The Electoral Problem

It’s election season again, and I’ve been very quiet on the issue. But as we come within hours of the polls opening and Christians and non-Christians alike flooding to their voting location to declare their trust in one candidate or the other, I want to offer this thought. The election changes nothing about your or my relationship with Christ. Nothing. Neither candidate can take my salvation from me, nor can either strengthen that relationship. My relationship with Christ is a personal one, and so is yours; and no person or event can change that.

We make a big deal about freedoms, about liberty, about public prayer – treating ourselves as if we’re under the same kind of persecution as those Christians being used as human torches or lion fodder under the rules of Domitian and Nero. We act as if someone looking at us funny for saying a prayer in a restaurant is akin to those First Century Christians being dragged from their homes and beaten to death. And we act as if having a President who doesn’t invoke God every third word is like having a modern Ahab. It’s just not the case.

Here’s why I’ve been really silent – on my blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google+ – regarding the outcome of this election. It’s because I don’t really care. If President Obama gets a second term, I’m still a Christian. If we’re seeing a President Romney inaugurated in January, I’m still a Christian. If Jill Stein comes out of nowhere and takes the election, I’m still a Christian. I’m still compelled to love my fellow man; I’m still compelled to look after those less fortunate than I; I’m still compelled to live peaceably with all; I’m still compelled to follow God’s word. Nothing changes.

We can wring our hands about the decline of our moral fabric. We can continue meaningless rants about being a “Christian Nation”. We can pretend the Republicans will do something meaningful about our moral issues. We can moan about taxes. But why? What does any of that have to do with salvation? Will one inch of that draw me or anyone else closer to Christ? We can pretend it does. We can tell ourselves that we take Jesus into the voting booth; but, if we’re honest with ourselves, we should realize that Jesus would probably vote for none of the available candidates. He certainly said little about the impact Caesar had on the salvation of His followers during His ministry. If none of the Caesars could drive people closer to or farther from Christ, why would we think a President Obama or Romney could do any better?

We’ve created a false sense of salvation and condemnation around our elections. There is only one Christian nation in the Bible and it’s described in I Peter 2:9-12:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Peter describes a spiritual nation – one made up of Christ’s saved – not any geopolitical or cultural entity. It is not of this world, and its members should abstain from becoming overly wrapped up worldly passions; and I’d venture our election process qualifies as a worldly passion – one that chips away at our conduct, our attitudes, and the hope we place in Christ. When we spend our time and energy trying to evangelize a gospel of national security, of taxation policy, of border and immigration reform, of enforced theology, we are placing our faith in man; we are placing our trust in an earthly kingdom; and we are reducing ourselves to the role of Pharisees – more concerned with protecting our political power base and sense of security than helping others get to Heaven.

Sure, I’m voting tomorrow. I even kind of care how our race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction turns out. I find the statistics, strategies, and even the gaffes around elections mildly interesting, but this is not where my hope lies. Four years ago, I may have felt differently. I may have tried to urge you to vote. I may have tried to convert you to my ideologies and political values. I may have trumpeted one candidate over another. But I like to think I’ve spiritually grown up a little bit since then. It’s an election, not the end of the world. Even if it is, should that matter? Is there anything that can come out of this election that will come between us and Christ?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 8:35-39

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