Commandments.

What do I consider to be moral imperatives today? The list, thankfully, is pretty short. Abortion is the first on my list – a candidate must be firmly opposed to any and all abortion techniques and must profess that life begins at conception, as designed by God. A candidate’s position on the legitimacy of same-sex marriage is also paramount. The Bible is clear on this topic, and there is no room to erode the institution of marriage as God has established it (Romans 1:26-28). In the same vein, it is clear that homosexuality is a contributor to the moral decline of many nations before us (Greece and Rome come to mind – they once were great nations, just like ours). I cannot willingly be a party to any erosion of God’s position on these topics.

I believe the Christian is obligated to elect officials who are in line with each of God’s moral imperatives. A candidate who fulfills this test, but with only one exception, is not a candidate for whom I can vote. Simply put, I first establish my list of godly imperatives which must be met. Then, I evaluate each candidate against that list and create a pool of candidates for which I can ethically cast a vote. After I have established that pool, then I may apply the non-imperative “nice-to-haves” against the candidates to make a selection. Sadly, in the general election, I usually don’t get to the last part where I can judge multiple candidates on secondary issues. I’m usually left with only one choice. In the event that I have no choices remaining, I cannot, in good faith, vote for any candidate who would erode God’s commanded criteria.

But we should not worry – God provides leaders and sets in place those to be elected. Romans 13:1 tells us that “there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” We must trust that God holds the entire plan in His hand, and can see far beyond the future that we might envision.

Voting is indeed a privilege. Being a child of God is an even greater one. God gives us some moral imperatives. If they want my vote, my elected officials need to declare in favor of God’s principles. Because He comes first.

1 comment:

Candice said...

I could not agree more. Recently we got a phone call from some political polling agency. They were not advocating any candidate or ballot initiative, it was just a survey about what influences peoples vote. Unfortunately it was multiple choice and my answers were not on their list. I was saddened to hear their surprise when I stated I vote based on my beliefs, not who supports a ballot initiative or where it comes from. But isn't that how it should be?