God And The Presidential Primaries

1880 - Illustration shows Senator Roscoe Conkling, leader of the Stalwarts group of the Republican Party, playing a puzzle game. All blocks in the puzzle are the heads of the potential Republican presidential candidates, among them Grant, Sherman, Tilden, and Blaine.

1880 – Illustration shows Senator Roscoe Conkling, leader of the Stalwarts group of the Republican Party, playing a puzzle game. All blocks in the puzzle are the heads of the potential Republican presidential candidates, among them Grant, Sherman, Tilden, and Blaine.

This year is not the first year that choosing a candidate for President is a bit messy. Perhaps the best question a Christian can ask is this: What does God think about elections, especially elections of governmental leaders?

The last time I checked in Scripture, God Himself is the one who puts leaders in place. In the Old Testament, He used a prophet to anoint a new king from time to time, but most often let the hereditary process (or the coup d’état) work. My guess is, He does the same in a democracy—that is, He works in and through the process. The difference, of course, is that we citizens now have responsibility in that process.

But does that mean God has chosen the person He wants in leadership, and now it’s up to us who “have the mind of Christ” to discern who that person is, and vote accordingly? Not possible. For one thing, Christians aren’t a majority and can’t insure that the candidate we favor will in fact be elected. But also, God hasn’t chosen to give us that kind of knowledge. Finally, by looking at circumstances, we really can’t tell what is God’s will and what isn’t.

Late in Old Testament Jewish history, some of the best kings were followed by God’s judgment. Not against that king but against the prior waywardness of the people. How can we know what God intends in our nation at this time in history?

He may desire to lead us into revival, or He may release us to the lusts of our sinful hearts. And even after we know who wins the election, we still won’t know His intentions. Perhaps one man as President will make decisions that drive Christians to our knees and revival will come because government is obviously not going to give us the moral society we know pleases God. That would be the ultimate good, though initially we might think we’re headed for judgment. The point is, we just don’t know.

It reminds me of my coaching days, when my team of kids from a Christian school played another team from a different Christian school. How do you pray for God to help you win instead of the other guys? How do you know your team needs to win more than the others? Or that winning will be more spiritually beneficial than losing?

So does it matter whether we vote or if we pray for a desired outcome in the presidential primary and eventual election? It does matter. As I mentioned earlier, God seems to work through the process in place. In addition, Scripture indicates over and over that God moved because of the prayers of His people. Who’s to say He won’t bring a certain result in the election if, and only if, we ask Him?

Following the council of a wise friend, I’m praying that God pour out His mercy and give us the President we need, not the one we deserve. Because honestly, our hedonistic, greedy, selfish culture deserves a power-hungry, autocratic entertainer or a shady, untrustworthy liberal.

If He does not bring the result we ask for, should we say He has let us down? Should we shake our fists in His face and say He’s made a mistake? How silly that would be. He is God. He knows if what we ask of Him is truly for our good or not. As a loving parent, He knows if we need hardship to drive us back to Him or revival that will cause us to repent or a climate of peace and tranquility that will allow us to do the work of evangelism or something altogether unimagined that will serve His greater glory.

What I do know is that one thing and one thing only will be a disaster in this election—that is, if Christians react with vitriol toward those with whom we disagree. The good Samaritan did not check the politics of the mugging victim before he gave his help. Jesus did not hang Herod in effigy because he had John the Baptist killed. Paul did not write snarky letters to the churches, blasting Felix or Festus or Caesar, when he was imprisoned.

We believers in Jesus Christ need to love God and love our neighbors, even if our neighbors are throwing rocks through our windows and calling us names because of our faith in Christ. We believers in Jesus Christ need to love our fellow Christians in a way that will show the world what it truly means to be a part of the Church, even if our fellow Christians voted for the other guy.

Does love mean to stay quiet about deeply held beliefs or decide to stay above the fray and simply not vote?

Seriously, did you forget for a moment whose blog you were reading? Me, stay quiet? Me, advocate not expressing an opinion? That would certainly be a first, now wouldn’t it!

