Every cycle it happens. The articles start appearing. “Candidate X has Iowa sown up and therefore the ‘Evangelicals.'” “I cannot vote for Candidate Y because they treat ‘Evangelicals’ like cattle.” “‘Evangelicals’ reject Candidate Z as ‘Inauthentic’.” Or in the Christian press we see countless articles that have more or less the same title that this post does. It grows wearying. What is a Christian to do?
First thing we have to do is realize that Christianity, or even the various Christian “brands,” (otherwise known as “denominations”) are not identities. Denominational labels may be a reasonable category for polling, and therefore be statistically considered a demographic, but inside most denominations there is such a diversity of opinion that the demographic is pretty hard to pin down. In an age when we often cling to our demographic description as an identity it is easy for a Christian to want to treat their affiliation as one as well, but that is just not the case. (Articles like this point out the foolishness of trying to graft the concept of “identity” onto genuine Christianity.)
Christianity is not a set of beliefs. God is, by definition, beyond human understanding. Therefore it is reasonable that people will disagree on what to think about Him. Our best efforts at such understanding is vitally important but we must always bear in mind we may never get it right. Christianity is not a set of behavioral rules. It is true that as an individual draws closer to God their behavior will tend to fall within certain boundaries, but that is not because of rules, but rather the changes that God creates in their lives. Christianity is not a series of stances on issue sets. If our beliefs differ so can our conclusions on issues.
So what then are we to do?
First of all we must remember that Christ was not a political revolutionary; He was a religious revolutionary. Christ spent virtually no time arguing with Rome, but He spent an enormous amount of time arguing with the the religious officials of the day. This would argue that the failings of Israel at the time, as I would argue the failings of our nation at this time, belong not with governance but with the church.
The things that animate religious political action – marriage, life, etc. – are the way they are because the nation predominantly wants them that way. If we want the law to change we have to change what the nation wants. That is not gong to happen through the vote. That is going to happen through evangelism and through helping those evangelized towards maturity.
The apostle Paul says that when he went to evangelize Corinth, a city that operated around a prostitution cult, he “decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” The answer to the question of how to vote our faith lies less in the issue and more in knowing Christ.
This is not a cop out. Being good citizens of the US, Christian or otherwise, means voting and voting well. The best way to vote your faith is to do your homework on the candidates and the issues. Understand what is going on and vote in what you think is the best way to resolve the issues. But even that drives us back to getting to know God better:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
The answer to how to vote your faith lies not in the vote you cast, but in who you become when deciding how to cast your vote. Have you developed wisdom and understanding? Work on that and the question of how to vote your faith will answer itself.