So there’s an election tomorrow; you may have heard something about it. Actually, if you’re like most people, you have probably heard so much about it that you don’t want to read another word. And I understand that—I actually wrote a good blog post about the election a few weeks ago (at least, I thought it was good), but I didn’t even publish it, because who needed to read yet another person’s opinion about what the right thing to do in this election is?
So I want to be clear: this post is not about the election. It is a plea for Christians on what I think we should do moving forward, after the election is over and the dust has settled. Related to that, I am not a political scientist, or a lobbyist, or a pundit, so I am not going to presume to give you my opinion on a host of political topics. I am, however, a minister and a student of the Bible, and so I will frame this post from a biblical and moral perspective.
Elections can sometimes deceive us into thinking that we are making a real difference in the world with the way we vote, or that a Presidential election is of the utmost importance. But I want to push back on that a bit: from a Christian perspective, we are called to do a lot more than just vote, and we should have higher priorities than who the President of the United States is.
To Trump Supporters
People chose to support Donald Trump for a variety of reasons, but to those Christians who did so ultimately because you are vehemently opposed to abortion and couldn’t bring yourself to support Hillary Clinton (who is not only pro-choice but seems to be shockingly comfortable with virtually any abortion under any condition): I get where you’re coming from. Abortion is one of the great evils of American history; it is genocide against our own children. I absolutely abhor it.
But here’s the important thing that I really want you to hear: if you truly are opposed to abortion, please don’t think that simply by voting for Donald Trump (or any political candidate) that you are somehow doing your part to stop it.
If Christians are serious about opposing abortion (and we should be) it’s time to put our money (or time) where our mouth (or vote) is:
- Adoption: The issue of abortion is part of a larger issue of children not being desired, and thus, is intrinsically related to the issue of adoption. My wife and I went through an embryo adoption process, and for me personally, my strong feelings about abortion were what convicted me about this being my calling to do more than just cast a vote. Adoption is a long, strenuous, and expensive process, but the reality is that there are children out there who need homes, and Christians are called to meet that need!
- Support Others’ Adoptions: For a variety of reasons, it is simply not feasible for all Christians to adopt. But it is feasible for all Christians to support the adoptions of others! This can be done by making direct donations to families you know who are adopting (after all, it is expensive), by volunteering respite care or occasional babysitting to families with adoptive children, or by donating to adoption agencies directly to help defray some of the costs for adopting families (of particular interest for many of my readers, here is an adoption agency affiliated with Churches of Christ). P.S. If you are reading this and are in the process of adopting right now, if you will contact me I will be happy to share information on how people can make donations in support of your adoption.
- Support Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Many times, abortions happen because young single women are frightened and feel like they have no other options. Crisis pregnancy centers help to educate and provide other options, generally free of charge. In Northwest Arkansas, Loving Choices is one of these centers, and you can support their great work by volunteering or making financial contributions.
- Support Maternity Homes: Also called homes for unwed mothers, these groups work to provide a safe environment for girls under the age of 18 and help them plan for their futures. Compassion House is a maternity home in Northwest Arkansas, and can also be supported through volunteering or donations.
I think it is appropriate to use your political voice to oppose the heinous practice of abortion, but the reality is that in our current political climate, this by itself accomplishes very little. Christians, we must do more! By no means is this an exhaustive list, but these are some practical ways in which Christians can do more than just vote.
To Hillary Supporters
People chose to support Hillary Clinton for a variety of reasons, but to those Christians who did so ultimately because you were so scandalized by the sorts of things Donald Trump said about immigrants, certain ethnic groups and (especially) women, and couldn’t bring yourself to vote for a person who could say such deplorable things: I get where you’re coming from. We have significant problems with xenophobia, racism, and the objectification of women in our society, and these are things that Christians must fight against.
But here’s the important thing that I really want you to hear: if you truly are opposed to xenophobia, racism, or the objectification of women, please don’t think that simply by voting for Hillary Clinton (or any political candidate) that you are somehow doing your part to stop those things.
If Christians are serious about opposing xenophobia/racism/objectifying women (and we should be) it’s time we actually stood up to fight against these things:
- Xenophobia: The melting pot nature of the United States is an early and somewhat unique characteristic of our country. I believe it to be one of our great strengths, and in some ways even a small foretaste of what heaven will be like, a great multitude “from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7.9). To the degree that you have immigrants in your community, make an effort to be in contact with and get to know them. Patronize their businesses. And be quick to speak against comments or jokes which denigrate immigrants (especially if they are made by other Christians).