This article with some revision is a reprint of one by the same name that appeared here in November 2008.

Mid-Term Elections

VotingTomorrow we vote, and to be honest, this is a sad day for me. You see, the numbers of people who actually go to the polls is dismal. On top of that, here in California, most of the “races,” aren’t! So we have a candidate who has been indicted for corruption, another from a notoriously corrupt family, and another who is from a “famous” political family. Those will all probably win, even though they don’t deserve it and/or are up against someone far more qualified.

Add to that the fact that we vote for a number of propositions—something that has felt very democratic in the past. Until the courts overturn the stuff we vote for that the politicians don’t want.

In this upcoming election we are voting for a couple propositions that have obviously been written by top notch political schemers. One has three parts to it: test doctors for drugs, check a national database when there’s a prescription for a regulated substance, and change the dollar figure allowable in malpractice suits.

So all the commercials telling people to vote yes are about doctors who are staggering drunk into the operating room. But of course it’s trial lawyers who are funding those commercials because they can see dollar signs ahead of them if they get to sue for more and more money.

Then there’s the proposition that the health insurance companies are paying big bucks to stop. This one is couched as a “political power grab.” A caring doctor comes on in one commercial saying how awful the proposition is because it would allow a politician to determine not only the amount of money you’d be covered for but the kind of treatment the doctor can give. And after all, such things should be between a doctor and her patient only.

Sounds good, but what the proposition is saying is that the insurance commissioner will review the insurance companies’ proposed changes to coverage and that they’ll have to demonstrate that such changes are necessary. In other words, this proposition is protection from insurance company price gouging. Now that we HAVE to buy health insurance, if someone doesn’t regulate them, the industry can curb coverage or raise rates at will. Sure, it might be better if it wasn’t one insurance commissioner who has this regulatory power, but I want someone overseeing the health insurance companies.

But I suspect the ads have done their work and that proposition will go down in defeat.

There are a couple catch phrases that have worked in the past, and it’s interesting to see them get recycled. One is “power grab” as I mentioned above. Another is “protect the children.” The Republican running against Jerry Brown has used that one, which I think is a real stretch. I don’t see how Governor Brown’s policies have put children at risk. I don’t think it will win his opponent any votes, but we’ll see.

Obviously Governor Brown isn’t worried. I have yet to see an ad for his re-election. Yes, he’s been in a couple supporting two propositions he wants us to pass, and a friend told me he’s endorsed another politician for a different office. But he feels quite secure about his re-election, it’s apparent.

The other “protect the children” ads are for Superintendent of Schools, and that’s understandable. But of course both candidates can pull out that line. It’s what they should be doing.

The part of the election I hate the most is for the judges. I have no idea who these people are, but they have such an impact on society! I don’t have enough information about them to make an educated decision. There are a couple other offices I don’t really know about either—water board, board of equalization, controller, and county assessor. What do those officials do and what would make someone qualified to hold the office? I try to figure it out every election cycle, but then it blurs in my mind again.

The other thing we have to deal with here in California is term limits. I voted for term limits, but there are two problems. First, some people who are good at their job are getting termed out. I’m thinking of one of our county commissioners who used to represent my area until lines were redrawn. She’s more liberal than I’d like (but that’s true of all of the commissioners by virtue of the make up of our county), but she had the interest of the district at heart and went to battle for the things she felt were right.

So she’s out of a job, which brings up the other problem with term limits. Career politicians, who have name recognition even if they can’t be re-elected to their old job, just look for another one to run for. So we aren’t getting rid of these CPs—just recycling them.

OK, let the fun begin. I wonder if anything or anyone I vote for tomorrow will win. 😉

Published in: on November 3, 2014 at 6:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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God and the Presidential Elections, Part 2

As my author friend Julie Carobini noted in her blog today, it’s nearly impossible to get away from tomorrow’s election. I was at a luncheon at church yesterday, and before you knew it, the topic had turned to politics.

