Thinking Christianly about Voting
Looking forward to November, we have of course the Presidential election. This is obviously something about which we need to be in much prayer. While my book Preaching and Politics: Engagement without Compromise (Wipf and Stock, 2009) lays out my convictions as to how far and in what manner a preacher ought to go in speaking of politics, there are nevertheless a number of pieces of advice about the current political landscape and atmosphere I feel able to pass along:
- Be balanced. Whoever wins, Jesus will still be on the throne. Our first loyalty as Christians is to his Kingdom, although loyalty to Christ does make us good citizens. This balance is crucial to all that follows.
- Be Active. Trust in the sovereign rule of Christ should not make us inert. God has richly blessed America. As Christians we have the fruit of those blessings to defend, and the nation’s sins to lament and to counter. Laws cannot change the heart, but they can put a bridle over its waywardness, and encourage good citizenship.
- Be informed. American geographical isolation, her current preeminent standing in the world, the lack of independent outlets of news and analysis, and the competition for TV ratings, conspire against our ability to hear other points of view. The demonizing of others in the country and outside of it is a real hindrance to mature public discourse on important issues that really matter in this earthly sphere. Rather than challenging this mutual demonizing, I fear the church has been influenced by it. Dig deep and do the homework. As Christians, we are people whose concern is for truth and not for caricatures.
- Be theological. Take your theology into the week, and apply it to what you hear. Critical to the election is, it is said, the size of the government desired by the electorate. While all government requires accountability, when critiquing it never forget that civil authority was ordained by God. We can try and soften this teaching, and yet we will struggle to do so when we recall Paul taught this in connection with the imperial authorities of Rome (Rom. 13:1–7). We certainly advocate the freedom of the people from tyrannical government, but don’t forget “We the people” have our own sins, too. The administration may allow abortion, but its “We the people” who produce the demand for it. It’s the government that allows the widespread availability of guns, but its “We the people” who use them against each other. There’s only so far we can go, then, in blaming government. The business sector must take its share, the church too, as well as the man in the street. We’re in this together.
- Be thankful. While there are many democracies around the world that run elections fairly, we can be thankful to God we live in a country in which we, the people, have a choice of our rulers. Some may not like the choice, but any choice is better than none.
- Be Christian. Pursuing truth and fairness, doing the homework and refusing to repeat caricatures mindlessly, is what ought to make Christian political discourse stand out. Grace is also requisite. We may be righteously angry against injustice, corruption, and poor decisions with painful consequences, all the same grace should mark us out wherever and whenever it is possible and appropriate. Above all, we can pray. We pray for the entire outcome of the election, but we pray especially for our brother Rob VerHeulen, Norma, and their family. We are thankful for their presence in our church family, and take up our responsibility to come around them with love and prayers. As privileged as service is in the public square, it is not without its spiritual and social challenges. Let’s pray, then, that the Lord continues to give brother Rob wisdom, grace, courage, and protection.
 The following tips appeared in the October 2012 Voice magazine of Seventh Reformed Church in anticipation of the November Presidential election in which the incumbent President Obama defeated Mitt Romney. The piece mentions Rob Verheulen, a member of Seventh Reformed Church, who had served as Mayor of Walker, Grand Rapids, and was running as House Representative for the 74th District at the Michigan State Legislature in Lansing, Michigan.
Tim J.R. Trumper, Senior Minister, Seventh Reformed Church (www.7thref.org). Published at www.fromhisfullness.com,