Every four years, the election machine south of our border is in full swing, and we on this side can’t help being dragged in. Like watching the proverbial train wreck, we just can’t stop watching. I suppose there is nothing wrong with it. After all, like the Olympics, we cheer for winners and losers who are not always from our country. Furthermore, I must confess that I do find the U.S. election system very entertaining.
But, I make a distinction between entertainment and serious commitment. Please don’t misunderstand me. I vote faithfully in federal, provincial and even civic elections. But I don’t vote with the same measure of certainty that I have when I declare my unwavering loyalty to Jesus Christ. Indeed, I am convinced that fervent patriotism or political affiliation can pose a serious threat to our faith. After all, Caesar is not Lord. And whenever Caesar wants our ultimate loyalty, those who know Christ will fervently resist. And so from that rather basic statement, I conclude with several assumptions about evangelicals and who we vote for.
1. It seems to me that who you vote for is not necessarily a test of faithfulness to Jesus. I say “not necessarily” because I can conceive of times when our vote might be a test of fidelity. If a candidate advocated limitations on free speech to such a degree that it would limit the free preaching of the gospel, or of the moral implications of the gospel, I would imagine that our vote might be a test as to whether we are loyal to the gospel or not. But in most contemporary cases –government expenditures, economics, taxation, trade, immigration, subsidies, healthcare and more – we must allow for faithful Christians to vigorously disagree. Our vote is not a test of fidelity to Jesus.
2. It seems to me that it’s fair to observe that many elections are a choice between two options in which we disagree profoundly with all sides. In such cases we may choose to stay home from the polls or do our best to choose between the better of two evils. But in those times, we do our best to remain gracious toward those who may think that the opposite choice is the better between two evils. In some cases, it all depends on which evils we are concentrating on. Concentrate hard enough on the evils of the one side, and we will soon condemn those who concentrate on the evils of the other side. Perhaps we need to pray more fervently and seek to understand that we live in an evil age.
3. Many times, one issue is far more weighty than others. I believe that abortion is one of those. In Canada, since all three political parties will not act protect the unborn, it seems wise therefore to withdraw any overwhelming support for any party. I say this because I am fully aware that only the Conservative Party has MPs who are pro-life. And yet I think it a basic principle not to ask what they believe in their hearts. In politics, I’m voting for what will be accomplished. If nothing is ever accomplished, I find no compulsion to vote for those who have not the courage to act upon their inner moral convictions. Politics is about what one does.