Evangelicals and Elections

Dear Reader,

I am trying really, really hard not to respond to friends’ Facebook posts this week. Politics is everywhere. Like, I suspect, most Americans, I am very frustrated with everything about this election. I am frustrated with the choices available. I am even more frustrated with the things I see my fellow evangelical Christians saying. Whatever the positions of individual Christians, the perception of society at large seems to be that we have sold our souls for the sake of {pick one: a conservative supreme court justice, the right to discriminate against homosexuals, the abortion thing, free access to guns, anything by Hillary}.

In Christian circles the phrase on hears again and again is “the lesser of two evils.” I actually take some comfort in the use of this phrase. At least it means we still believe in evil, and presumably in good. At least we are trying on some level to make moral judgments. The problem is that those judgments are so hard to make this year. First we have to decide what we are judging: Do we care more about the individual candidate’s character or his/her position on the issues? Because no one really seems to be saying “Donald Trump is a great guy. I admire his morality.” But then we look at Hillary and say, “But how can we vote for someone who is pro-choice and pro-gay rights?” These are important moral issues and (from an evangelical perspective) she is on the wrong side of them. So do we vote based on character or political position? But wait — it’s more complicated than that. Because Hillary’s character is debatable as well. Her (alleged) crimes are in the political more than the personal arena but there is a good case to be made that she is dishonest and self-serving. And Donald’s positions — while they may be on the right side of certain litmus-test issues — are not exactly compassionate. Yes, we care about the unborn, but what about the born? God says (I paraphrase), “You were strangers and aliens. Therefore care for those people.” If we are trying to decide who is the lesser of two evils, there are no easy answers here. There’s plenty of evil to go around.

I’d like to ask this instead — Whoever wins the election, what are we going to come out of this season with? I know not everything one reads online is true, but out non-Christian friends and neighbors are reading what is out there, and their perception right now is that the church has sold out. That for all our pious talk, we are willing to get into bed with some downright nasty people. We may choose our candidate based on some decent principles (not killing unborn babies, for instance) but in the process we swallow a whole lot of other evil things. We’re losing our credibility, our moral authority. It may already be too long gone.

A president is important. The future of our country is important. But both pale in comparison to the witness of the church. Our perspective has not been long enough or broad enough. We have allowed ourselves to be caught up in what is ultimately temporary and worldly. We need to ask not “Who is less evil?” but “How do we glorify God in this time and place? How do we advance His kingdom?” The answer is not to get bogged down in parsing the levels of evil but to stand up and proclaim what true goodness is.



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