- Racism: In many ways, this is a related issue but is in some ways more deep-seated because of the long history of race-based slavery in the United States. I am not naive enough to suggest that I know the perfect solution to this problem, but at the very least, it has to begin with us getting to know people of different races and respecting them enough to listen to their experiences, try to empathize, and admit that perhaps we genuinely don’t know what it is like to be a person of color. And of course, be quick to speak against racist comments or jokes (especially if they are made by other Christians).
- The Objectification of Women: This is undoubtedly a rampant problem, but in many ways is the natural result of the hyper-sexualized society in which we live where pornography (overwhelmingly depicting women, for male consumption) is readily available on the internet, satellite TV, and the sexting apps of middle schoolers. I do not know how to halt the massive momentum of this cultural problem in any way other than calling out and then refusing to support any activity, language, or form of entertainment that treats women as objects. This means no longer pretending that stars like Beyonce are somehow good role models for young girls when they treat women as objects in the lyrics they write and themselves as objects in the way they perform. It means punishing our sons if and when we hear them speak of women in disrespectful ways. It means informing our daughters and their dance team coaches that they will not participate in routines which call for teenage girls to dance in sexually-suggestive ways for audiences of adults at football and basketball games. And it means the constant re-affirmation to all the women in our lives that we love and value them because of the character they possess and the image of God that they bear rather than for their purely external characteristics.
I think it is appropriate to use your political voice to oppose a man who has said so many deplorable things, but Christians, if you really want our culture to be free from evils like xenophobia, racism, and the objectification of women, you have to do more than simply cast a ballot.
To Third Party Supporters
People chose to support Third Party candidates, or not vote at all, for a variety of reasons, but to those Christians who did so because they could not in good conscience bring themselves to vote for either Trump or Hillary due to the significant character deficiencies of both: I get where you’re coming from. In fact, I am you. I was appalled by the character of both candidates, and truly could not distinguish in my own mind who was worse.
Having spilt a lot of digital ink addressing those who supported Trump and Hillary, I want to address this audience as well, but self-critique is always a challenge. I think what I want to say is this: if you are disappointed in the moral condition of a nation that could produce these two people as the primary candidates for President, please don’t think that simply by not voting for either that you are somehow doing your part to improve it.
If Christians are serious about living in a society where character—morality, compassion, integrity, etc.—are valued, we have to begin by looking at ourselves. Are we living as salt and light in the world (Matthew 5.13-16)? Are we living in close enough proximity to the world that we can actually make an impact and at the same time distinct enough from the world that we can actually make a difference? If we are not in the world, we can’t influence it for good; if we’re just like the world, we also can’t influence it for good.
Unless and until Christians take seriously their calling to live as salt and light in the world, there is little hope for better circumstances or an improved moral condition.
To All of Us
This political season has been rough. Thankfully, it is almost over. Moving forward, in addition to what I’ve said above, there are a few important ideas that I think we should remember:
(1) Politics should not disrupt the unity of brothers and sisters in Christ. I am not saying that politics are unimportant, but they are not of the utmost importance. Although there is always room for respectful discussion and disagreement, it does God’s kingdom a great disservice when Christians wage wars with one another over political views, because the world notices the way we treat one another. Moving forward, we must repent of this behavior, and actively seek reconciliation in relationships that were damaged because of our opposing views in this election.
(2) We should be gentle in our judgments of others related to their political views. Since politics are not of the utmost importance, we need to be very careful about the judgments we pronounce on one another for the way we vote. Statements such as “You can’t be a Christian and vote for ______________” are inappropriate. It is God who separates the wheat from the tares, not us (Matthew 13.24-30). Furthermore, a lot of people genuinely felt that there was no good choice in this election, but that they had to choose someone. Moving forward, we must repent of this behavior, and be gentle in our judgments of others. I don’t want to be judged harshly for the decisions I made that I prayed and agonized over and struggled to determine the proper course of action, so I shouldn’t judge others harshly in similar circumstances.
(3) We should remember—always—that our citizenship lies in another sort of Kingdom, in which Jesus always sits on the throne. It is fine for us to express care and concern for the country in which we live (after all, Jesus did!), but sometimes we get overly worked up in political seasons and reveal that we sometimes forget that this world is not our home and that God is sovereign, regardless of what happens in our elections or to our country. Moving forward, we must repent of this behavior, and proclaim Jesus as King and ourselves as His subjects, before all else, no matter what.
Christians: after the election, this is my plea to you.
*This post takes for granted that Christian readers will acknowledge the inherent wickedness of practices like abortion, xenophobia, racism, the objectification of women, and the smug passing of judgement on one another. All of these are, inherently, dehumanizing actions, and for those who bear the image of God and are called to see Jesus in one another, are completely unacceptable.