Of course, here in California, we have some major issues to consider as well as national, state, and local leaders and judges to vote for.

I sat down this morning to take a look at the 141 page official election guide, and it’s pretty hard not to think, huh? How much easier it would be to let the ads I’ve been hearing over the weeks guide my decisions. I mean, some of them are so convincing. Then again, some seem too frequent (why is someone willing to spend that much money to defeat this proposition, and who are those people clumped together in those groups listed at the bottom of the ad in such tiny print it’s impossible to read?)

The pervading question I have is, how should my Christian faith inform my decisions?

You see, one thing we can know for certain: the best of candidates will not always make decisions that I like or even understand, and most certainly the opposition, at some point, will cast dispersions on that person’s record or character.

So how much time should I spend learning the truth? And, the truth about what? I mean, some candidates seem like quicksilver when it comes to trying to pin them down about their beliefs. And when it comes to voting record, that seems like an unsubstantial measuring stick because bills in Congress are loaded down with riders and pork, all in the name of compromise. What happened to real compromise, in which a bill on spending is modified to the point that it becomes an acceptable amount of spending to the majority or an acceptable target for spending in the eyes of the majority, not glutted with bribes to insure enough votes for passage?

A “litmus test” issue would simplify the decision. I won’t vote for Senator X because he states he is for (or against) subject Y. The problem with that approach is, subject Y may have little to do with performing the tasks of President, or councilman, representative, or whatever other office we may have on our particular ballots tomorrow.

Where does that leave us? I suggest it leaves us where God wants us—on our knees and in His Word.

On our knees, I’ve already mentioned, but in His Word is equally important. In fact, as I see it, in His Word should guide me in all my decisions.

What does God say in His word about money, for example, since much is being made in this election about the economy. Well, there are some specific things, like render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and owe no man and give your cloak also when someone asks for your shirt (RLM version 😉 ). Plus, we’re not to worry about food and clothing, because look at the way God clothes the birds and the flowers; or this truth—God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He cares for us. Also we’re to store up our treasure in heaven, not on the earth where moths and rust can get to it.

What’s it all mean? I suppose each one of us needs to be before God, asking that question. For me, to misquote a political pundit of some sixteen years ago, It’s NOT about the economy, dip-head. 🙂

Here’s what Paul said when he told Timothy to pray for those in government:

I urge that entrities and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godiness and dignity.

Given this admonition, it seems logical that we Christians living in a democracy should then vote for leaders and policies and judges who will promote these same qualities. Not so our lives will be comfy-cozy, however. The passage goes on to say

this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all …

So the point is, God finds it good and acceptable for our society to be one of godliness and dignity, where we can lead a tranquil and quiet life. It is within this context that we can make the truth of Jesus Christ known at home and abroad.

So who do we vote for? What propositions do we say yes to? Turn the question around: What candidates will use their authority to create (and what propositions will add to the creation of) a tranquil and quiet society in all godliness and dignity?

Still not easy, is it. OK, let’s try one more thing. My newspaper had a list of “where do the candidates stand.” My list, keeping to the above principles, would include things like this:

  • illegal immigration
  • right to life
  • war on terrorism
  • energy independence
  • standard for selecting judges
  • plans for working with the opposing party
  • dealing with corruption in government
  • upholding the God-ordained definition of marriage

What about health care, education, social security, Wall Street bailouts, and the like? I’m not so sure a government health care system will lead to godliness and dignity or a tranquil and quiet life. Perhaps an education policy would, though I tend to think parents in local school districts are better equipped to know for their own children, their own communities. Social security? I may be a fatalist on that one. The system was never designed to last in perpetuity, but now it is a “right.” And Wall Street bailouts? Perhaps we should deal with greed and the way we have turned investment into gambling. If there was a candidate addressing those issues, then I could add the subject to the list.

Of course, I have little to go on but the candidates’ words and what others say about them. In the end, I’m trusting God to guide my decision according to His will. May He so work in and through the elections.

Published in: on November 3, 2008 at 4:56 pm  Comments (11)  
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